Shores Unknown is an third person action-RPG following characters Morton and Ren as they investigate a mystery — a deadly fog known as “the Murk” surrounds their island, and nothing has ever passed through it. However, they learn that something is coming and they’re soon caught up in an adventure far greater than they thought possible.

Players will explore the world, visit towns and talk with the land’s inhabitants. After their first job gone awry, Morton and Ren are surviving between the ever-lurking Murk off the shores and the southern Empire who is at perpetual war. Along the way they will encounter allies that will help them deal with the dangers that the Murk is hiding, and defend from the Empire’s inquisitors who want them dead.

There’s a dialogue tree system that allows the player to flesh out their version of Morton and how NPCs will react to the player. Even in this small demo, there were many points where the story changed significantly, and not in ways that would be obvious at that moment.

In one segment, the party was talking outside of combat, trying to distract a bandit leader while my rogue got into position for a strike. In one playthrough, I was able to keep the bandit leader distracted long enough for them to get a killing blow in before combat even started. Playing again and making a different choice started the fight prematurely, letting the target escape as he left his other bandits behind to deal with me.

Shores Unknown also brings that same careful thought to their combat, described as as “gridless, tactical and turn-based”. Players can see how each action will play out before their party members will attack, and can plan their moves accordingly. However, while combat is turn based, it feels closer to an action-RPG because the characters move around like they were actually in combat, even while deciding which moves to use. Characters circle each other, move back and forth, and make the battles really alive. 

Also, where Shores Unknown really surprised me was in how characters evolve mid-battle after gaining EXP. If a character learns a new move, they will immediately use that move. This gives a bit of pop and surprise with each combat, never knowing if your character will do the move you want, or an even more powerful move for free.

I’m excited for the full release of Shores Unknown to see what other secrets the game has in store. For those who enjoy RPGs, be sure to keep an eye out as it evolves through the Early Access process. The first chapter and first half of chapter two is currently available on Steam now, with a full release set for early 2022.

Eugene Sax
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