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Another try at blending RTS with RPG - will it work this time?

Another blend of genres

Stranger is a new title from Fireglow Games for the PC. The game is a RPG blended with RTS elements set in a fantasy world with over 100 different monsters to fight. Boasting 30 hours of game play, you can expect a lot of action packed battles. But will this game breathe new life in both the RPG and RTS genre?

You play one of the three available heroes: a warrior, a 'battle-necromancer' and a 'spymaster gone mage'. Each character is able to handle both weapons and magic and it is mostly the mix between these two skills along with their special abilities that will affect how you will play the game.

This title has been in development for quite some time, dating back to early 2006. To tell the truth, this is the first time I've heard of this game, as it is nearing the release. Considering the time it has been in production, there is actually little media available, as well as little being known about the actual game, apart from what the trailers say the game has to offer – and naturally the two public demos that you can try.

Stranger can be played in both single player and multiplayer-mode. Single player offers a campaign-like story to go through, whereas the multiplayer focuses on battling against friends online in free-for-alls or team matches. With up to 8 players in any one game you can try your strength against your friends in a variety of locations; from deserts to ancient fortresses to lakes overflowing with lava pits.

Graphics and sounds

I’m a big fan of both the RPG and RTS genre, but nothing about this game really drew my attention; nothing made it stand out. The basics of the game are very simple. Learning how to equip weapons, how to fight, destroy and repair useful buildings, it all feels like second nature to you if you have played RTS games before. That said, the game leans heavier towards its RPG side than its RTS side. If you would take Diablo and add a couple of computer controlled allies as your entourage, it would look a lot like Stranger.

The game is colorful and relies heavily on all sorts of bright and cheery spell effects. Once in a while the screen can get quite crowded with allies and foes tripping over each other, trying to put an end to each others existence. That doesn't mean you should expect huge battles however. The crowdedness comes mostly from arms, legs and weaponry flailing about than from the number of characters. I am not certain what the maximum number is but I doubt it will be any higher than thirty in total. The graphics aren’t the greatest, but turning everything to max, it doesn’t look too bad either. This does mean that the game looks good even on an older rig. You can keep your wallet closed for playing this one, you are not likely to need any hardware upgrades.

The sound manages to blend in with the game’s theme quite well, but is hardly noticeable during play. The clang of hammers used to repair weapons and armor, the sounds of combat and the other few sound effects that did get through to me, all sounded crisp and realistic.

Mixed feelings

With so little media attention for this game, it makes you wonder whether it will get noticed once released. But with what I’ve seen, it will have a good chance of making the cut in the RTS genre. It can be hoped that the possible upcoming demos will provide more insight into the RPG elements of the game, as they were scantly in evidence in the present material. I will certainly be on the lookout for more information on the game, but I'd need to see and play a more stable version of a final demo before I am ready to buy it.