SanctuaryRPG: Black Edition As We Play

I’ll admit, I’d never heard of SanctuaryRPG: Black Edition or its forerunner SanctuaryRPG Classic when it was passed to me by the overlords here at Expansive Towers for review. So in the words of Mrs PictoPirate’s mother I “did a Google” to see what all the fuss was about.

SanctuaryRPG: Black Edition is described as “a humorous and strategic turn-based dungeon crawling ASCII adventure. Drawing heavy inspiration from both Roguelikes and Japanese RPGs” and the Steam reveiews were overwhelmingly positive:

“The silly cousin of Diablo made with ascii art and a epic soundtrack.” Jhelle.

“Kissed a worm, it kissed me back and gave me an item. 11/10 GOTY” EviLWeviL

“Awesome ASCII art, amazing music, awesome humour, awesome  mechanics, awesome potatoes. Potato/10” Okami

With comments like that, you know you’re in for something totally out of the ordinary. There is a cool video laying out the plot (what there is of one) about a powerful wizard named Cyrus and an evil demon known as the Matron. I’ll be honest, I didn’t follow it all that well, but it had no real impact on my enjoyment of the game, which is weird for an RPG, right?

Anyway let’s see if this trailer can explain it for you:

So I was in and after a surprisingly complex character creation screen I was in. Katja Stonebow (I know cliche but hey it was late) a level 1 Ranger or Wyspera descent. I battled through the first tutorial to learn the ropes and I was away.

The game is fully text based, with a simple prompt menu and one key being used to perform an action. So I crushed a skeleton with my might(ish) axe met the Blacksmith then went off for my first boss battle. IT all seemed to be going so well, 1… attack, 2… link attack, 3… finisher rinse and repeat. What I failed to notice was the enemies lock bar slowly building and there I was moments from victory when he nuked me with a missle and Katja was no more.

That’s right folks this isn’t one of those hand holding RPGs from 2014 this is old school here, like in real life death is perminant and sad. So Katja Stonebow the Second was born but she wouldn’t fall for the same tricks. She battled in the first area for a couple of levels to loot up. After a dozen battles I’d collected some fairly impressive (and varied) loot but I was in the zone and there was that typical just one more gameplay that is so hard to resist. I was on autopilot, I was invincible I was a looting machine, I was dead; what what? Yes I’d not been paying close attention in the rhythm action zone of button bashing and I hadn’t noiced the enemy charge and my wounding, the lesson was hard learned.


IT’s all about the loot in SanctuaryRPG and there is bloody tons of the stuff

Enter Katja Stonebow the Third.This time I paid more attention to the complex battle system combo-chains, special attacks, repositioning, charging, healing, traps and wounds my more considered approach paid off. After a couple of hours I’d killed my first couple of bosses, collected some rather fabulous loot and even started running my own bar. I’d tuinkered with the crafting mini-game rather unsuccessfully I might add and been to the library to boost my Exp then on a side mission I met a secret dragon boss, I choose to fight… I choose poorly. Bye Bye Katja Stonebow the Third, there was real actual shock here. She’d been around long enough I was getting to like her and then just like that she was gone.

It looks a bit mental at first but you'll soon get the hang of it.

It looks a bit mental at first but you’ll soon get the hang of it.

If you’re of a feint heart fear not there is a softcore mode where death loses you not your character but all the on hand experience, gold and results in reduced loot drops. For me after a moments pause and regret the first thing I did was fire up Katja Stonebow the Fourth. SanctuaryRPG is just too much fun not to. Aside from the just one more battle addictiveness there are real moments of comedy in just about every aspect of the game. That is without mentioning the awesome bittunes music by Rafael Langoni Smith which you can pick up for $3 for all 64 track and is worth a listen for anyone. It really does help to flesh out the world and make you feel a part of the action.

Some of the ASCII art is really quite spiffing

Some of the ASCII art is really quite spiffing

What else is there to say? It’s funny, fun and has endless replayability. If you can make it past the first few encounters when the whole thing feels a litle complex and don’t get mad about occasionally being killed pretty much instantly you’ll have a ball in the ASCII world that Black Shell Games built.

The Good Stuff

  • Great writing.
  • Challenging old-school gameplay.
  • Seemingly endless piles of loot.

The Bad Stuff

  • Scary for newcomers.
  • It can be really easy to die.

Final Analysis

SanctuaryRPG: Black Edition is a fun blast from the past with a surprising amount of depth and charm. While the depth of the combat system may be daunting for newcomers to the genre the superb ASCII art and chiptune music and will leave those who miss the ‘old days’ of RPG gaming purring.

Technical Competency – 8/10

Graphical Quality – 8/10

Entertainment value –9/10

Sound quality – 8/10

Overall Quality Grade – 8/10

About the author


PictoPirate hails from the grim north and is only down south temporarily while he waits to win the lottery. He likes to play games and then write about them on his website and others if they will let him. Also he likes badgers, don't ask...
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