The Waylanders is a real-time party strategy RPG developed by Gato Studio and available right now on Steam Early Access. The game has a cast of industry veterans behind it with like Fallout New Vegas’ and Planetscape Torment’s Chris Avelone, Dragonage’s Mike Laidlaw, and Telltale Batman’s Emily Grace Buck. Gato has chosen the right ingredients and put them into the pot and stirred until The Waylanders was created. The ingredients are slow-cooking and, at this stage, the game is still in active development. However, my early impressions are extremely positive.
In The Waylanders, you’ll be creating a character from one of 5 different races including an immortal golden-eyed race called the Thaya. You’ll find yourself delving deep into the Celtic and medieval history, which is now filled with fantasy elements and magic. It’s a reality that we see games going the Viking way all the time but it’s not every day that we see the Celtic history getting the spotlight it deserves. The story of Waylanders by itself might not seem that compelling, at least from what I’ve seen in Early Access. However, the character interactions and cutscenes are well thought out and that’s something every RPG lover will appreciate.
You’ll be controlling a party of warriors, mages, and healers in real-time time battle. You have the opportunity to pause the game and plan out your strategy and positioning which results in devastating combos when correctly planned. Playing The Waylanders feels a lot like Dragon Age Origins, a formula that isn’t easy to replicate. The most unique thing that you’ll find in this game is the formation mechanic, with which you can position your party in different ways with different results. This goes beyond basic row or arrow positions, with the ability to form the classic greek phalanx, create a huge golem or summon an arcane tower to shoot down enemies.
Nothing would create the perfect RPG though if not for its robust upgrade system. You can upgrade and unlock new skills as well as assign points to different stats like Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and more. This compliments your respective build perfectly and after a few battles, you’ll find gear making a huge change in your overall battle power. As a lover of turn-based gamers, I found it hard to choose between real-time and pause strategy, which resulted in many rogue battles. You have to be mindful in your any move because it’s easy to stray off your way and leave your party behind. In Early Access, The Waylanders is imperfect at its state right now, which can lead to the party AI falling behind and having to retrace your steps often.
Now that we’ve covered what The Waylanders Steam Access is all about, let’s talk facts. The game is in an imperfect state right now with a bunch of bugs, missing voice acting in cutscenes, and missing elements in its UI and item library. The AI isn’t at its finest state and taking control of the whole party needs some time getting used to. I found it hard at first to interact with the characters and the world around me, although this is something that gets easier and easier the more you play.
In conclusion, I’d like to express my opinion on the current state of the game. The Waylanders is available to buy and play right now on Steam and it is a great chance to play one of the most ambitious titles of its genre right now. However, the final product will be 100 times more complete than it is right now. Will you bypass the fact that the game is buggy and incomplete right now? Will you wait to experience its entirety bugfree at launch? It’s up to you to decide.
The Waylanders is available on Steam through Early Access right now with a release date later this year.