Monday, February 25, 2008


I recently have come across a web-based role-playing game by the (IMHO, rather silly) name Sryth. It is an entry in the rather crowded "free to play, but you pay for more content/better characters" space, which is mostly populated by Korean MMORPGs of varying quality and silliness. What sets Sryth apart, though, is the fact that Sryth is entirely text-based. It is unlike traditional computer text adventures, though. In fact, the best comparison that I can make is to the concept of the adventure gamebook (Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf, Golden Dragon, etc.), since you actually move through numbered sections where you read text and choose from a list of possible actions given at the end. It is much more open-ended and free-form, though, which puts it in the same space as the excellent Fabled Lands series, but with infinite room for expansion.

In opposition to the norm, the game does not use character classes. Rather, when making your character, you choose four of eight skills for your character to know, and then you improve skills with experience points you earn during game play. Thus, you can customize your character however you want, but some skills are easier to learn than others, based on your character's attributes. Thus, certain paths immediately present themselves, but you can really do whatever you want. Also, the combat system is generally well-implemented, utitlizing the capabilities of the computer to allow for a more complex system than a gamebook would allow. Specifically, you can choose from three different combat styles each round, which allows for some limited strategy. You can also flee from some combats if you are losing.

Most importantly, the game incorporates a save system that lets you save the game at specific points, which is useful and well implemented. The game is also pretty easy on you if your character dies, just putting you back at your previous save point and maybe taking a hit to your experience points. All in all, it seems to be a well-designed game. There are many, many more quests and adventures to take part in if you pay to get an "Adventurer's Guild" account, which is totally worth it if you like the game, but you can check it out and do some basic stuf for free.

The only real gripe I have about the game is that there are no real clues at the beginning of each quest to how difficult the quest will be, and therefore you can start on an adventure that your character is ill-prepared for and then get absolutely hammered in the first two minutes, thus making you feel like a moron. Some general guidelines could easily be provided on the Adventure menu, to help out new players. Other than that, though, the game seems to be really well thought-out and implemented, and I am looking forward to exploring more of as my time permits.

1 comment:

J P Barnett said...

Re your comment "when making your character, you choose four of eight skills for your character to know, and then you improve skills with experience points you earn during game play," this part reminds me somewhat of Lone Wolf. I've always felt that the gamebook style of choosing a number of skills from a greater list worked well.

As you briefly alluded to, the computer RPG games have traditionally had an advantage over the gamebooks in the area of choices, in that the books always gave you x number of choices to select from whereas the choices seemed limitless in a computer game.

Gamebooks need to take a step forward in this area if they are to have any sort of reasonable success in the future. I write gamebooks myself (4 published, 1 of them through a traditional publisher and the other 3 self-published) and am working on a new series where I am trying to increase the options open to readers by intentionally having some book choices not "appear" at the end of the page. The reader ends EVERY PAGE knowing that there are potentially more choices available to them but they won't know for sure until they go down a path of finding out (which is incorporated under another gamebook mechanic created for this situation). This will increase the replayability of the gamebook so much more.