Slormancer

The Slormancer Early Access Review

8
Effortless fun

In the midst of a sea of gritty realism and deep, emotional stories, sometimes it’s refreshing to lose oneself in a title that is completely devoted to just having fun. No tortured protagonists or complex moral choices, just pure, unadulterated fun. Slormite Studios’ debut game, The Slormancer, gleefully embraces this with arms open wide, bringing players into a world of dungeons, magic, strange names and prized MacGuffins.

Released in Early Access, The Slormancer is a pixel art loot-based action RPG set in the medieval fantasy kingdom of Adreart. You are summoned by the great hero Bryan McRipped to assist him on a quest most epic. Summoned, you understand, not forced by your grandfather whatsoever. You’re totally not hoping they won’t need you after all. Through a fetch quest gone awry, it is suddenly up to you, the village dead weight (no, really), to put an end to the evil Slormancer Ohm Agad and his bumbling underling who have shown up pretty much on cue to take over the world. Again.

You can probably pick up on the game’s overall tone. While there are a plethora of titles that satirise fantasy RPG tropes, The Slormancer is fairly unique in that it’s hardly ever too heavy-handed about its humour. Many titles wield the parody angle like a sledgehammer, socking players left and right with dialogue and events that scream, “We’re THIS kind of game, can you tell?!” But here the humour naturally hits its mark every time, sometimes to the point of eliciting unexpected belly laughs — an approach that’s more in line with the game’s sardonic tone.

Might or Magic

 You can play as one of three very reluctant but recognisable classes: the “Mighty” Warrior, the “Fierce” Huntress or the “Mischievous” Mage. They will tell you in no uncertain, but extremely convincing terms, why you shouldn’t pick them, which led me against my usual bow tendencies to pick the Mage. However, you are free to switch between characters at any point to change playstyles and mix things up. Each class has a comprehensive collection of skills and abilities to master, all highly customisable with multiple skill trees and aspects. Some are hilariously inventive too, like the Mage’s ‘Book Smash’ (my personal favourite) which allows you to smite your foes with knowledge, literally!

Combat is punchy and fast-paced with sprays of projectiles and artful dodges, akin to bullet hell but not so overwhelming that you lose concentration in all the kerfuffle. And like any loot-based RPG, there’s an endless array of items for players to get their hands on with an infinite upgrade system. No worrying about sacrificing damage for armour as you can attach an unlimited amount of perks to make yourself every bit the hero you’re expected to be. Slormite Studios know what looty fans like!

But with lots of options, items and skills comes lots of text-heavy explanations of their uses and effects, as is typical of the genre. The Slormancer is perhaps too extensive on that front; the inventory and skill menus are filled with walls of text at times, which can be a little intimidating, especially for new players. Even the witty item summaries underneath are overshadowed by it. The text is also very small, and will be a little taxing to read even for those with excellent eyesight. Thankfully the pixel art graphics are easy on the eyes, blending classic pixel sprites with wacky, cartoon-like movements; the walking and running animations are endlessly entertaining.

A Wonderful Debut

The Slormancer also boasts “a soundtrack so breathtaking that you will never want to hear something else again”. Admittedly I didn’t even fight any urge to raise my eyebrow in skepticism. Consider my hand well and truly slapped: the music is simply phenomenal. Epic orchestral scores are mixed with bouncy Saturday morning cartoon vibes and even hints of Danny Elfman-esque ambience. Think classic Tim Burton soundtracks like Edward Scissorhands or The Nightmare Before Christmas. It matches the game’s dark yet whimsical aura perfectly and appeals to both the intellectual and child in you. Never mind their own trumpet, Slormite can blow their own entire brass section!

The Slormancer is a marvellous debut from the two-men developer. Like a nicely blended cocktail—a satisfying Singapore Sling—all the elements complement each other well, the tone is just right and every sip will keep you saying “Just one more quest”. The gin may have settled in places which makes the concoction a touch heavy, but it’s not, by any means, completely off-putting. And for an Early Access title, very few bugs or glitches occur, aside from the occasional character stuttering and phasing pixels, which doesn’t affect gameplay in the slightest. For those looking for an effortlessly funny and unapologetically fun romp with oodles of loot, have a sip of The Slormancer. You’ll acquire quite the taste for it.