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Project Witchstone – PAX West 2019

Project Witchstone has a lot of bold features that take RPG games to a new level. It’s meant to be a return to tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons where the limit is whatever your imagination can conjure up. While every game has its limitations, Project Witchstone aims to minimalize those limitations through the ability to craft your own dialogue, approach quests in many ways such as stealth, diplomacy, or combat, and decide what your character’s goals are.

When originally hearing about this game, I figured it was too good to be true. Dungeons & Dragons is one of my favorite games of all time, and I’m skeptical of any game that claims to have comparable freedoms. However, Project Witchstone, at least from what I saw at PAX West 2019, seems to bring it all to the table. It really does have everything from different factions to personalities for every character. All of your choices directly affect the world around you and how the people in it see and treat you.

Project Witchstone - Town Square

The combat comes as a bit of a disappointment at first glance, but it stays true to its tabletop roots. Games typically don’t benefit from a turn-based combat style, but it works considering the inspiration for the game. While trying to accomplish something similar, it appears the narrative doesn’t work in the same way. The game is marketed as a sandbox, and from what I played, it appears the game doesn’t give you any quests necessarily. This could lead to some issues that No Man’s Sky has. Sometimes giving the player that much control over the story is a bit too much to handle. Being dropped immediately into a game and being told you’re supposed to have motivation of some kind is a bit overwhelming. Even D&D campaigns have an ultimate goal in mind; while you can make all kinds of decisions and do just about anything, you still have a story to complete at the end of the day, at least at the start.

It’ll be interesting to see how Project Witchstone approaches this upon release, but overall, this looks like a promising addition to the gaming community. It’s a title that just about anybody can play and have a good time with considering its diversity and dynamicity. It also lends itself to updates and DLC for years to come that could add to the game. Maybe six months after release we get a new town with brand new characters; we might get a new faction that’s going to take over; perhaps we see some large campaigns added to give some predetermined direction. The possibilities are truly endless here.

Project Witchstone is developed by Spearhead Games and is scheduled to hit Steam in Q2 2020.

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