Currently under development by independent outfit Fishing Cactus based in Mons in Belgium, and available on Steam Early Access, Nanotale is a top-down RPG with a difference; the game incorporates a combat system based on typing in words to deal attacks as opposed to traditional hack ‘n’ slash RPGs made in the same vein such as Diablo and Baldur’s Gate. Even in its early stages of development, this game has made me particularly excited for its full release in light of how much potential it has. It impressed me in almost every aspect possible and although there is room for improvement in my opinion so the full potential of this title can be realized upon release, there is indeed a great deal of scope to go on to become one of the standout indie games of 2020. Going into this game in details, this is what I thought of the game in its current state:
Unlike many other top-down RPGs, this game unusually makes use of cel-shaded visuals as opposed to other more realistic-looking top-down RPGs such as Diablo III and Victor Vran. As it stands, the world of Nanotale that has been created up to this point is one of the most vibrantly designed in-game worlds I’ve seen throughout the entire community of indie developers and the tranquil soundtrack accompanies it perfectly. Making use of a full orchestra, it changes depending on the player’s situation in lieu of RPG tradition, but it will be interesting to see how this aspect of the game is developed further as the making of it progresses.
However, what I thought to be the most impressive factor of this game is its style of play. Going against almost every tradition of the RPG genre, it relies on the player having to type words in as quick a succession as possible in order to not only string attacks together but to solve environmental puzzles in order to uncover secrets and progress further across the game’s world. The combat is intense on a level that I hadn’t thought possible for a system that works the way it does. On top of that, there is also a certain degree of strategy that can be employed which makes the combat system even more varied and enjoyable. It doesn’t go against every RPG tradition, as there is also a level-up system whereby players must increase their stats to progress further and to fight more complex battles, but the way in which it has been handled by the developers has made for a very enjoyable experience up to this point.
In addition, the game’s control scheme also presents no unnecessary complications, which going into it, I thought might’ve been the case, since I personally prefer playing these types of games with a controller. But as it happens, what concerns I thought I may have had have been addressed and I felt the game’s unique controls only add to the charm of this title; it’s a bold re-invention of RPG combat that works incredibly well.
The game in its current state can only be made to last there around 4 hours, which if it stays like this, will inevitably be the game’s biggest drawback. It would be an insulting amount of time for a game within its genre to last compared to the average RPG and at this moment, it is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed. With the creation of more locations to explore and sidequests to be carried out it can potentially be made to last as much time as any big-name RPG in the Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest series’, but for the game to last any less than a minimum of 20 hours would make the entire experience seem far too fleeting.
The story of Nanotale revolves around a young wizard, known as an archivist, who is embroiled in a quest to heal a dying world and to discover its secrets and wonders whilst restoring an entity known as the heart of magic. It’s a spiritual successor to a game made in the same vein by Fishing Cactus called Epistory. The plot certainly has the potential to provide players with a great many twists and turns along the way and the elements such as the soundtrack and the general feel of the game’s environments can only work to add to the overall atmosphere of the story, similar to games like Ori & The Blind Forest and Ato.
Predominantly in terms of gameplay, this is one of the most unique titles I’ve seen in a long time; the combat system works to an extent that I hadn’t imagined at first glance to have worked, the use of cel-shaded visuals makes it stand out among a lot of fantasy RPGs developed throughout the years and the unique approach to combat gives it a certain amount of challenge that will feel like a breath of fresh air to many fans of the genre, as indeed it did with me.
Overall, Nanotale looks set to be an exciting RPG experience with potentially a lot to offer gamers in every aspect. It looks as beautifully designed as any other top game in the genre without making use of cutting-edge graphics and if the game can be made to last longer than what it currently does, there is certainly scope for it to stand out among one of the better RPGs to be released in recent years.