MSRP: $6.99 (base) / $15.99 (full) or download the base game free.
Platform: Win, Mac, Linux
When you come across a game with over 1,600 achievements to unlock, it’s pretty safe to assume one of two things. Either the game gives you an achievement every time you press a key or click a mouse button, or there’s a helluva lot of game there.
Tales of Maj’Eyal is a helluva lot of game. I’ve now played for about three hours, and managed to unlock 3 achievements out of 1,629. And I don’t even have the latest expansion. I can only imagine how many achievements that adds.
Tales of Maj’Eyal is a roguelike RPG with a lot of extras. There are three ways to play – exploration, with endless lives; adventure, with a small complement of extra lives that replenish as you level; and roguelike, which is the single-death, no take-backs version of the game. Regardless of which you choose, you are restricted to your most recent save, and in adventure and roguelike, once you’re out of lives, that save gets deleted.
Some of the games races and classes are automatically unlocked when you first load up the game. The remainder have to be unlocked as you play. There are also five difficulty levels (with two locked initially) as well as two unlockable modes. Tales of Maj’Eyal is almost as big on unlocks as it is on achievements.
I decided to go middle of the road on play on normal difficulty and adventure mode. I then tried a handful of different class/race combinations (and failed miserably with most while trying to learn the ropes of the game), and found that Bulwark is probably the most idiot-proof starter class. I recommend starting off with Dwarf for your race, as the racial bonuses pair nicely with the Bulwark.
Halfway through the tutorial, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like it. The controls felt weird and I wasn’t entirely sure what I was supposed to do. There’s no clear differentiation between which quests are completely optional side quests, and which are important to your progression. But by my third post-tutorial character, I was getting it. By my fourth, I was loving it.
At first I wondered what the heck you’d want an auto-explore key for, but now I get it. Clicking and dragging around each level looking for that last bit you haven’t been to is about as fun as it sounds. You want an auto-explore key. It’s keybound to Z by default.
I think the combat systems have the capability of being stellar, but I’m still in the early stages where I beat on things and hope they die before I do. There’s a lot to learn, but right now, it doesn’t feel terribly punishing to be learning.
Since the game is made with an open source engine, there’s an active modding community. On the Steam Workshop you can find everything from cosmetic mods to complete new classes to mods that will let you bypass the unlock system, if you so desire.
I bought Tales of Maj’Eyal without realizing that it was available for free, but I have no regrets. However, I always recommend trying before buying when the option is available. If you enjoy the game, and you enjoy achievements, you’ll be buying it on Steam in no time. You can purchase the expansions with coins rewarded for donations, or you can splurge $16 and get the complete package. That’s less than a penny per achievement people.
I plan on picking up the second expansion in the very near future, both because I think it’ll be just as fun as the rest of the game, and also because I really want to throw some more money at the creator. This has been a labor of love for him for over 17 years, and the love he has for this game really shines through.