An unexpected storm shipwrecks you on the remote island of Azure with little more than your wits about you in Kindred Games adventure RPG, Swords n Magic & Stuff.
Graphically Swords n Magic & Stuff is somewhat devoid of texture, opting for a shiny plastic like veneer but that doesn’t detract at all from it’s unique style as the lighting and shadow work put in by the developer creates both an interesting and beautiful island playground that comes alive due to its day/night cycle.
Before making it ashore though, it’s time to create your character. Offering several options to customise your character’s race, skin colour, cosmetic attire and facial features you start out marooned on your ship atop a large rock. None of the options offer any advantage in stats or starting skills however, so it’s just for show. Both mouse/keyboard and controller options are available at all times and as you make your way through the introductory area it’s nice to see the screen prompts are dynamic, changing depending on whether you are currently rocking the pad or dual wielding the MK combo. A quick button press also allows a camera switch between first and third person for a different viewpoint.
In classic adventure style, Swords n Magic n Stuff offers a number of offensive and defensive options to players that can be changed through as the situation demands. You will likely find yourself swapping around regularly and although the inventory offers some hot swap capability at this point in it’s early access format it’s quite clunky and getting caught in a pinch can quickly lead to your demise as you fumble to equip a different option.
Players can equip a range of Swords, Shields, Bows and magic staffs in either hand with each weapon having its own attack cool down. Shields offer some defense against incoming damage and with some timing can parry attacks offering complete avoidance of harm. Upgrading these becomes standard as you progress and the adversaries you face get stronger and can be done so at most manned outposts or villages by simply interacting with the upgrade table; but only if you hold the prerequisite materials. Experience in weaponry is granted as you defeat enemies or land a hit but at this point it has no bearing on damage or any ability to equip a given type of weapon.
But you’ve likely been drawn here by the promise of adventure and there’s plenty of it to be found. Whether it’s fighting crabs or exploring ruins there’s a varied set of objectives awaiting the intrepid adventurer. Swords n Magic & Stuff doesn’t hold player’s hands though. There are no waypoints or guides, just good old fashioned reading, deciphering and exploration, this could lead to some players getting stuck with some quests but there are plenty on offer for you to have a go at and come back later to where you were stuck.
The overall exclusion of a main story quest line at this stage in development can be forgiven but it’s clear that without that focusing element there’s only so many adventures you can take on where you hunt some crabs or find someone’s lost mug.
Inventory management needs to be seamless in today’s RPG world and although it’s fairly simple, Swords n Magic & Stuff falls quite short of the mark at this point in its development. Firstly the amount a player can carry is quite low and the continual, monotonous trek back to a shop or storage bank gets tedious fast. Secondly, auto management in the inventory seems hit and miss. Collect three mushrooms and then find a stack in your inventory, if you then collect mushrooms from storage the inventory drops them in a different slot instead of auto-stacking them.
The island’s economy seems a little skewed and leaves players grinding in the first few hours leaving a feeling that progression is a chore. Quests reward very little cash initially and basic equipment like an Axe or a Pickaxe costs enough that you would need to complete 20 quests before you have enough to purchase them. Although some items continually respawn and can be sold repeatedly, the 17th run for mushrooms starts to feel pretty laborious.
It’s unfair to judge Swords n Magic n Stuff in its current state, the basics are there but many items and mechanics are just not finished or implemented yet. The passion that’s gone into it at this stage suggests it’s one to keep an eye on and early investors are likely to see dividends as it matures to the full release
Swords n Magic & Stuff is a friendly foray into action RPG territory that although challenging at times never really penalizes the player. Those who can work through the challenges of inventory management will find a plethora of likeable mechanics that are continually being supplemented and improved by the developer. The pick up and play / drop in drop out multiplayer components will only serve to strengthen the offering but only if the main quest line can be bolstered to keep players hooked after the first few hours.
Swords n Magic & Stuff is out now in Early access on PC via Steam.