Friday, September 19, 2008
To finish off a week of off-beat roleplaying games, I'm going to do something I haven't really done before - a preview. I'm going to tell you all about a game that isn't even out yet, called Eoris Essence. This is not only one of the most original games I've seen, it's also just about the most beautiful game ever.
I ran into the guys who make Eoris at GenCon. They had an amazing book, plus a card game and a board game. The book was break-down-crying gorgeous, so I had to stop and see what I could do to score a free copy (I'm a total whore like that). Turns out this is a preview copy, and they're not even releasing the actual cover until the book comes out in December, so I have to wait like everyone else to get my grubby mitts on the finished product. Sometimes this reviewing gig isn't as awesome as I thought it would be when I got started.
So you're asking yourself, 'Self, how the hell is he going to review a game that's not even out yet, when he hasn't seen the finished product?' And if you were to ask me instead of yourself, I would point out that this is a preview, not a review. It says that in the title. Can't you read?
The Visions of Essence guys released a preview of Eoris Essence so you can get a feel for how totally wacky this bad boy is going to be. It's chock full of gorgeous art and enough background information to let you decide whether you want to give it a whirl. There are a few characters, some races, and a little bit about a lot of things.
The basic background is difficult to describe. There's God, see, and she dreams, or something, and that makes the world, and then that makes Sil, which are like angels, or something, and there are normal people, and there are Xylen, which are like demons, or something, but maybe not. That's not even remotely a good summary of the setting, and is probably wildly inaccurate, but like I said, this is tough to describe. It reminds me a lot of some of the more esoteric Japanese console games. In fact, lots of this art is very reminiscent of one of my favorite Playstation RPGs, Legend of Dragoon.
A quick perusal of the preview will let you see a character type who was created from scratch using the game system. This is much more than just giving your character a couple cross-class skills and making him a half-orc - the character in the preview is from a race completely created from scratch, and is an entirely new invention. I asked the designers about this, and yes, you can create entirely new races from your imagination and have them be completely playable. If you make a four-armed centaur that poops rainbows, he might have some trouble fitting in at school, but the point is, you can make that (though maybe not the rainbow poop thing).
One thing that is really interesting about Eoris is that you can play at any level. Take, for instance, an adventure where enormously powerful forces are clashing, and they're taking the world with them. You could play as the Sil challenging the enemy Xylen over control of a mortal kingdom. You could be the warrior who kidnaps the princess to force the enemy to back off (the princess may just be a pawn, but she's a valuable pawn). You could play as the diplomat negotiating for her release. Or you could be the wolf running with his pack through the forest where these two huge armies meet up. The idea is to challenge players emotionally and explore different points of view, and allow you to experiment with whatever kind of game you want to play.
The preview doesn't give any details at all regarding the system used in Eoris Essence, but I was able to wheedle a few nuggets from the designers. All the stuff you love about big RPG fights is still in there - lots of cinematic beatdowns and wild moves - but there's a possibility for 'social combat' (whatever the hell that means) that will let the less violent members of your group do something besides standing around and offering encouragement.
This is pretty radical stuff. The setting is completely unlike just about any game you've ever seen. The ability to create your own player race is just one example of the flexibility of the game. The resolution system, while completely unknown at this point, seems to offer versatility like no game before. There is so much here that is uncharted territory that it could cause some traditional gamers to wonder whether the designers can pull off such a revolutionary gaming concept. Hell, I'm wondering that myself - but I can't wait to see the game.
High-brow gaming concepts
Incredible flexibility and versatility
Non-standard background may be a little inaccessible to your average American cave nerd
Don't take my word that this is an amazing game. Go download the preview here:
Posted by Matt Drake at 9:40 AM