by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Take over a dilapidated building and be a guild leader? What’s the worst that could happen?
Guilds of Delenar is a Guild Management/Turn-Based RPG that is presently in the Early Access phase on Steam. It follows a group of would-be adventurers trying to make their way in the world who stumble into control of a Guild. The only catch is that there is a rival guild in town that more or less has run of the place. They’re tyrannical, and often overlook bandits, thieves, and other criminals so that they can make more money. This game (at the time of preview) only had one village to play through, but it took a good two-three hours to successfully win over this town and become famous. You start with a few heroes and can recruit more at the Bar just south of your Guild House. I was able to complete this entire scenario with just my created party and the two or three characters that came with my Guild House though. Having more characters would let me navigate the map with multiple groups and complete quests faster, but there are a few things holding that back.
The zoom in/out of the map is incredibly slow, and despite running this on a 1080/i7, the village map freezes and slows/stalls anytime I try to move it anywhere. It would often stall for a second even if I left it alone. Being that this game is still in development, things like this and the other bugs I found are bound to happen. So instead of having groups of parties, I just ran one full party of various classes. You can run Warriors, Priests, and Mages, each with their own talent trees, the equipment they can wear, and abilities. As they grow more powerful, they can learn more advanced skills, but it’s not altogether clear how to level up. Heroes also have a gold-per-day cost, but as long as you’re out exploring, selling unneeded gear, this won’t be an issue. I had overwhelmingly strong heroes, thanks to rare/epic gear, so I never ran out of money.
Each of these towns will have a Win Condition, of certain requirements you need to move on. The first town, for example, needed 2000 fame, a 51% Fame Requirement (have more fame overall than the rival guild), complete 15 Quests, complete the Despot Cave, and then a set of optional quests. I highly recommend doing the optional quests, since the rewards will be more fame and more powerful gear for your team. Each town has a set of buildings, from Churches, Merchants, the Rival Guild(s), and other places with people who are in need of help. The map defaults to being paused, so you can figure out where to go without time passing. Since you need a fame percentage, the other guild is going to be doing quests in town too, trying to build their fame beyond yours. How can you stop them? By kicking the other guild parties in the mouth, that’s how!
While all of the quests you undertake result in battles, you will also find yourself fighting the other guild. You could dodge them and slowly walk on routes they aren’t on, but this will just let their multiple parties build fame and slow down your victory. Each party on the map has its guild logo above their head, which is good because all the characters have the exact same face. You can tell a place has a quest, because it has the tell-tale exclamation mark. You can’t accept the quest unless you’re standing in front of the building, so you click on your party, drag them to where you want them, and then unpause. Clicking the building, then the quest will initiate the quest. Many of them take place right at that spot (clearing a basement of undead), but sometimes you’ll have to walk to a forest or farm and pick some mushrooms. Useful hint: If the battle requirement only needs you to pick those mushrooms, the fight is over as soon as you get the last one.
Everything you do ultimately leads to fighting undead or rival guild members, so let’s go over combat. You’ll be in one of a few battlegrounds: a farm, a cellar, a cave, or a part of town with barrels and boxes stacked up. The battle map always starts zoomed in on a weird part of the map, and you seldom have an idea of where anyone is until you zoom out or drag the map around. Both sides start on opposing places, and you will see a turn list on the top of the screen. Each character has Action Points over their portrait, and passing your turn without using them all will give them a speed bonus for the next turn. If you can’t do anything, it’s often advantageous to wait. It might not seem intuitive at first, but when you move a character (by clicking and dragging them where you want them to go), a blue sphere will periodically show up. That’s the indicator that it used an Action Point to get that far.
You can Move, then Attack, or Move, then Pick Up a Mushroom, but if you Attack, that uses the rest of your turn. You can also see the chance to hit, and the damage range by using an ability and hovering over your target. The game also shows the range each ability has by activating it (pressing 1-6 on your keyboard). However, this leads me to one of the most frustrating things about Guilds of Delenar: movement in combat. It is so hard to move around other units or objects on the map. You cannot move through your allies, you have to walk around them, which uses more Action Points thanks to walking farther. You have to click a unit and gently, slowly drag the cursor around to find exactly where you can/can not walk. It slows down gameplay, and there are times when there are so many units clumped together (about 4/5) that you simply cannot get your Fighter in to kill an enemy. When enemies die, their body stays on the map too, and these must also be navigated. The combat is fun, and the attacks feel good when they land, but actually navigating around things is a frustrating nightmare.
I also found another bug with combat. When you walk into an enemy party (or vice versa), the game asks you to initiate combat. It doesn’t give you an option to run away or to not fight. It shows you what fame/gold you’ll receive for winning, and how much you lose for being defeated. I had an enemy group that I received -35 gold for winning, and when their turn came up, the game crashed. This happened even until the scenario was completed, so I had to avoid them for the rest of the game. When you re-load, the characters were still on top of each other, so I had to figure out exactly how I could continue. Thankfully, I learned that eventually, those enemy units just walk away if you don’t accept the fight. They have pre-determined routes, and they’ll just set right back on them. For the first hour or so of the game, I spent more time doing quests and exploring the Despot Cave, as that’s where I found my best gear. Once I had a few epics/rares, I bullied every fight in the first town without issue. However, if you’re low on HP/Mana, you need to go back to your guild house and put those characters to bed so they can heal. Characters you are not using though have something to do. You can put them in your little dojo, where they slowly build exp.
It’s Going Places:
Guilds of Delenar is a really fun concept. I love management games, I enjoy turn-based strategy, and despite the many crashes that occurred, I still had fun. There are little things that made this enjoyable – a fine example is that the enemy guild’s parties took damage from questing/doing battle with forces that weren’t me. If you timed things right, you could jump a weak guild party and stomp them out. They never run out of characters, but that just means you always have a farm for gold, once you’re powerful. Those bugs don’t upset me, because again, this is still in development. The slowdown was not something I could figure out, as it happened even when Guilds of Delenar was my only program actively running.
Despite these issues, Guilds of Delenar is coming along nicely. I hope more faces will show up for characters because it’s a little weird for everyone to look the exact same. I found myself with more gear than I knew what to do with, but you can sell it for gold, so it ultimately had a purpose. I wish there were ways to restore some MP while traveling, because I had to leave the Despot Cave on four occasions, trying to grind my way through the first battle. I probably tried to go in far before I was ready though. Guilds of Delenar is a simple, fun Guild Management game, and I think that once the world opens up, it could be really interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing other towns have differing requirements/victory conditions.
Guilds of Delenar Screenshots: