An announcement trailer and gameplay demo have dropped for illustrated text-based RPG Roadwarden, which harkens to the past with text as its core mechanic but innovates by combining text, illustration, and choice in strikingly original ways.
Modern RPGs can become so consumed with hiding the cogs and gears of gameplay and creating a world of vast fidelity, that the game itself can be buried, hidden behind mountains and minutia. Roadwarden promises to be all game, stripped back to text and a simplistic but evocative art style when it comes to PC late next year.
The title is described on the developer’s official site as a “RPG/Visual Novel/text adventure hybrid,” with de-emphasized combat and a focus upon exploration, with gamebook-like branching scenes and isometric pixel-art style.
In a predominantly text-based RPG, the story is clearly the main focus, and a meaty, substantive narrative is crucial. Roadwarden promises to thrust players through a twisting plot of mystery, exploration and branching decisions. The protagonist is tasked with traveling to a mysterious peninsula filled with secrets, to spread the influence of a merchant guild and protect fellow travelers from the perils of this strange land.
As is expected from an RPG, the protagonist will be fully customizable, players filling in their own backstory, abilities, and personality. Classes include warrior, mage and scholar, and each of these decisions will dictate how players engage with the challenges of the world - defeating bandits and the undead, connecting struggling villages and protecting vulnerable merchants - as well as navigating a deep and detailed dialogue system, forming unique relationships with NPCs.
Combining the interactivity of video games with the immersive depth of traditional prose, the text-based RPG remains a rich medium, the possibilities for storytelling detail and depth not limited by the technological requirements of more contemporary games. The current popularity of Dungeons and Dragons is evidence of the continuing enthusiasm for stripped-back experiences, embracing the increased freedom of a less time-intensive medium and filling in the gaps with the audience’s own imagination.
The minimalist trailer gives away little, but promises “mysterious secrets,” encounters with “countless strangers,” and “momentous decisions” which decide “life and death,” and gives a taste of the moody pixel-based art style and evocative fantasy score. A recently released free demo provides a more substantive insight into the workings of the game.
Roadwarden is projected to come to PC in Q4 2020 - players have hopefully less than a year to wait - available on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and purveyed by Steam and other digital platforms.
Has this glimpse of Roadwarden piqued your interest? Will you be checking out the demo, and the game itself in late 2020? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!