Posted: November 29, 2013
Eschalon is being marketed as an old-school role-playing game inspired by the classics. This is an adequate description of the game, but unfortunately the game does not succeed in adequately copying all the good qualities of the classics that it is inspired by.
The game does have it's strengths for sure. Character creation is very detailed and let's you create the character you want to play by choosing such things as race, class, skills, the region where the character grew up and the character's religion (or lack thereof) and all of these choices make a difference.
Another strength is in how the turn-based system works. When you move or perform any action time flows. When you don't time stands still. This means that the game can have as high or low a pace as you want it to have at any given moment and that it moves seamlessly from a high to a low pace and vice versa. There is no waiting, e.g. for enemies to complete their turn, and you can also take as much time as you need to think before acting.
The game has a reasonable amount of optional side-quests, different items to find and different regions to explore. The graphics are nothing special, but entirely adequate. The music is quite good. So far, it all sounds pretty good.
Where does the game fail, then? Unfortunately it fails at the most important thing for this kind of game. Combat! What is wrong with it? It doesn't require any skill. You control a single character with a rather limited repertoire of combat actions, mainly slashing/bashing, shooting, or burning the enemies, The same is true for the enemies. This would be okay in a Diablo-like action RPG where the fun and the challenge comes from the high pace. But for a turn-based RPG this is not adequate, combats should require some strategic thinking and since here they don't fighting enemies becomes a dull routine matter. Since much of the game, like with most RPG's, consists of fighting this is clearly no good.
All in all, Eschalon is an old-school turn-based RPG with a couple of good qualities which is unfortunately dragged down by dull combat. I wouldn't really want to call it a bad game, but there are plenty of better games in the genre (although Eschalon beats many of these games in some respects, only not where it really matters) that I would recommend over this one.