Regularly shafted by Sanctuary RPG, but still goes back for more

Sanctuary RPG
A cat issue in Sanctuary RPG – Black Edition.

“Play one of the highest-rated games on Steam” boasts the tagline. Play one of the most difficult and demanding games on Steam, I say, with tears on my eyes, because I just lost a character I spent days building-up…

Sanctuary RPG – Black Edition is a strange beast. An ASCII text-based, hardcore, Roguelike RPG that looks like it was crafted in MS-DOS. Everything is controlled by keyboard presses and the game contains all the staples you’d expect from an old-school RPG – random battles, boss fights, tons of weapons, armour and other items, quests, villages, taverns, and so on. It may look and sound outdated on the face of it, but it’s actually a very funny, modern and clever game, because the gameplay is so detailed and good, and because the humour is unique and really makes you smile. Where it shafts you [me] though, is in its level of difficulty. Play in any mode other than ‘Softcore’ and it’s ‘permadeath’ for your characters if they snuff it. Which is often, unless you concentrate very hard. And which makes playing the game when tired, or even slightly distracted, a big risk. One wrong keypress and there goes six hours of work…

I’m trying to forget the number of times I’ve lost a character and screamed (nay, sworn) loudly at the top of my voice: “I’m never playing this [insert venomous expletive] game again!” My keyboard is also feeling it, having been bashed every time this has happened. But I’ve gone back and tried again, because there is something weirdly magical about this game. I don’t know what it is. The excellent battle mechanics (which are detailed and evolve over time), may have something to do with it. Character levelling is fun too. But I often sit at my computer and wonder why I am investing time into a game that actually revels in my misfortune, is mostly random, and which also requires serious play time to make progress (the few achievements available to the player take an awful lot of play to attain).

I guess I’m nothing more than a masochist. Actually, that’s not true, and not being fair to what is a brilliant game – in spite of the fact that Sanctuary RPG looks ridiculous (see the screenshots). The level of detail in this game, and the way that detail slowly expands during play (you can even take over the tavern and start to make some gold from beer sales), would make any RPG fanatic’s heart race with delight. So no wonder Sanctuary RPG is one of the highest-rated games on Steam, though I’d still like to see statistics relating to heart attacks (or sectionings) and this game…

Paul Mallinson

Loves "grabbing". No, that is not a euphemism. "Grabbing" is a term video games magazines used in the 1990s for taking digital screenshots of games for inclusion in their printed articles. Some might call it 'in-game photography' - the art of taking screenshots of what you're playing. Good grabbing requires a good eye, good timing, and good editorial skills. Mallo's Steam Profile

One thought on “Regularly shafted by Sanctuary RPG, but still goes back for more

  • Nov 7, 2016 at 1:20 am

    I never thought I’d enjoy an ASCII game until I went and played the Privateer-inspired Ascii Sector ( a couple of years ago. I still don’t think Sanctuary is probably my cup of tea, but i suppose it wouldn’t to try it.


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