Freeware Garden: SanctuaryRPG

Ah, the glory of high fantasy: a wasp is also a nymph.

Describing SanctuaryRPG as a huge, hilarious and most honorable devourer of free time would be an understatement. Also, a rather vague statement too, as this freeware beauty also happens to be a proper, full-fledged text-based RPG with some terrific ASCII illustrations and outrageous bosses, that lets you fantasize about being anything from a burly barbarian or a pious paladin to a roaming ranger or a wicked wizard. Or, well, just an assassin or a druid.

Selecting an occupation you feel comfortable with isn’t, of course, the limit to your fantasy. You’ll also get to be the gender of your choice and hail from any place you feel suits your style. You can be a dwarven, masochistic Jotunnar, a nature-loving yet shadowy Wyspera or even a Flammkin. And then maybe choose to be from anywhere between northern Ariat and southern Sirea.

Add in specializations for varied weapon types, classes that are better at dodging or blocking, passive skills, mastery points and five different stats and you can craft an interesting character who can be pretty lethal in combat. My late, latest one, though not exactly lethal, was definitely an interesting one:

How anyone without a sole could ever hope to properly understand gender is simply beyond me.

Such an intricate digital character sheet would be wasted without the excellent tactical combat SanctuaryRPG offers. You’ll get to reposition, link attacks, tackle unique situations like, say, being ensnared or poisoned, keep an eye on your HP and magic points and unleash charge-interrupting ultimate attacks to kill something usually surreal. A Terminal for example. Or an Empowered Executor.

Handily, the game is brilliant at teaching you how to play it (via a truly unobtrusive tutorial, that is) and also comes complete with a comprehensive built-in manual. And the obligatory wiki of course. Still, what truly matters is that permadeath is optional.

It's either an undead smile or the ASCII art.But, wait, there’s more good things to write. SanctuaryRPG is not all about combat, you know. Nor is it just about loot and sleek mechanics. Or a lovingly retro style.

In your quest to save the realm from the oppressive threat of the evil Matron, you’ll journey through a decidedly quasi-silly overworld, explore it, have dozens of random encounters, visit the Arena, craft a unique crossbow or two, do some strategizing, discover secret areas, buy stuff, sell stuff, meet the locals and even have the blacksmith give you a quest or two. And all this to the sound of some lovely chiptunes.

In a nutshell, play it. This is a game I’d wholeheartedly suggest to anyone with a passing interest in RPGs even if it were a commercial release. Yet, it’s right here; free, loving and waiting for you and your Windows PC to love it back.


  1. Gothnak says:

    This is rather amusing, good show!

    • Konstantinos Dimopoulos says:

      Thanks! Also, trust me, it really gets beyond amusing later on.

  2. Harlander says:

    I’m getting one heck of a LORD vibe from this before I’ve even tried it.

  3. Spacewalk says:

    A 93MB download for a text game? Like, what the heck?

  4. Premium User Badge

    zapatapon says:

    I had good fun with my first character in the game, until I decided to try out the mysterious keystones opening to random dungeons. There I was insta-killed by the first opponent (tried to flee, but with 15% chance of success this was not really a realistic option). Unfortunately I had opted for permadeath and this was quite a letdown.

    So… As fun as the game was, if I am going to be insta-killed by random stuff without warning, I don’t have a lot of motivation to start a new character.

    • Konstantinos Dimopoulos says:

      My suggestion would be to play Sanctuary on a more forgiving difficulty level and try leveling up before entering tougher areas.

      • Themadcow says:

        Yes, you should absolutely try those things. I also find equipping armour / weapons also helps massively in these type of games.

    • Devan says:

      Also, if you don’t mind a little bit of cheating then you can backup the Data directory in the installation folder periodically and then just copy it back if you die. I know it’s not “legit” to do that but I have no patience for losing that kind of time investment and I also don’t want the reduced rate of progression (drop rate) in the non-permadeath setting.

  5. big boy barry says:

    the comedy style reminds me very much of the old channel 4 teletext show called digitizer