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Review: Operencia: The Stolen Sun is a Polished, Gorgeous Dungeon Crawl

Screenshot: Operencia: The Stolen Sun

Okay, I have a serious problem. This week is just packed with great releases. Doom: Eternal has been collecting dust as I spend time in Animal Crossing New Horizons, and Half-Life: Alyx. I suppose that’s a good thing, especially with these strange and stressful times. Another great game I’ve been spending some quality time with is Operencia: The Stolen Sun. Billed to me as a fantasy roleplaying game with Hungarian mythology as inspiration, I was immediately intrigued: I’m ethnically Hungarian, but I had no idea there was a whole mythos I’m missing out on.

Screenshot: Operencia: The Stolen Sun

The world of Operencia is one that looks familiar to anyone who has played a sword and sorcery roleplaying game. Fantastical creatures, magic, and (of course) skeletons that mean you harm. The story starts with your chosen character class following a vision to misadventure, leading you on a quest to retrieve the stolen sun, or otherwise undo the perpetual state of darkness Operencia has been left in–all pretty standard call to adventure stuff. Along the way you’ll assemble an ever growing party of adventurers that you can switch between.

Screenshot: Operencia: The Stolen Sun

Operencia is a first-person dungeon crawler, with gameplay that harkens back to earlier “blobber” type roleplaying dungeon crawlers—and something we’ve seen recently, with Conglomerate 451 and Legends of Grimrock. You can have up to four active party members, but you all share the same perspective. When you run into a combat encounter, icons will tell you turn order (based on initiative) and your characters can attack, buff, debuff, heal, use items, etc.–pretty standard stuff.

Where Operencia really shines is its presentation and production value. Areas are wondrous and detailed, and there’s a fine balance between old school and modern sensibilities.  The characters are all wonderful, and the voice acting is mostly top-notch. I absolutely love the banter between the characters—which they constantly do, with comments that usually reflect your decisions, or other circumstances.

Screenshot: Operencia: The Stolen Sun

As you would expect in a dungeon crawler, your interactions aren’t all about combat. There are plenty of enemies to fight, but sometimes you’ll have to use your brain to clear obstacles, or otherwise solve puzzles to progress. There is a fair amount of key locating required, and exploration is a must. But as I mentioned earlier, Operencia is gorgeous, and running around its various dungeons is a treat—if you’re used to the tile-based nature of dungeons crawlers that is. And calling these areas dungeons is a little misleading, as there are some pretty impressive outdoor environments—but there are also a fair number of dark passageways.

Screenshot: Operencia: The Stolen Sun

Combat in Operencia can be challenging, and the enemy encounters are usually interesting. Enemies often have weaknesses, and usually have a resistance or immunity to account for. Your own party can be set up with a tank, damage dealers, and healers—and often the enemies will have their own combination of the same. Boss battles can be interesting, but are usually more of the same as enemy encounters, with added health and damage numbers—and usually with some sort of additional immunity. Fighting is also visually impressive, with spells and attacks providing enough visual  variety to be interesting.

While the combat is fun, it’s usually fun to get some pretty cool stuff out of it. Alas, loot in Operencia is mostly just ho-hum. There are the usual upgrades, and I enjoyed searching for chests—but there was nothing that made me excited, or think “wow, I’ve gotta try that out.”

Screenshot: Operencia: The Stolen Sun

The character classes seem similarly uninspired. The starting classes are the usual three strength, dexterity or intelligence based options. The abilities each employs are interesting, but again, nothing you probably haven’t seen before. It’s too bad there wasn’t more done to make the character classes a little more interesting.

Operencia is making its way to consoles and Steam for the first time since its exclusive release on the Epic Game store. It arrives on these new platforms with balance changes, and a new extra hard mode for those wanting an additional challenge.

Screenshot: Operencia: The Stolen Sun

Operencia: The Stolen Sun is a refreshing take on the genre. Its Eastern European leanings don’t really create a world that we haven’t seen before, but it’s so beautifully rendered, it’s a joy to run around in and explore. The combat is fun, and satisfying, but even exploration doesn’t often yield loot that is too exciting. And sadly, despite its original setting, it falls into many roleplaying game tropes.

Originally an Epic Store Exclusive, Operencia is finally making its way to Steam as well as PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch on March 31st

 

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