270 people found this review helpful
6 people found this review funny
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 45.2 hrs on record (22.2 hrs at review time)
Posted: Feb 9 @ 11:58pm
Updated: Feb 10 @ 12:17am

Early Access Review
Important note: I'm writing this in the first week after early access release; if you're reading this much further into development, I'd recommend checking out more recent reviews. I'll most likely update this at a later date. Feel free to remind me if you see a significant difference in played time between review and whenever you're reading this.

The good stuff

Stoneshard's gameplay reminds me of one of my favourite games of all time, Angband. Angband was one of the original dungeon crawler roguelikes, released in 1990 with glorious ASCII graphics and a brutal difficulty that made me rage quit but always return, addicted. Although Stoneshard is a modern game, with an actual storyline and an overworld and voice acting and all that fancy jazz, it still very much captures that addictive level of oldschool challenge for me. You have to be incredibly careful, from your skill and spell choices, to where you choose to explore, to what items you carry with you - managing equipment, potions, medical supplies, food, drink and money. You will have to plan and you will have to micromanage and if you're already feeling your veins fill with rage at the very thought, this game is not for you.

There's a lot to discover here, long skill trees with plenty of options (if you can find the books to learn them), a wide variety of armor and weaponry to allow you to play all the archetypes of tank, archer, mage and melee with plenty of flexibility to mix it up. Environments and enemies are interesting and the two towns currently available filled with lore and unique characters. The storyline is intriguing and has potential; although I think it's too early to give any real verdict on it.

The turn based combat is brutal and you're really punished for your mistakes, so don't make them. On the normal adventure, you can die as much as you want, but you'll lose all your progress since your last save, which are in very limited locations so you can easily lose a few hours of progress.

It's a good start.

The downsides, caveat - Early Access

There are some flaws and the game has had a few frustrating moments for me. The tutorial itself feels glorious - you are offered a wide range of character builds, explore a fun dungeon, pick up glorious loot and then end with a well designed boss. Then everything you've done is over and you're given a cookie cutter character class start and told to do a bunch of side quests whilst the main character sits in a tavern drinking beer for a week. This felt really jarring and the fun level dropped massively. Having a full custom character creation and perhaps an extra skill point and skill book to start would far more suit this game in my opinion. I do like the difficulty level, but having to restart the game 4 times to decide on a character to play isn't about strategy or planning. If the game is intended to be open build; then let people build from the start.

I'll be honest, there was a point around 2 hours where I was having so little fun playing a character build (melee, ugh) I wasn't happy with, frustrated at the difference in feel between the tutorial and the actual game, dying to wolves in the forest and getting mugged by bandits, not even reaching the side quests let alone completing them, that I considered refunding it. I'm glad I persisted. Once I found the character I wanted (I have a level 6 pyro archer, breaks like a twig, but stuff has to catch me first!) and had gained a few levels, things just clicked and the game became super fun again but there's that little starting slog that I think is going to turn people away. If you're sitting at this point wondering whether to continue - do stick with it.

It hinges on the future

I'm not going to rant about the unnecessarily brutal save system, because the developers have already begun implementing improvements. The fact that the developers have been so reponsive to community feedback is very encouraging. I'm always on the fence about early access games. Some are massive successes, but I've got more flops than hits in my library... and more abandonware than both combined. I hold a reasonable amount of hope for this one. I'm 20 hours in, which is more than I spend in a lot of full release games.

I'm going to recommend this game if you like challenging roguelikes with oldschool mechanics and fancy taking a risk on an early access game. I do feel like this is going to be a polarizing choice, a love em or hate em game, but I'm happy with my purchase.

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14 Comments
Rookshack Feb 20 @ 11:05pm 
The recent updates have changed my mind for the better. I am hopeful for the future of this game. The genre has been lacking in quality and there is nothing holding it up at the moment.
Enishte Feb 16 @ 10:18am 
how to get again the failed question ? Pls answer, of course if we can :D
FruitNDoggie Feb 16 @ 7:36am 
I could see this turning people off, based on your own experience, if they don't refine the game.
Hyu Feb 16 @ 7:16am 
Nc :csgoanarchist:
Rookshack Feb 16 @ 1:59am 
There is a fairly large line between difficult and quality of life. Stoneshard is not the kind of game that you would schedule your life around, not like other notorious time dumps such as wow etc. Without a proper saving mechanism implemented into the game all the great content, (and there IS PLENTY OF IT) is simply, fundamentally irrelevant.
Stier Feb 15 @ 11:52pm 
Great review!
Mich King 3.0 Feb 15 @ 9:14am 
very nice
WeldingUnit Feb 13 @ 9:17pm 
I have no problem with the save feature, i think its awesome the way it is and if you guys/gals want training wheels for your bike i hope they keep a mode for us who like a challenge and appreciate the costs involved with adventuring, ( plan ahead or fail and know when to creep cautiously and when u can strut through the wilderness ).
Also for some of those complaining about difficulty, i spent my first few levels wondering around town hunting beasts and getting a little bank roll going.. after a couple level ups i didnt find the quests to be all that difficult.
I like that the wolves are tough they are not a walk in the park, u need to separate them one by one from the pack at early levels.
krudemon Feb 13 @ 12:34am 
When the put the saves in the game that make it worth putting time into Ill be all over this game. They are fighting it now saying how hard it would be but Ill bet you my cat they put them in.
jmoney Feb 12 @ 7:39pm 
If you like Angband you should just play that developer's latest game, Tales of Maj'Eyal, aka TOME - te4.org (also on steam) - it's fantastic.