Shroud of the Avatar is like a modern-day Ultima Online with a nod to old-school RPGs. This conclusion is based solely on the 11-minute gameplay demo shared by Richard Garriott (aka Lord British), the man behind both of these games. And I loved every second of it that I watched. As a fan of Garriott's Ultima series, seeing him approach a new game with that same classic RPG mentality is very welcomed.
In a video released earlier this week, Lord British himself narrates a lengthy walkthrough in which he shows off just some of the features in his upcoming game. While Garriott explains this is just an early prototype of the game, you do get a nice sense of the old-school RPG charm — no stackable inventory, no "take all" button, and no quest log. Those things could be added later on in the development cycle, but for now it seems Garriott wants to approach the game with an old-school mentality.
You also get to see the game's crafting system which involves gathering resources (dragging each individual log to your inventory bag) and then taking them to a crafting table where Garriott builds his own chair — and sits in it, an action which he explains was a "hard fought process" back in the early days of game development.
But the coolest feature, by far, seems to be the conversations you can have with NPCs. By simply typing English language phrases you can have full conversations with villagers in the town. They recognize what you tell them and remember things about you. By chatting it up with the barkeep, Garriott's character learns of a dungeon with something called the "Throne of Bone." You aren't assigned a quest, but with the knowledge of this dungeon you are free to go off on your own adventure and explore this story. As Garriott explains, "There is no quest log in the game. It is really up to you as a player to see what is happening in the game and make decisions about what you believe is important and what you believe you should do."
Later in the video, Garriott goes on to explore the dungeon where he encounters multiple puzzles and traps before reaching the Grand Lich. Combat is in the very early stages, but you get the overall gist of dungeon exploring in the game.
As you can see, Shroud of the Avatar is still in the very early stages, but it definitely looks promising. The old-school RPG mentality still seems to be at the forefront of Garriott's new game, but it has a new-school kind of look to the game. For fans of Garriott's Ultima RPG series, Shroud of the Avatar certainly seems to be living up to the hype of a "spiritual sequel."
What did you think of the 11-minute gameplay video?