Title: Swords n Magic and Stuff
Developer: Kindred Games
Publisher: Kindred Games
Genre: Third-Person RPG
Available on: PC
Version Tested: PC
Official Site: https://www.playswordsandmagic.com/
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Where to Buy: Steam Store
When looking at games, their beauty does often draw me to them. Who doesn’t love seeing a lot of good setpieces now and then? At the same time, I’m willing to forgive poor graphics for some really solid gameplay. There’s a reason I’ve spent a few hours in Unturned, and it definitely isn’t for its graphical fidelity. I’m glad I’m willing though because I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy games like it if I didn’t. That’s what I took interest in Swords n Magic and Stuff, an RPG in Early Access that promises a lot despite its rather lackluster appearance. While it’s only in its early access phase right now, what it offers falls short of nearly everything it promises.
Swords n Magic and Stuff’s Lackluster Exterior
Let’s start with the art though. As you’ve likely guessed at this point, it doesn’t look all that appealing. I wouldn’t blame you if you thought you were looking at Roblox map if I’m being honest. It almost feels like it’s been ripped straight out of it, with very basic colors and minimalistic shading. There aren’t even really setpieces, with the distance and rocks being poorly rendered, either looking like a flat color or a blurry mess. While I understand there isn’t much to work with here, there should at least be some intriguing locations to explore. In my time exploring though, the game has none of that.
The same sadly has to be said of Swords n Magic and Stuff’s sound design. Where many games have that satisfying hit sound from swords and hammers, the most you get out of the game is a soft thud. You don’t really feel satisfied when you hit an enemy, it just becomes another hit to only wait a moment for your cooldown to end. Nothing about the sound design appeals really in fact. There are maybe two or three songs throughout the whole experience, and that’s it.
An Abysmal Interior
Then there’s of course the gameplay, which boils down to a monotonous slog. The first island of Swords n Magic and Stuff is well done, teaching you about the various mechanics and keybindings. After that though, you’re up to your own devices. You’ll go to different towns, do random quests, collect resources, maybe explore a small cave, and, well, that’s it. There isn’t a whole lot more to it. No story, no main quests, no cutscenes or intriguing plot to follow. You just do what would normally amount to side content in any other RPG.
It doesn’t help that much of this lacks any substance. Nearly every side quest excluding the odd one here and there boils down to go here, talk to these people, maybe kill one or two basic mobs, and get a few coins. There’s nothing exciting about any of it in Swords n Magic and Stuff, it all just feels so boring. I don’t think at any point beyond the first area was I excited because there’s no reason to be. How can you be excited when the next NPC you find is going to ask you to collect 5 boar pelts and return them to him for 10 coins? While I understand it’s Early Access and that there’s bound to be some of this, I’d expect at least something to catch my attention.
Swords n Magic and Stuff’s Incredibly Basic Combat
The combat isn’t doing Swords n Magic and Stuff any favors either. There are various weapons on offer, but all of it just feels the exact same. Whether you’re using a sword, mace, or spear, they all feel the same. The only difference is the cooldown timer between each hit. Not even ranged is fun, with the “Magic” in the title amounting to a single staff that can throw fireballs. That’s not even mentioning the fact that it feels just like firing a bow or slingshot.
If anything, I’m just amazed. This doesn’t amount to anything close to an early access build. This is simply a proof of concept build, showcasing an RPG’s basic parts and that’s it. None of what Swords n Magic and Stuff promises on its Steam page comes close to fruition. The backstory? Basically non-existent in the game’s context. The “large, densely populated open-world“? Can be run a circle around in about five minutes. Being whoever you want to be? Under the basic limits the game has. I could go on for ages here.
It is at least worth noting that they got something right in the form of options. Swords n Magic and Stuff features an in-depth options menu, with various sliders and options for graphics and audio. If you want a specific thing changed, you’ll likely find it there. While I would’ve liked to see some more accessibility in the form of colorblind options and things of the sort, I’m happy they at least got that right.
Verdict: Swords n Magic and Stuff promises a lot from the get-go, but ultimately delivers on none of it. The poor audio and visual quality could be forgiven, but there’s no exciting gameplay to make up for it. Most of your adventures will be spent either grinding or doing monotonous quests for the people of the island. Even the combat is really basic, offering nothing more than a simple system that involves no real skill. Given there are free RPGs out there that offer something better like Unturned, I simply can’t recommend you put $20 into Swords n Magic and Stuff. I have my doubts Early Access will change a lot of the game’s woes.