Stones Keeperby Aethyna Sep 21, 2022 | 1 Votes | 24 Played | 0 Reviews 7 rate These are dangerous times, and the new leader of the human faction, the Order of the Screaming Griffin, has ordered the construction of a flying castle, allowing them to escape the dangers on the ground and to find artifacts that they believe will help keep their people safe. Between hostile enemies and angry elementals, will they be able to make it? Play Now Similar Games Played
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Stones Keeper is a turn-based strategy game that’s set in a medieval fantasy world where the continent, Gemma, is split between humans, elves, orcs, and the undead. These are dangerous times, and the new leader of the human faction, the Order of the Screaming Griffin, has ordered the construction of a flying castle, allowing them to escape the dangers on the ground and to find artifacts that they believe will help keep their people safe. Between hostile enemies and angry elementals, will they be able to make it?
The world you play in is created by supreme beings known as Architects of Worlds, a.k.a. the Creators. There are many worlds and they all serve as energy generators for the Creators. Each of the worlds created has a World Forge that is used to create its inhabitants. The energy generator of the planet then drew the energy from these inhabitants.
Exposition aside, know that the main game takes place on a continent called Gemma on one of these planets. The continent is split into 4 race-based factions, namely the humans, elves, orcs, and the undead.
The humans are represented by the Order of the Screaming Griffin, a religion-based kingdom that had recently lost its king. Thankfully, the old king has an adult daughter, Elizabeth, who then assumes the throne.
In this game, you follow her story as she completes the flying castle that her father initially commissioned as an ark to save their people as the other factions slowly encroach into their territory and raze their settlements. With the floating castle as well, she will be able to fulfill the Order’s goal of finding various artifacts hidden in the ancient ruins across the continent that can strengthen the Order and its people.
As interesting as the story may be, the game is marred with poorly translated (I assume) texts that do take away the charm of the story. It can sometimes be hard to really understand what’s going on.
Stones Keeper comes with several game modes, including Campaign, Skirmish, and Multiplayer. Skirmish is fairly self-explanatory. You can play against the AI or another player locally (up to 3 players) on a map of your choice (out of 11 available). For campaign, you can choose between two difficulty levels, namely Novice and Legend of Gemma before you start.
The game has two gameplay phrases, both of which are turn-based. There’s the main map where you can decide where to send your army to. You have limited action points per turn and once your turn is up, the opposing side will then be able to move their units to various locations too. It’s very similar to the game, For the King, in a way.
Most locations on the map will initiate combat once clicked. Combat here is also turn-based. Every unit here has a limited number of movement points, depending on their stats, and they also have 2 action points that they can then use to cast spells or an item like a potion (though, note that inventory isn’t shared and that you can’t use a potion on another unit), or to perform a physical attack, be it ranged or melee. Some unit types even have special perks, like Shield Block, that they can use without any costs, but they come with cooldowns so you can’t spam them.
You can use an action point to change the posture of your unit too. You see, characters take up a certain number of boxes on the grid, but they aren’t all squares. Sometimes, like in the case of the Ranger, he takes up only two boxes which makes him a “rectangle”. In this case, you can swap his posture from facing forward to facing sideways or vice versa. However, since it doesn’t seem like where your unit is facing matters here, it’s only useful when you’re trying to squeeze the character through narrow gaps.
The strategy aspect here, however, is a bit underwhelming for a fan of turn-based strategy games. Yes, the game does have some interesting ideas such as using bombs to take down destructible barriers of all kinds since the line of sight, in addition to the range of the attack, applies here. There’s no cover or synergy system here, and although you can position your units behind objects to prevent enemies from directly targeting them, this doesn’t work as enemies can move quite a bit during their turn and can just easily flank you. So, most of the time, the fights here just boil down to who can deal the most damage within the fewest number of turns.
There’s also a problem with the barriers since everything from small fences to tall walls can block your sight. Even your allies and enemies can block your sight too. It can be quite challenging to find the right position to attack, especially for ranged units and on a more “populated” battlefield.
Of course, the game does get more challenging later on with enemies having unique abilities that spice things up a little. It also throws you a curveball now and then, by asking you to complete specific missions with some fairly restrictive conditions, such as the “capture the banshee” mission or the escort mission. These missions pose quite a challenge as they have some specific parameters that you'll need to adhere to, like not having your or the enemy's units block the path of the automatically moving cart during the escort mission. Not doing so results in a failed mission, requiring a replay.
Some missions come with a “side objective” as well, and if you’re lucky, a loot chest may spawn that you can open to get some extra loot, which ranges from materials to craft potions to even entire bottles of potions that you can use.
Besides locations that will trigger combat, there are also other points-of-interest that are worth visiting, such as ancient altars that you can then research. On the main map is also where you get to upgrade your units by investing skill points, leveling up, and unlocking new abilities or spells. The progression here is fairly linear since you can only unlock 1 ability per level so there isn’t much choice for developing specific builds.
Eventually, you’ll get your flying castle which you can upgrade by unlocking new buildings, such as the Alchemist's shop where you can buy helpful potions. You can also bring new units to the battlefield by recruiting them via the barracks.
The game supports co-op whether via LAN or via Steam’s Remote Play Together. You can also challenge your friends (up to 3 players) to a multiplayer fight in the game’s Skirmish mode. You’ve got 11 maps to choose from so there’s enough variety to keep things going for a while.
If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, that’s the fact that Stones Keeper has some amazing, stylized hand-drawn visuals. Everything from the battlefield to the map, to even the characters are very well-drawn.
The range of soundtracks here is also very spot on. Really immerse you in the atmosphere, be it during a fight or while browsing the main map. It’s interesting to note that the developers give credit to the composer by having the details of the music as well as the name of the composer scroll across the screen at the top. The characters also say some lines when you use them to attack, a bit like the units in the old RTS games.
All in all, Stones Keeper is a competent, indie turn-based strategy game and a solid first try for its developers when it comes to developing a full-fledged PC game, which is very different from developing a mobile title even if both games generally fall within the same genre. However, some polishing is needed, especially the text, to make the story more understandable and hence, improving the game, overall.