You need to play the most underrated RPG of 2021 ASAP
This near-perfect RPG celebrates storytelling without sacrificing action.
There were a LOT of video games released in 2021. Approximately 3,000 new titles launched just on Steam this year. Let’s assume you’re hardcore PCMR, and give a conservative five hours per game, that’s 15,000 hours you’d need to find to play everything.
On one platform. And you’d need to bend space-time to do it, too, since that's roughly twice the number of hours that exist in a year. The point is, you’re gonna miss stuff. And that’s OK! That’s why you read Inverse. We like to tell you what you shouldn’t miss.
What you shouldn’t miss this year (but probably did) is Wildermyth. This highly-rated RPG from Worldwalker Games combines tactical, turn-based gameplay with procedural storytelling to deliver the sensation of an epic DnD campaign without the whole organizing-unreliable-introverts side of things. Like all the best RPGs, Wildermyth has soul.
If you’re expecting a grandiose tale on par with The Banner Saga or Dragon Age, think again. The structure of Wildermyth is rooted in myths, and any good myth takes time. The “story” you play through as your various characters is divided into chapters but these can span decades. Heroes will retire, have children, become business owners, all manner of things that you’d expect from anyone living out life in a feudal-esque fantasy world. You can add retired heroes to a legends roster that draws them into other stories you create in subsequent playthroughs. It’s so rewarding to see a beloved hero make a triumphant return.
What really stands out in Wildermyth is the branching narrative structure that results from the many procedurally generated encounters. The writing here is sublime. Encounters cover a range of potential tales that run from traditional law and order hero stuff to odd curses from mystical roadside travelers to intra-party gossip.
Not only does this system create complex relationships among your characters, but also your relationship with them, too. Sometimes you have to choose life or death, and saying goodbye to a beloved hero can be brutal. There are also enough surprises that a seemingly banal choice can have unintended consequences. It’s astounding how much variety there is in this narrative mechanic and that alone could keep you playing again and again.
This is coupled with a rock-solid RPG foundation. Characters have classes and traits as you’d expect, and those traits (poet, hothead, leader, etc) weigh heavily on the outcomes of your story choices and relationships. You also have an impact on the world as well. You’ll be able to develop upgrades in the various villages you visit, adding a resource management element that in itself can be addicting.
The combat is XCOM-flavored with a two-move, turn-based system that is well-balanced enough to please tactical fans but accessible enough that anyone can get the hang of it. The standout combat feature is the mystic’s infusion ability which brings inanimate objects to life to aid you in battle. If you ever wondered what it’d be like to fight a bookshelf, Wildermyth has the answer.