My personal history with roleplaying games begins with me in a small heap in front of the television, tapping away at a controller, grinding my Dragon Warrior to great heights before I even knew what “grinding” meant. It’s a funny thing, when you look back on it: the classic RPGs of the Nintendo era are remembered fondly–some are even hailed as classics. But to revisit them in this age of streamlined gaming experience is to open yourself up to the tedium of “attack, attack, attack, cast Heal, repeat”.  But on the other hand, it brings you back to unforgettable sprite design, the excitement of watching your heroes grow into legends, and the irresistible plink of chiptune music. Thylacine Studios’ Siralim is an experience that brings both sides of the old-school RPG coin to bear in equal measure: both the routine and the reward.

In Siralim you play the role of a young mage who has recently inherited his father’s kingdom. As a young monarch, you must complete quests in various realms, collecting the materials required to protect Siralim. The quests are randomly generated, and as you grow in strength you will gain access to new creatures, levels, and artifacts to assist you as you engage in a neverending struggle to better yourself and your minions.

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And when I say “neverending”, I absolutely mean it. As far as I can tell, there is no end in sight to Siralim. There are dozens of skills that you can invest in, hundreds of monsters to add to your bestiary, and limitless amount of crafting materials to collect. And with its Pokemon-style “monster collection” system and the careful craftsmanship Thylacine applied to the creation of its worlds and denizens, this is the sort of game that will keep many old-school gamers occupied for a long time.

I think the scope of Siralim first made itself clear when I leveled up for the first time. As you battle creatures, your own summoned monsters gain experience alongside of you. When they level up, their stats boost automatically. However, when you level up, you are rewarded with Royalty Points–the points you use to boost any of the countless skills and perks that you have to choose from. If you’d like to focus on yourself, then perhaps invest in higher mana points, or better your chances of fleeing from situations that are over your head. You also have the option of bettering the monsters you lead, or taking advantage of class-specific skills. As a Chaos mage, I took great pleasure in leveling up the Chaos perk called “Sadistic Pleasure”, which increased the damage my beasties would do based on the maximum health of my enemy.

Beyond leveling up yourself and those around you, you’re also investing in your kingdom: researching and building methods for visiting unseen realms, and even hiring on castle staff to gain access to new artifacts and abilities. You will be collecting the copious amounts of materials these additions require within the first ten minutes of gaming, and this in-depth crafting system for everything adds a flair that dulls some of the more tedious, button-mashy qualities that many 8-bit RPGs were known for.

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Unfortunately, that tedium abounds in Siralim. The quests are not terribly unique, and you’ll find yourself repeating them fairly early on. The roguelike-esque, procedurally generated levels each have their own charm and style, and the various monsters are colorful, varied, and wonderfully designed. But that only helps so much when you find yourself repeating the same quests and visiting the same realms over and over again. I will, however, say that the soundtrack is damn impressive. The emotional tone that each musical score brings with it are well composed and just lovely to listen to.

It becomes clear a few hours in that your only goal in Siralim is to better yourself. And that’s a fine goal. But in the long run, it doesn’t feel like enough. There is a passion behind this game’s creation that I can appreciate, and the insertion of new elements like monster collecting and the development of a kingdom certainly add a spice that sets Siralim apart from other retro RPG offerings. I can say without hesitation that there will be plenty of people who will adore pumping dozens of hours into this one. But for me, Siralim got old long before it started to get new.

 

About The Author

Contributor

Phil Keeling is a writer, comedian, gin-drinker, and author of the gaming blog "Notes From The Conquistadork" and YouTube gaming channel "Conquistadork". His favorite beetle is the Bombardier Beetle, which can fire a noxious, explosive spray to ward off predators. His favorite Beatle is George Harrison, who cannot.

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