May 21, 2018
Will Endless Realms by Lunar Games be your new favorite game? We think it could be! To learn more, you should listen to the full potluck episode here, and also to our whole adventure. But reading this blog post is also a good start.
Endless Realms bills itself as a game that balances accessibility and depth, and we found that to be a very accurate description. There were a lot of “crunchy” options for people who like their games to be more tactically complex, but the system was also intuitive enough that players can jump right in. Paired with some truly unique world-building, Endless Realms is a singular game, with only a few potential hiccups to disrupt the experience.
From a mechanical standpoint, Endless Realms was dense without being inaccessible. We found the central mechanic-- all rolls are contested instead of being against a fixed value-- to be easy to learn, and it led to a lot of interesting situations. Daunting situations and simple problems both have possibilities of going surprisingly well or catastrophically bad.
Combat in particular is fast-paced and easy to learn, and often feels like a JRPG; the game even has action points and MP. We did have some mixed opinions on a few mechanics, such as the fact that you don’t roll to deal damage, but overall we appreciated ER’s approach to tactical combat. One thing to keep in mind is that the book specifically calls for playing with a hexagonal grid and miniatures, and we don’t know how well combat runs if you don’t have these tools.
Most of the speed bumps we ran into were during character creation. The process took a long time and was not always intuitive. This game has a lot of stats. There are several blocks of statistics, and each block is populated using a point-buy system. The pool of points was different for each stat-block, and when you are new to the game it can be hard to decide which stats to prioritize. We also hope that the full release of the game will provide a reference of how the stats scale, because we weren’t sure just how strong a character with a Strength of 3 was.
Endless Realms truly shines when you get to the world-building. The world of Lumis is very different from the usual Tolkien-inspired settings you typically see in fantasy RPGs. There are clear influences from games like Final Fantasy, but it’s altogether its own beast. We particularly liked that the racial options weren’t limited to human-like mammals; how many other RPGs let you play as a sentient plant? Because the setting is so unique, we found it odd to find a few familiar faces, including dragons, gnolls, and kobolds. Humans were also a bit underdeveloped as a playable race, and we found ourselves wishing ER would either develop them more or get rid of them altogether.
The class options were also pleasingly refreshing. The classes have very distinct styles of play, and develop interesting paths as you level up. We were also pleased that the classes had mechanics that operated outside of combat, which is an oversight too many games make. However, the classes’ uniqueness was also a bit restrictive. How many different ways are there to play a Ninja?
Overall, we loved Endless Realms. If you prefer a game with lots of statistics and in-depth tactical combat, you will not be disappointed. If you enjoy swords-and-sorcery adventure but are tired of elves and orcs, then this is the game for you. Players who don’t want a lot of dice-rolling may be discouraged, but the mechanics were not so dense as to put off those of us who prefer rules-lite games. As of publication, Endless Realms’ Kickstarter campaign is 94% funded with a little over a week to go. We hope you consider backing it, and playing it when it comes out! Learn more about the game at http://www.endlessrealms.ca/.