Sea Horizon is a dice-based Roguelike RPG that was just recently released in Early Access on Steam. The premise follows a band of adventures on a journey to stop some big evil in the world. As you manage your food and travel or sail through the world, you encounter enemies that may or may not put an end to your journey – but the most interesting thing about the game is the dice-based that makes incredibly fun builds possible and adds a lot of layers of strategy to the game.
Developer: 45 Studio Publisher: 45 Studio Genre: Indie, Early Access, Turn-Based, Roguelike, RPG Release Date: May 2nd, 2022 Reviewed on: PC Available on: PC Copy was provided by the developers.
With the land of Myrihyn shattered into thousands of islands, sailing appears to have proven to be the most efficient way of travelling. Hence, you begin your journey at the starter town, setting out into a world full of dangers, in a quest to find a ship to travel the world with, get stronger, and at last, challenge the aforementioned big evil. The game’s protagonist is one of several different interesting characters, each with its own gimmicks and mechanics. You can see that this game took some inspiration from games like Slay the Spire, Monster Train or Necronator with these classes but overall, I found the execution to be rather unique and interesting. While the game may look like a roguelike deckbuilding game, it actually really is not. Sure, the turn-based combat with the enemy intents and stuff is similar to some of these games but in reality, the game plays more like a JRPG with roguelike mechanics in my opinion.
Combat itself revolves around rolling the dice to get different resources to then use attacks and other abilities. There are four types of resources that I like to call “mana” as they essentially work like that: Attack, Magic, Defence, and Nature. If you roll three swords and one shield with your dice, you may block once and attack thrice in this turn. Different abilities take different amounts of resources and hence, you’re able to work out specific builds and interesting interactions between your abilities based on what gear you have. Abilities are acquired through level-ups. You can equip a total of five abilities but between fights, you can switch these out as you wish, which is a nice touch. The gear you collect doesn’t necessarily give you “stats” either but rather buffs up your dice on top of granting you specific bonuses that you may consider when creating a powerful build. Higher-rarity equipment adds more rolls to your die, allowing you better chances to roll more resources and fewer duds. At the same time, they also dictate what kind of resources you can roll and how frequently they appear. This sounds somewhat complex but in practice, it’s quite easy to pull off, even when you don’t fully understand the processes behind the rolls. Just roll the die and see what you can work with each turn.
The characters that you unlock are fairly versatile as well, allowing you to go for different builds on each depending on your needs and preferences – but what’s more important is that you can essentially unlock them as you go on or you just play them as a party in the dungeon mode. Both the story mode and the dungeon mode are a lot of fun, although I find the story mode to be a bit lacking in the actual story-telling department. I think the game could profit a lot from adding random events to it that randomize the runs further from each other. Similarly, I’d love to see artefacts or upgrades that aren’t necessarily tied to gear, allowing you to create further synergies in your builds. I think that could be quite a lot of fun. Another thing that I found rather annoying was the “food” mechanic. As you travel the hexagonal tiles in the overworld, you consume food that needs to be resupplied at camps and cities. I practically have always failed runs because of this mechanic – not because of poor planning but rather because it just doesn’t seem to fit into the fights and the core gameplay loop. I don’t think this feature adds any value to the game and I found it quite frustrating to lose a run to starvation of all things.
And well, as the game was only just released in Early Access, I’m sure that this system could get overhauled or removed altogether. I found it to be more of a bother rather than an actual fun feature, really. The game also has “skins” that you unlock with in-game currency, which is nice, but I think tying that to certain achievements would be better rather than just grinding out runs. At the same time, I like the idea of passing on your legacy and giving your next try a boost with some powerful gear, but I think that there should be some restrictions to this or that the next Adventurer should maybe face more challenges if they do end up accepting this headstart.
As I already mentioned, Sea Horizon is a rather interesting little title that takes inspiration from some of the card battler greats… but it doesn’t necessarily borrow too much from it. Creating builds is fun and the amount of RNG in your combat is rather forgiving yet challenging. I recommend this one to you if you’re into roguelike games with more of a strategic layer to them. If you want to check out the game for yourself, feel free to wishlist it over here! You can also find Sea Horizon’s demo on the store page – which is practically the full game but with fewer characters available to you. Give it a try and see if you like it!