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Core So Hard It Cuts Diamond: Serpent In The Staglands

There’s old-school and then there’s old-school y’know? Buried somewhere under the copies of White Dwarf and signed AD&D Monster Manuals, past the cloth map of the Sword Coast and sketches of Zork dungeons lies Serpent in the Staglands [official site]. It’s party-based RPGing in the mold of all your favourites, and I first came across it when one of you fine readers recommended it as a game to add to the RPS 2015 omni-list. Kickstarted for $28k in April last year, beta builds have been with backers for a while, but this trailer is the finest the game has looked. It also gives a hint as to the final release date, which I believe I’ve managed to decode. Come see below.

Something about Serpent really appeals to the part of me that never had the cash or computer for a copy of Baldur’s Gate at the time. It’s right on the razor’s edge of looking like it was made in 1996 without actually looking like it was made in 1996. The dark ‘n’ hopeless medieval look, the spells, even the menu positioning to the sides just bellows of hours spent meticulously crafting characters with 2d4 hit dice.

As you’d expect, combat works on a realtime-with-pause system of strategic decision making. Keep allies out of your fireball radius, stay away from that ogre, you know the drill. It’s trying to improve on that formula though, as the site states:

  • Combat designed for minimal pause spamming and without cooldowns, instead focusing on pre-buffing, positioning and auto-triggering skills

No modernisation when it comes to pursuing quests though:

  • An unmarked map filled with wilderness, cities, towers, temples, dungeons and caverns to explore.
  • Write your own journal notes for quests, puzzles and leads as you investigate. The game won’t hold your hand.

Now, as for that release date. The final part of the trailer is written in the runes that are translated to “Windows, Mac, Linux” on the frame before. Clicking back and forth between them shows shared characters, spelling out “COMING MA” and then one character that was not used and a series of dashes. Taking the dashes as numbers we get “28 2015.” Making the logical leap that it is indeed a date, the missing character is Y, giving us the release date of May 28th, 2015 – or in just a couple of months. You can pre-order at all sorts of levels on the official site, or grab it through Steam when the time comes.

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Ben Barrett

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