Release roundup: SpellMaster: The Saga, Wordbreaker by POWGI & Royal Frontier

Time for a look at three recent releases you might have overlooked. Here are SpellMaster: The Saga, Wordbreaker by POWGI and Royal Frontier.

SpellMaster: The Saga

Developed by Spellbook Creations and published by Valkyrie Initiate, SpellMaster: The Saga is a PC exclusive that’s out on Steam now, and it’s a game that was heavily inspired by the Gothic series. Its developers are completely open about this as well, so is this a love letter worth reading?

For a very small team of only 2 developers, SpellMaster: The Saga is an incredibly ambitious project, and it took them over four years to make it. The end result is certainly impressive when you consider those parameters – though it also has some of the rough edges you’d expect to come out of that. With a non-linear story, however, there’s certainly no lack of ambition here – as you’re cast into the world of Allion as a sorcerer who goes up against the threat of an invasion by dark gods and their minions.

spellmaster2

With such an epic setup, we were surprised to get through the game in just under seven hours – though the smaller scope and game world are obviously a good fit for the size of the development team. What’s less acceptable is that it feels like things should have been a lot more fleshed out, with the current release feeling like a first chapter of something far grander – though without an “early access” label to the game we don’t think there are more chapters coming in this particular saga.

That’s a shame though, because SpellMaster is stable, looks visually polished and feels like a very decent indie game while it lasts. It could certainly be optimized a bit more, but it shows a lot of promise. Unfortunately those are words you want to be using in a preview rather than for a finished game, but we certainly hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of this developer.

Wordbreaker by POWGI

Over the past few months, we’ve seen developer/publisher Lightwood Games shift their attention towards bringing some of their older titles to new platforms, but Wordbreaker by POWGI is a brand new game that’s out now for Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.

As with all POWGI titles, this one is letter/word-based, and Wordbreaker is a wonderful tie-in to the currently very popular Wordle craze – though here you’re not limited to one puzzle per day. Wordbreaker comes with 120 puzzles, which all have the same objective: guess a five letter word using valid English words, while only using every letter once per word.

wordbreaker

After each guess, the game will tell you which letters are correct, and which are in the right spot – a mechanic originally made popular by the classic board game Mastermind and then applies to word games by Lingo before Wordle suddenly rose to popularity not too long ago. Wordbreaker gives you unlimited guesses so it’s not a high pressure situation in any way, but the gameplay is just as intuitive and addictive.

Wordbreaker comes with a relatively easy trophy list (though you’ll have to complete all 120 puzzles) and is a cross-buy between console generations, but our favorite part of any POWGI game is always going to be the ‘dad jokes’ that follow after each puzzle – usually a pun that has something to do with the word you just found. If you enjoy word puzzles, this is a no-brainer.

Royal Frontier

Out now for all major consoles as well as the PC, Royal Frontier is the new game from Woblyware, who are once again working with Ratalaika Games as their publisher. We played some of their previous collaborations in the past, including the fun platformer Daggerhood, so we were curious to see how Royal Frontier would turn out.

While a lot of Woblyware’s games have been action platformers, this one is more of roguelike/turn-based strategy title and even comes with a story. In it, a group of settlers hires you to keep them safe on their perilous journey – which will see them bump into plenty of combat scenarios. You’ll select three heroes for hire from a growing roster, and after some minor customization options (will you specialize in offensive/defensive perks or magic?) you’ll set out.

royal frontier

In combat, you have a base attack and a special move that uses magic, or you can choose to use an item during your turn. It’s a simple system and we could easily see this being fun as a mobile title as well, with fairly straightforward mechanics. An original touch is that the timing of your button presses factors into how successful your attacks are, which can be just as big of a factor as choosing the right heroes (you’ll unlock more classes are you go on).

It ends up being a fun gameplay loop that involves unlocking power ups and buying useful items and weapons, though it’s also one that lacks the depth of other turn-based strategy games. It comes with an easy trophy list though, which should please trophy hunters – though casual strategy fans will also appreciate what’s on offer here. The game’s audiovisual style is quite similar to the developer’s earlier work, so expect plenty of pixel art characters and backgrounds here – which certainly won’t strain your PlayStation 5. It’s a fun little game though, and we can see why we fondly remembered the developer’s earlier games.

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