Stash – First Look
Turn-based combat in MMORPGs is a bit rare these days, relatively speaking, and when it’s done right it can be an exciting and rewarding change of pace.
Unfortunately, Stash is anything but exciting or rewarding.
Stash is a turn-based, tabletop-style MMORPG that, in theory, should feel a lot like Dungeons and Dragons or Fire Emblem. Aesthetically, the game is almost there. The objects in the environment and the character models have a certain sense of style to them, but it feels incomplete. Couple this with the horrible environmental textures, bad character animations, and placeholder UI elements, and the game becomes downright painful visually. I want to like the attempted style here, but it just doesn’t hold.
This isn’t to say that Stash is all bad. The character creation tools are pretty in-depth; there are a metric ton of character features to adjust to make exactly the character you want. I love that the characters look like Dungeons and Dragons miniatures. This gives the game a tabletop feeling that, if the rest of the game around it were better, would be amazing.
Unfortunately most of the gameplay in this game is boring. You move your character around the world map in squares; getting anywhere significant takes way too long. Once you’re in a dungeon, you move your piece around until you encounter some enemies. Once in combat, you take it in turns to move around the board and swing away at your enemies.
This is where the game intends for you to employ strategy. The game gives you absolutely no reason to. For example, one of the moves you can do is to pin your opponent. You do this by positioning yourself on one side of them while there is a wall or other immoveable object on their opposite side. This reduces their damage output, giving you an advantage. In early levels, this took an average enemy attack for 8 damage down to about 6. Given how big warrior health pools are, I barely even noticed enemies hitting me. You can just run into the middle, stand there, and manually attack each one until they’re dead. That’s all there is to it really.
Your character has several abilities based on their class they can use, but most of them felt pointless. Charge only works if you’re already in striking distance of an enemy. The strength and constitution buff warriors can give made no noticeable difference in defense or offense. Neither did using the brace command. Every battle felt nearly identical. Run forward. Auto-attack. Auto-attack. Change Target. Auto-attack. It was incredibly repetitive.
The dungeon layouts are also bland. In the handful of dungeons I explored, there were no traps or secret passages. There were no treasure chests or valuables to collect. It was just a maze with a few monsters in it, and no apparent or explained method of resetting the dungeons once you’ve cleared all the monsters out. In fact, the game doesn’t explain anything very well. They give you the basic principle of the game in a single window, then tell you to go to their website and read the getting started guide for more information. I understand wanting to let your players learn the game while playing, but there needs to be more to the introduction than what is here.
The game’s other major draw, base building, suffers from similar problems. The game doesn’t explain the system at all, and building/crafting materials are hard to come by in the early going. I did eventually get some materials, but figuring out what to do with them once I had them was more challenging than any fight I had run into in the first four dungeons.
In all honesty, that’s the story of this whole game. It’s a massively boring series of inconveniences. Healing requires you to have food or build a camp with camp supplies. The only way I found to get camp supplies as a new player was buy them with real world currency. You can still buy food to heal with regular money you get from monsters though, so it’s not a complete wash. Everything just feels tedious and there doesn’t ever seem to be a reward or payoff for the work. If you want a turn-based RPG experience you can share with friends, don’t waste your time on Stash. Check out Wakfu instead. It’s got a ton more charm and a well thought-out battle system; it is definitely worth your time.
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