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Stolen Realm Review

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After the success of Baldur’s Gate 3, I am constantly surprised that there hasn’t been a spate of games plundering the Dungeons and Dragons playbook for inspiration. After all, when a game is popular, there’s usually a million clones that pop up like mushrooms after a rainstorm. 

However, step forward Burst2Flame Games with Stolen Realm. They are making no secret of the inspiration they have received from D&D. So, can this game bring anything new to the genre, or is it just a case of “been there, done that”? Well, strap on your sword, we’re going to find out right now. 

Stolen Realm review 1
Ready for loot?

Billed as “high fantasy in a low poly world”, this is pretty much the perfect description of Stolen Realm. The presentation of the world is split between the town, our hub where we get prepared for the battles to come, and the actual dungeons that we have to delve into. Obviously, when I say dungeon, this can be anything from a mine to a burning desert, and the backdrops that we fight and explore in are all very different. 

The low poly bit comes in via the design of our heroes and enemies, who have a pleasing look and animation to them. The camera is infinitely adjustable, being able to zoom in and out as well as rotate; you can always see what is going on. The sound is good as well, with certain passages voice acted and some being left to you to read, but the music and battle sound effects are impressive. However, there is a weird glitch with the voice overs (and this isn’t the only one, see a later paragraph) where Stolen Realm starts glitching when the voice over is about to start – the music repeats, sounding like a stuck CD, the action on the screen freezes, and then it carries on when the narrator begins speaking. This is a little off putting, to say the least. 

A narrator? That must mean we have a narrative? And yep, that’s exactly what we have in Stolen Realm – a story to tell us why we are going to go and put ourselves through some trials. It revolves around the father of our main hero. He was an explorer, and as he went around digging things up, it appears he discovered something that should have stayed hidden. The first mission sees us recovering his journal, and from there we have to follow the clues he laid down, meeting various people he used to know. It’s just these guys seem to have changed and need the application of a good kicking. 

There are various elements to Stolen Realm that come together to create a whole game. There’s the time we spend in town, for instance, visiting various merchants to buy new gear and upgrade the stuff that we have. There are also merchants selling potions and rare materials as well. There is not a lot to do here apart from shopping, to be honest, and so when it is time to go and kick some enemy butt, we have to head to a portal on the outskirts of town. 

Stolen Realm review 4
Wizardy ways

This takes us to a world map, with various nodes to explore. The main missions are quite well separated, requiring some course plotting through the various nodes that act as side missions. Obviously, having extra missions to do helps us level up, and this in turn then makes the main missions easier; it is a win-win situation basically. 

The levelling system is pretty deep and interesting, and has a few main components. First of all, we can spend the points we gain on levelling up to raise our various stats, whether that be Vitality (gives us extra health) or Intelligence (gives us extra mana points to spend on magic attacks ) and so on. 

Secondly, comes the opportunity to unlock new skills in the skill tree. Each character starts off with a basic class, each with differing skills to unlock. For instance, Billy, my pyromancer, can unlock extra fire attacks, and even make his basic attacks imbued with fire, which helps to up his DPS. There are other classes that he can learn attacks from too, and having a fire mage that also has ice attacks makes me smile, in a nerdy kind of way. 

Lastly, there is the chance to earn Fortunes as we explore – passive abilities that give new options when fighting. For instance, I enjoyed having a couple active, one that would increase all damage by a certain percentage, and one that adds poison. New slots unlock at certain points but choosing the right Fortunes to match your build can help a great deal. 

Stolen Realm review 2
Damn toadstools

Now, the actual dungeons of Stolen Realm are all procedurally generated, which means that there will be no two games the same. This is obviously good from a longevity point of view, and helps keep things interesting. And those dungeons load one chunk at a time, with things to collect such as materials and even a fishing mini game, which is an automatic extra half star on the review score at the end. 

Obviously, there are also enemies to fight as we progress to the boss at the end of each dungeon, and here the news is more predictable. The ground is covered in hexes, and the usual procedure follows as in other tactical RPGs – move some hexes, attack enemies and so on, spending AP as we do it. There are no shocks here, but the combat is quite good fun. This is especially the case when we get more powerful, as we can set traps with burning floors and so to make our life easier. The gameplay will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played a tactical RPG in their lives; clear a “chunk” of the dungeon, choose what to face next, be it a battle, a hard battle, a shop, a rest or an event. Most of these are pretty self explanatory, but the events are usually quite interesting. Here is where we see the D&D roots of Stolen Realm come into full effect, usually complete with a set chance to do something; a D20 is rolled on screen to tell us whether we succeed or not. 

There are also a couple of other ways to play the game. The first is the roguelike mode, where it is possible to mix and match classes into builds that aren’t possible in the main game. I’m fairly allergic to roguelikes, to be honest, so I mostly stayed in the main campaign mode. There is also a multiplayer aspect to Stolen Realm, playing with others in a drop in, drop out stylee, or allowing you to control up to six characters on your own to help with your damage output. The more people are playing, the tougher the enemies become, so the difficulty scales with the amount of players. 

Now, the promised issues paragraph, and it is here where the wheels of Stolen Realm begin to fall off. There are numerous little niggles that just annoy, as well as some more serious complaints. There is an issue with the third Main Mission, where we have to fight a boss called The Sultan. The Sultan will summon genies to his aid if you don’t kill him immediately, and then the fight gets confused as despite defeating him, the game thinks that there are enemies still alive and so the level never finishes. I had to lower the difficulty to the lowest option and literally kill him before he could do anything, just in order to get past this mission. As lower difficulty means less loot and EXP, this was a royal pain. This needs fixing, developers!

Stolen Realm review 3
Stolen Realm plays well, but needs some polish

Add in the sound glitches, how the fishing minigame usually means that when you have caught the fish you can then no longer move, requiring a restart of the mission, or how the action freezes when the various dungeon chunks are loading in, and what you have is a game that is crying out for a bit of extra polish. 

The bones of Stolen Realm are basically sound, and while one mission in the campaign is an issue, the rest of the gameplay is pretty good. The Dungeons and Dragons underpinnings ensure things are fun to play, and the tactical action can be challenging, as long as you remember to raise the difficulty again after The Sultan.

All in all, it isn’t the best game in this genre I’ve played, but it is a long way from the worst.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Good combat
  • Interesting art style
  • Deep levelling system
Cons:
  • One mission is ridiculously easy as you have to play it on story mode
  • So many glitches, really needs some polish
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Burst2Flames
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PC
  • Release date and price - 8 March 2024 | £16.74
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Good combat</li> <li>Interesting art style</li> <li>Deep levelling system</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>One mission is ridiculously easy as you have to play it on story mode</li> <li>So many glitches, really needs some polish</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Burst2Flames</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PC <li>Release date and price - 8 March 2024 | £16.74</li> </ul>Stolen Realm Review
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