Solasta: Crown of the Magister – Lost Valley

Solasta: Crown of the Magister – Lost Valley is a fairly large expansion for the game Solasta, made by the developers Tactical Adventures. I have not yet written a review for Solasta, which might come off as a little strange since I’m reviewing the expansion, but I did a let’s play of the main game on my Youtube channel. Overall, I did enjoy Solasta, at least in the beginning, up to the middle parts. Later parts of the game felt way too easy, and linear, which in the end actually bored, and kinda angered me. The pacing was so slow with all these filler fights that didn’t matter that it started to feel like a chore to play, instead of feeling like you were on an adventure. So the question is, how does Lost Valley fare comparable?

The main story is fairly simple in this one. Your little adventuring party has been hired as mercenaries for an expedition, and to nobody’s surprise odd things happen, and you get trapped in a magical and mysterious valley. Your main objective is as simple as it can be – find your back way out! While this quest isn’t too advanced, the world presented in the Lost Valley is fairly interesting, with a lot of different factions fighting for their right to rule. This means that there is a whole secret civilization hidden in this valley, all with their own interests, and it’s up to you whom to ally, with, and with whom to make an enemy. Lots of choice and consequences with a lot of different outcomes for the quests. Siding with one side will make another side dislike you, which has the effect of you losing access to their quests and inventory. So, you better make wise choices, or else you might put a real asshole on the throne!

When the forest decide to just outright kill you

I got to say, this expansion felt way more like an adventure than the main plot in Solasta. I enjoyed my time in the Lost Valley, and the non-linear manner with quests and C&C makes for a so much better and more engaging game. I wouldn’t say it’s especially deep, though, there isn’t much lore presented beyond the cartoon style of – “this guy is evil, and this faction is good”. I think I came across one or two surprises in the writing, but it’s no roleplaying masterpiece or anything like that, but still a fun faction-based romp through mysterious abandoned ruins and jungles.

Two friendly big boys, well, friendly as long as you do their bidding

The gameplay is based on Dungeon and Dragons 5th edition, so it’s turn-based just like the original. I will not go into too much detail, but the combat feels good when it is challenging, which it is for the most part. It seems much better designed when it comes to encounters. What I did miss, though, are the unique boss fights that you had in Solasta. The vampire fight was one of my favorites, since it felt very unique. There is a possibility that I just missed out, because I didn’t explore everything before finishing the main quest. My issue with the gameplay is that I find the 5th edition lacking in so much compared to the 3.5 edition. Leveling up is extremely easy, and streamlined to the point that it only takes a few seconds to do, comparable to 3.5 where it can take several minutes to build your heroes, giving you a lot of cool and interesting choices. All that fun stuff for character building is almost gone here. It’s subjective, I guess, some people don’t enjoy those things, but for those of us that do, it just sucks. Bring back 3.5!

Otherwise, the fighting is great. The game does use its 3D environment to a fairly large degree. There are a lot of walls to climb and jump over, or just to push people over, having them fall to their death. And as expected, it’s very satisfying when you managed to do this. Many secrets are also hidden all over the place, using this same system. Unfortunately, I do find it a bit easy to circumvent. You just need a guy with good strength and athleticism to be able to climb most walls and make the most death-defying jumps. Every party will probably have one of these kinds of dudes, which removes the need to keep scrolls of jump, levitate, and stuff like that. I wish it was harder because through my play-through, I only used the spell “fly” once to reach an out-of-reach place that my main dwarf guy couldn’t climb to.

Shrek has gone feral

What does suck, though, is being forced to kill the last enemy that has no chance of winning, especially later on in the game when it starts to feel that some mobs have health bloat. It’s not the game’s fault, beyond it being turn-based, but some battles – Lord give me strength! Sometimes it takes minutes to whittle down the last guy. You just stand there, press end-turn, and do it all over ten times until he is finally dead. I wish that human opponents could surrender, it would speed up some of the more boring and easy encounters.

Music is fine and non-intrusive. I can’t say too much about it, since nothing left a lasting impression, but during gameplay, it was fitting at least, and very bombastic at times when in battle. It’s the typical fantasy music fare, I would say, so no complaints! The voice acting is as weird as it is in the original. I don’t mean weird in a negative sense, it’s just a little off and feels very euro-jank, which I find incredibly charming personally. My only wish would be that they used a few more voices/voice actors because if you make more than two females for your party, two of them will be forced to share voices.

In my opinion, this expansion felt way better and more interesting than the original campaign. The nonlinearity and having some actual C&C are much more enjoyable than the strict path in Solasta. It’s not some mind-shattering RPG revolution we are talking about here, but what we get is good, and the world/setting it takes place in worked great for the more lighthearted adventure. I highly recommend Lost Valley, especially if you already played and liked Solasta. This DLC is not some cheap add-on – looking at you, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous!

Thanks for reading.

/Thomas


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