The Spirit Engine 2
RPGs really shine, for me, when the writing is good. Planescape: Torment is the perennial example, lousy combat, magnificent story, and it's an all-time classic.
Then it's no wonder then that a lot of the charm of The Spirit Engine 2 comes from it's great characters. Instead of the usual D&D-style free-form character creation you can build your 3 person party from 9 characters, each with their own interesting backstory to go with their skills. There are no Gimli-analogs or standard knights in shining armor, instead you get a neurotic angel with molting wings, a knight that dreams of running away from his estate and marrying a waitress back home, and a troubled priest who never removes his unnerving blank white mask. The world is a strange mix of magic and European Renaissance: in a genre as standardized as fantasy it stands out as unique.
Combat is similarly interesting. Each party is placed in a line - usually the person in front takes all the damage for that turn. Each character can learn many skills, which gives them 3 actions they can choose from during combat. When the timer goes off everyone takes their action simultaneously. Then the timer resets for the next turn. You can also swap your guys around in your line. It's simple, but offers a lot of depth.
The music and artwork are top notch, the game looks gorgeous. Selections from the soundtrack are available for free on their site.
Why You Should Check This Out: If you like RPGs, or great characters, or epic stories, or interesting combat, this is a game for you. It's a great fantasy RPG while it manages to avoid all the usual fantasy game ruts. It's fun, the demo offers a lot of gameplay, and it satisfies my RPG itch like no game I've played in a while.
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