Zoria: Age of Shattering Preview
The faster-paced combat will be welcomed by many, and it will be interesting to be seen how the large roster of characters works together.
Three-man developer Tiny Trinket Games has an interesting goal with Zoria: Age of Shattering. Well aware that many cRPGs get bogged down in its slow combat, the developer is aiming to bring an almost action like feel to the title with quick-based gameplay, as well providing players with a huge number of potential party members to choose from. Ahead of the game’s release for PC and Linux on Steam early next month, published by Anshar Publishing, RPGamer was given a detailed introduction to the game by Tiny Trinket Games’s co-founder Stefan Nitescu.
Although Zoria: Age of Shattering doesn’t have any intentional, direct influences, Stefan acknowledges that the team has a whole load of influences from their gaming pasts that have made their mark on the game. The studio is shooting for a middle path between fully tactical games such as XCOM and third-person action RPGs such as Diablo. The fantasy world of Zoria is fully original with a few familiar trappings, and the studio has made learning about the universe one of the game’s key elements. Other pillars are class-based accessibility, some survival and base-building mechanics, and fast-paced combat, with the main loop split between management and adventure phases as players discover new areas, puzzles, lore, and more, including plenty of traps and surprises.
Class-based accessibility works hand-in-hand with the large roster of playable characters, one area Zoria seeks to differentiate itself. As opposed to many RPGs, which have a smaller roster and often encourage players to stick with a preferred party, Zoria has over fifty — though many will need to be unlocked during the game — and encourages players to rotate their party to deal with the situation at hand and try different strategies. The game is designed to offer freedom, allowing players to return to dungeons with alternate parties and loadouts as they wish. There are many obstacles that can be overcocme depending on what classes and abilities players have in their party. For example, wizards are able to conjure bridges to allow players to span gaps.
Survival mechanics are primarily focused on resting, camping, and crafting. While potions and healing spells are available, camping is the primary tool for the party to recover after encounters or dangers. Resting and camping consumes supplies but lets the party recover health, mana, and energy while healing other negative effects, based on their party makeup. The one thing is doesn’t help with is fatigue, which comes up in combat. Camping also grants access to alchemy and cooking. Cooking lets players gain supplies, as well as special meals that provide buffs for the next part of the adventure. Crafting and alchemy follows the usual template of requiring players find the appropriate recipe and materials. However, crafting offers a bit of extra complexity by letting players apply different ingredients, such as different metals or fabrics, to a recipe to adjust its stats. Players can also apply items called fragments; these will boost the stats of the item but in turn reduce the chance of the crafting being successful.
Base building and outpost management are connected to the story, with players controlling an outpost commander. This outpost is where all of the player’s followers are based while not with the player, and where the player can upgrade their facilities for a wide variety of bonuses and unlocks, such as party members, recipes, and more. Players will also be able to see physical changes in their outpost as they upgrade it. The outpost is also where players can ensure that their unused party members keep up power-wise by sending them on unattended missions. Players can completely ignore these missions if they wish, but in addition to giving these character the opportunity to gain levels, these missions will also provide useful materials and resources.
Zoria: Age of Shattering will have ten classes, seven available at the start with the others becoming available as the story progresses. Each class has its own build options, letting players build different characters to fit different strategies, and respeccing is free. Character have the regular set of main and secondary stats that are largely governed by their class, but can be modified by their gear, and abilities are often determined by these stats, giving players the opportunity to play around with loadouts and strategies. During adventures, characters will gain fatigue, which reduces character effectiveness. Fatigue cannot be recovered through camping, and requires the party to eventually return to the outpost to recover.
Combat is intended to be a bit more straightforward than traditional turn-based cRPGs. On their turn, each combatant gets two action points that they can use as they wish. Movement of up to seven metres consumes one action point, so a party member can move twice, do a move and an action, or two actions. There are also some powerful skills that consume both action points. Class synergy and mana management are key parts of the combat, with players also able to make use of the environment. Focus is another element to balance and prevents players from simply spamming spells, requiring players to build up their focus through regular attacks before using it for more powerful abilities. Although the studio is happy with the overall look of combat, in keeping with its intention of being faster-paced, players can also choose to speed up combat and animations as they wish.
Zoria: Age of Shattering contains multiple difficulty levels designed to cater to different player types, can players can freely switch between them. However, it is friendly to players when it comes to death. There are no party member deaths, and any knocked out party members will return to 1HP after battle. The only losing condition is if all party members are knocked unconscious in battle, or every party member reaches 1HP outside of combat. Although there is a main story has a set direction, there will be choices in the game, many of which are modeled on those found in real life, and will greatly vary in their impact. In addition offering players plenty of freedom in the main campaign, the developer has added an arena that is designed to offer any returning players a way to get to remind themselves of their party strategies, as well an opportunity for players to get a quick session of gaming in, maybe half an hour or so, that many RPGs lack.
Tiny Trinket Games looks to have done a good job putting its own imprint onto cRPGs with Zoria: Age of Shattering. The faster-paced combat will be welcomed by many, and it will be interesting to be seen how the large roster of characters works together. The game releases on PC and Linux on March 7, 2024, and is available to wishlist on Steam now.