Freeware Garden: SanctuaryRPG
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.
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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:
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.
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.