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ASCII Me Anything: Stone Story

An RPG with indirect control

Stone Story [official site] looks like it contains elements of both A Dark Room and Kingdom of Loathing. It's an RPG, using ASCII visuals to impressive effect, in which you have no direct control of the player character. You can choose what items to equip and which locations to visit, but the exploration, combat and looting is in the hands of the AI. Developer Standard Combo creates beautiful ASCII art, some of which you can see below, and I love seeing familiar RPG environments and creatures recreated in this style.

Although you won't have direct control of the character, this isn't an idle game, or a clicker. One of the key features discussed in a recent devblog is a crafting system that works through combinations of otherwise disposable items. Discovering the 'recipes' that make new items is all in the player's hands:

"I've always known that, as a western RPG, the game needs a way to dump duplicate and low-level items. Lots of games solve this by allowing items to be sold for soft currency. That's what Hearthstone does, for example, but there are several solutions. I want to try this combination system in Stone Story because Little Alchemy always stuck with me as an effective design deconstruction, and I've been looking for an opportunity to reconstruct that mechanic into a full game. My hypothesis is that, figuring out the item combinations is fun by itself and fits with Stone Story's main emotional drive, which is Curiosity. I further hope that, as your character becomes more powerful, finding low level items will be seen by the player as a positive thing, instead of a negative. This feature creates interesting design space, which allows me to do things such as a treasure chest full of many copies of stuff - a mechanic that I have seen proven recently in Clash Royale."

The game is heading to mobile but will also be available to play on the web. Enough talk though - here are some of those lovely animations:

First up, a wonderful waterfall.

And an even more wonderful moonlit lake.

Oh, hey, and ASCII can do a handsome UI as well.

And - KRAACK - a lightning spell.

Best of all, though, is this horrible bastard.

If you'd like to see more fancy ASCII art, check out Standard Combo's recent Ludum Dare game Pyramid Builder. It's a miniature isometric settlement management game that you can download for free right now.

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About the Author

Adam Smith

Former Deputy Editor

Adam wrote for Rock Paper Shotgun between 2011-2018, rising through the ranks to become its Deputy Editor. He now works at Larian Studios on Baldur's Gate 3.