It’s no secret that I am a big RPG fan, and one of my all-time favorites is Dragon Age Origins. The tactical gameplay, along with the great story and characters, made me fall in love with the genre. That’s why when I heard that Gato Studio’s upcoming RPG The Waylanders was inspired by it, I had to get my hands on the Early Access build. What I found was a game that showed promise, but still has a ways to go.
The Waylanders makes it clear that it’s inspired by Dragon Age Origins early on with the introduction of its systems. Through the game’s focus on narrative and character-building, it’s easy to draw those comparisons.
Furthermore, both titles share a real-time combat system with an optional tactical pause feature. There’s a variety of characters who bring their own personality and abilities to the party, as you strategically micromanage their actions or let the AI take over.
However, The Waylanders does end up setting itself apart in several ways. For one, the story focuses more on Celtic mythology, which is refreshing to explore and learn about. There is also a formation feature unique to the game that offers some additional strategic options during combat.
When it comes to party formations, you are able to group your party members together into a single unit that offers its own set of abilities. These formations can range from something as simple as a back to back archer formation to something more ridiculous, like transforming into a giant wood golem or a glowing mage turret.
It’s apparent early on that there is a lot that The Waylanders is trying to do, and during my time with the game, the potential of this adventure shines. However, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done in order for the game to get to that point.
The handful of cutscenes and voiced audio that was implemented felt fleshed out and well done, but much of it is still left buggy or unfinished. This is something that needs to be ironed out through updates if the developer hopes for players to invest in these characters. As of now, the narrative feels disjointed and confusing.
This can also be found in the game’s combat, which lacks a dependable AI system along with unresponsive controls. In battle, I found executing commands to be slow as my AI teammates behaved erratically. Sure, I can see what the developers are trying to work towards, but I’d really like to see it more fleshed out.
Despite the game’s current unfinished state, The Waylanders has the potential to be a great RPG. The areas of the current build that were functioning worked well and left me optimistic about the game’s future. There is still a lot that needs to be addressed through quality-of-life updates, but the joy of Early Access is helping the developer know what needs to be done.
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