Games like “Diablo III” and “Torchlight II” appeal to me not because of the mass slaughter of bad guys (though it can be fun), but because of the customization involved when leveling up your character. I enjoy molding my character in different ways to see what is effective and what isn’t. It’s this so-called love for this particular gameplay mechanic that drew me to “Battlepaths”, a turn-based RPG that allows the player to customize their character in many different ways. If I had to compare this game to others in my collection, then I’d have to say that it is a cross between the original “Torchlight” and “Dungeons of Dredmor.” Before we sharpen our swords and apply a generous amount of WD-40 to our armor, I’d like to thank Christian Werner, the programmer and “evil mastermind” behind “Battlepaths”, for providing me with a free review copy.
The main menu allows you to start a new character, load an existing one, view credits, and quit the game. You’ll have the ability to view help in the form of a slide show once you’re in-game and adjust a few game options, including a music and sound toggle (music levels can be adjusted whereas sound is toggled on/off), a fullscreen toggle, and a few UI settings. I didn’t see an option for screen resolution and while the help menu displays your keyboard controls, they are not rebindable. The keybinds can take some getting used to and while the mouse is enabled, I only use it when I need to drag items around in my inventory.
Starting a new game allows you to pick a save slot (there are five of them) and choose how you want to assign your starting attributes. You’ll be able to focus on one or two in particular or choose a balanced setup. You won’t have the ability to name your character or change his appearance, but you’ll be able to save your character and load him into the four different realms (the challenge realm is for characters level 20+) that the game has to offer. There is no permadeath, which I appreciate. There is nothing worse than losing hours of work over one bad decision.
To sum up gameplay, you’ll be performing a number of actions each game turn with your character. Once all of your moves for a turn are complete, the enemies onscreen take their turns, assuming they are close enough to notice you. As you defeat enemies, you’ll level up and become more powerful. There’s also a loot system in play, allowing you to equip various armor pieces and weapons to customize your stats further. Like “Torchlight”, you’ll have a stash back at the main town where you can store items along with portals that allow you to warp to other places on the world map. You can buy/sell items and take on quests from NPCs. There are bosses to fight, caves to explore, creatures to summon, and more. The idea behind it all is fairly simple and familiar, but the meat and potatoes of this game take the form of the RPG elements themselves.
First, let’s talk attributes. Experienced RPG players will recognize a lot of the categories and be able to reason out how they function. Strength mainly determines how hard your character hits and what items you can equip as you find them. Endurance determines how many hit points you have. Dexterity, while providing an increase to attack rating, also determines chance to hit and whether or not you can equip certain items. Speed determines how many actions you can take per turn (movement cost). Finally, willpower determines how quickly your special abilities recharge. While all of these attributes have a base function, they influence basic and advanced abilities in various ways.
Abilities come in a variety of forms: basic, advanced, and passive. While each category has a number of different abilities to choose from, the player is only allowed to have a total of four. You’ll be able to choose from these three categories as you level up, in any way you see fit.
The basic abilities are designed to complement the primary attributes…that is, power strike compliments strength, regeneration compliments endurance, eagle eye compliments dexterity, and haste compliments speed. In some cases, the power of these abilities is determined by how high the base attribute is. The advanced abilities can be taken once you pick the complimenting basic ability. For example, warcry can be taken after picking up the power strike ability. The health boost and flash advanced abilities compliment the regenerate and haste abilities, respectively.
Adventuring and natural resistances make up the passive abilities category. Adventuring gives players a number of bonuses like increased magical items and gold find, along with the ability to swim. Swimming allows you to reach places you otherwise couldn’t, including treasure rooms that contain some really nice loot. Natural resistances improves your resistance to poison, curses, and magic, which is a nice overall defense buff.
Weapon skills fall into a separate category and are broken up into the weapon types you’ll find in the game. You’ll have a skill for swords, a skill for axes, a skill for bludgeons, and a skill for piercing weapons. As you use a particular weapon, you’ll gain experience points in the appropriate category. Each weapon category will provide you with various bonuses to offense, whether it’s an increase to critical strike chance or a straight out attack damage buff.
Loot is another big feature of the game. “Borderlands” kept me plenty busy as I attempted to manage all of the loot I had collected in my travels…this game turned out to be no different. Like in most RPGs, you’ll have specific slots for you gear that affect your base stats in some manner. You’ll also have a small inventory space available to store the gear and potions that you may find along the way. In addition to affecting your base stats and attributes, you’ll see loot providing various buffs to attack rating, armor class, movement cost, and etc. All of these things can be found on the character screen. The loot you find is color coded based on rarity to help you pick out the common items from the really good ones.
Overall, “Battlepaths” is an excellent RPG that is both fun and addicting. I really like how all of the different mechanics, be it loot or abilities, tie in together so that you can create the character that YOU want. Want to create a powerful tank? Throw points into endurance and pick up regeneration. Want to go all out on strength but don’t want to miss your attacks on a regular basis? Pick up the eagle eye ability. Just because an ability is catered to a specific attribute doesn’t mean you can’t mix and match to form combinations that suit you best. What I like best about the game however is that the mechanics are simple enough to where a player can make the numbers behind the stats as complicated as they want them to be. Perhaps twenty years ago I’d have had the patience to crunch out numbers and abilities to see what worked best, but now I just enjoy picking abilities and equipping gear to see where the numbers take me. Character customization is really where “Battlepaths” shines and in my opinion, the game is well worth the current price tag of $1.99 (as of 2/21/13). If you enjoy RPGs at all, then picking up “Battlepaths” is a no-brainer, especially at that price.
Final Verdict: 9/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Battlepaths” by visiting the following websites:
You can help bring the game to Steam by voting for it on its Greenlight page, here:
You can view video play sessions here: