When it comes to gaming, three games have dominated the charts over the last month. Throughout the end of August and the beginning of September, gamers have played and consumed countless hours of FromSoftware Inc.’s Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon, Bethesda’s Starfield, and Larian Studios’ Baldur’s Gate 3. Out of the three titles, Bauldur’s Gate 3 has won the hearts and minds of the gaming community; one could argue that it could win the game of the year beating The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. With Baulder’s Gate 3 so popular, Tiny Trinket Games invited guests, if they could pull themselves away from BG3, to try out their upcoming indie game Zoria: Age of Shattering.
Zoria: Age of Shattering was our first appointment at PAX West 2023 but it was a bit of a challenge to find. Due to being the first day, it is expected that things will not go as well as planned. Prior to the convention starting, the Zoria: Age of Shattering banner got lost and the team had to order a new one. Before we dove into the game, we briefly talked to the developers. Looking at the game, you would think that there was a decent amount of developers working on the game; instead, we learned that the whole game was developed by only three people.
Once we found the booth, we were given the option to either get a brief rundown of the game or dive right in. As a fan of discovery in RPGs, we decided to jump right in. At the start of the demo, players have the opportunity to design their character and pick their race. Once the character has been created, you will then have the choice of what class you want to play as. The demo offered multiple class options, however, we chose to play as the Sorcerer.
Exploring the World
Jumping into the game was a bit of a challenge at first. Now, this isn’t because of poor gameplay, but rather, there is a bit of a learning curve when starting a new game. For the first five to ten minutes, it took us a bit to get used to how to move the camera and maneuver throughout the map. In addition to trying to figure out how to move throughout the map, we had to figure out where to go. On the minimap there would be an indication of a quest but not where to go for it; in order to figure out where we needed to go, we had to open the big map and try to figure out the direction we would need to travel. This led to us getting turned around a few times. Thankfully staff was able to point us in the right direction.
Combat within the game takes the standard strategic approach using a turn-based combat system. Positioning and line of sight are important when moving your characters in order to attack enemies effectively without potentially damaging your allies. At first, we had to get used to the line-of-sight tactic since the game would not allow us to fireball our ally. For the first half of the demo, we were playing with a bit of a handicap since we did not know how to upgrade our character in order to learn new abilities; this led to a few occasions where we almost died and one where our character did die.
Thankfully, death does not seem to be permanent at least as far as we could tell. If the party is able to beat the enemy forces, the downed party members will resurrect. Once out of combat, the player can set up camp wherever there is open terrain. While at camp, the player can rest to recover health; while resting at camp, the player can activate certain party traits that can be applied to benefit the group. This rest feature does utilize resources but gives the player a good amount of time to assess the situation.
Overall, Zoria: Age of Shattering is a fun single-player turn-based tactical RPG that could use a little bit of polish. With only a three-man team, Tiny Trinket Games has done a great job of developing a vast and robust world. While maneuvering through the world, nothing felt identical and the game seems like it has a good bit to offer. Combat and the menus do take a bit to get used to, but it is fairly easy to pick up once you get started.
A demo is available for Zoria: Age of Shattering on Steam. Make sure to check out the demo if you have time and if you enjoy it, make sure to wishlist the game.