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SanctuaryRPG: Black Edition

By Bobfish18-02-2015
SanctuaryRPG: Black Edition

The Defence

Black Shell Games
Black Shell Games
Action, Adventure, Indie, Role Playing
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Pentium 4 1.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 6400
AMD equivalent
512 MB
200 MB

The Case

Like Roguelikes? Like RPGs? Like penises drawn with letters? Well, SanctuaryRPG: Black Edition this could be the perfect game for you. The world’s first, and so far only, ASCII RPG...that can be played on a toaster. Really! Okay, not really, but shush. If it’s not the obvious, it’s rather silly. But the question we have to ask ourselves, is “is it any good?” Well, we don’t have to, but this is a review, so it would be kind of odd if we didn’t. Or at least I didn’t. You can do whatever you like, nobody cares about you. But I digress.

The Trial

Okay, let’s get this out of the way right now. This game is stupid. And when I say stupid, I mean stupidly stupid. The kind of stupid that makes you step back and marvel at the stupidity of how stupid the stupid is. Let me tell you, that’s a lot of stupid. In fact, it’s so much, one might say, that it’s a stupid amount of stupid. However, don’t let that put you off, because it’s the good kind of stupid. The kind that happily, and skilfully, lampoons itself and everything else it sets its gaze upon.

What's the view like from the top of that fourth wall?

What's the view like from the top of that fourth wall?

The ‘gameplay,’ if such it can be called, harkens back to old, old school RPG adventures from days of yore. The kind of games that were already aging by the time I, started gaming. Bearing in mind, that was more than three decades ago kiddies. So let that sink in for a moment. When people say oldschool, they’re talking about newborn babes by comparison. This is the real shizz. Welcome to the world of text adventures kiddo.

Actions are assigned, for the most part, with the number keys, primarily 1-5, with a few other keys cropping up from time to time. Just as Z to go the library and X for secret areas if you happen to find them. So to say the game is simple is, bluntly, a gross understatement. Though don’t let that fool you, it is most certainly not lacking in depth. Building, equipping and developing your character can lead to a great deal of time spent tweaking stats and items to be just right. Assuming, that is, you survive long enough. Which is hardly a guarantee.



Though, to offset the difficulty inherent in a permadeath game, there is a reduced difficulty option that allows you to continue playing post death, but with reduced stats. This does, however, also reduce EXP gained, meaning you will have a harder time actually making your character not suck ass completely. Which is, eh, it’s okay if you want to grind a lot. But really takes away a lot of the fun.

Everything else is as retro as it comes. With the music being silly, repetitive, obnoxiously loud and actually quite enjoyable. With a pseudo 16-bit feel to it. Whilst the visuals...dude, it’s all letters and numbers. All of it. Literally. That’s what ASCII is. Graphics created with keystrokes (characters) on a keyboard. Which you might think is silly (it is) and really dull and boring, which it decidedly is not. A great deal of effort has clearly gone into creating all of the images and...sprites(?) to give them all some personality.

Life lesson right there kids.

Life lesson right there kids.

But what really makes SanctuaryRPG enjoyable is the text. Uhm, like the story text. Actual words, not the graphics text. Like people talking to you and stuff. Like the Blacksmith dude who talks to you, as in you the player, then apologises for breaking the fourth wall. It’s that kind of silliness that takes itself just seriously enough to be entertaining, but has no qualms about ruining a dramatic moment by having the old, ‘dead’ guy open his eyes and ask for one more pull of whiskey. Which doesn’t happen by the way, that’s actually from an anime. But it’s that kind of humour.

Basically, this is a stupid game that will keep you entertained and trick you into being hooked on the mechanics. Battling enemies and figuring out the correct sequence of attacks to use, when to heal, when to “reposition” (a multi-purpose dodge/backup/move somewhere else) and when to unleash your special attack is suitably engaging and rewarding. Ultimately making this one of those occasions where you actually want to get away from that pesky story and get back to killing stuff.

The Verdict

So when push comes to shove, there’s really nothing more to say than it’s silly, and it’s fun. Which is all you really need sometimes.

Case Review

  • ASCII: Because penises are not just for YouTube comments.
  • Humour: Sorry about the wall of text, but it was important.
  • Mechanics: The presentation is simple, the stuff under the hood not so much.
  • Difficulty: It’s a Roguelike, so a dead character is dead. That is really annoying when it’s one you spent a lot of time on.
  • Text: At times it’s a little text heavy, at others far too light. The balance is just a tad awkward.
Score: 4/5
Alignment: Silly and Strange. Judgement: Stupid Good Fun.
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