by Derk Bil
previewed on PC
Norse folklore and mythology are treasure troves when it comes to drawing inspiration for telling great stories, and that’s exactly what Paradox Development Studio has set out to do with Runemaster. We sat down with Boel Bermann and Sara Wendel-Örtqvist at Gamescom to learn more about their upcoming RPG, one in which Paradox’s strategy roots are tangibly present in the form of tactical battles.
Runemaster takes place in an age where gods like Freya, Thor, Odin and the looming threat of Ragnarök are still part of people’s everyday lives. There are signs that Ragnarök is coming and it soon becomes apparent that you will have a pivotal role to play. The twist is that you can either work to prevent it from happening or strive to quicken its arrival. As apocalyptic events go, Ragnarök may sound like something evil, but that is not necessarily so. And if that is confusing, then wait until I tell you that it won’t always be clear whether you are working towards your intended goal. Norse gods such as Odin and trickster Loki will be scheming to make you - think - that you are working in one direction, but you may actually be going in the opposite way.
Before we start adventuring…
Diving into the game, we created a character choosing from six different races and four different starting worlds. Some of these worlds are shared between races and Humans start at Midgard together with Trolls for instance. Each of the six different races has their own style of dialogue, written by individual authors to further emphasize the cultural differences between them.
We picked Humans, giving us a choice to play either a ranged class called Skald, or a melee focused Berserker. A third class, the Runemaster, only becomes available later in the game. The Berserker Mr. Floppy was born and we were met with a wealth of stats representing attack strength, resistances to various damage types and more. The screen also revealed a personality trait overview that is informative, yet cannot be affected during character creation.
Once done, our protagonist was thrown into a procedurally generated world where not only the world map is randomized, but also the way the saga will unfold. Only a handful of key points are the same in every playthrough to ensure a coherent story.
We encountered a woman who asked for a small amount of gold. In return she would reveal more about the protagonists character. This is used to determine how selfish, bold or prudent, vindictive or righteous you are and which traits you will acquire. We learned that Mr. Floppy is an honest Berserker, leaning towards being extravagant and intimidating and bold only in moderation.
All this is not just informational. The given traits unlock different quests and rewards that can be picked up throughout the game. Your actions will determine which additional traits will be tacked on as you play, making each playthrough of Runemaster different from the previous.