In the last game we reviewed, we played a Sci-Fi idle/management game called SpaceAlpha.net. Today, we're reviewing something pretty opposite – an active, fantasy MMO called Planes of Tlessa. This was recently released at time of writing, so the game has probably changed significantly if you're reading this in the future. As such, any balance issues that are planned to be fixed will be omitted from the review.
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As always, this game review contains spoilers for in-game content.
Planes of Tlessa is a non-idle fantasy combat crafter game where you can roam around a global map, create a kingdom and wage war with other players. On the surface this may seem a bit tired, but the particular concoction of this has a fairly fresh feel. All players get to do both combat and crafting, so the specialization lies with what you do the crafting in. You can also do enchanting, which has its own level entirely.
One thing about Planes of Tlessa is that it's a real grind. Purposefully. Leveling from 1 - 10 (out of 999) takes about a week of active play. If playing an active game that is a grind isn't your cup of tea, I would probably steer away. But for those that do like that, this will definitely scratch that itch.
Since the game is non-idle, most actions have a 10 second cooldown timer before you can do anything again.
Control, UI, Intuitiveness
This was pretty hard to judge overall, since the game is still so new. There's no logo yet, the UI is pretty barebones, and there are some bugs here and there that sort of get in the way. One of the major inhibitors I see (which may as well be fixed soon) is that the main game screen doesn't remember your monster or item selections. So if you want to do anything else in the game, you have to open those in a separate tab. It's certainly doable, and I have no doubt that it will be fixed in the future, but at time of writing that's a big barrier to usability.
The item screens are really just walls of text, it's very difficult to differentiate between important factors for items. It's literally hard to read. There's 4 big boxes for items, one for the basic info, the base stats, the prefix and another for the suffix. A lot of it is duplicated information that is really far apart on the screen.
The kingdom management screens feel a bit scattered as well, the requirements are only partially shown for upgrading each building on the main menu. Population required is missing, which is a pretty main part of your upgrade path. Attacking another kingdom is even more confusing and even disjointed.
Traveling around the map is pretty intuitive, and the menus also have a really cool style. So big win there!
Overall, UI is probably PoT's main weakness. The developer is aware of these problems and will likely fix them as time goes on.
Alright, the meat and potatoes of the game. The core mechanic here is pretty simple; fight things, get better stuff, fight bigger things. It's done in a fairly intuitive manner, and dying is absolutely a thing, though it seems to only cost you 20 seconds of revive time. From where I'm at, I don't see any special sauce here. A small departure from the normal formula is that you also get spells that can heal you or deal more damage, so you basically get 4 weapon slots instead of 2 for each hand. Every time you attack, there is a 10 second timer until the next time you can fight again.
You also have crafting, from which you can choose what item type you want to craft. Anything you can wear, you can also craft, which is pretty cool. I believe the idea is that end-game gear should come from the items that players can craft. And it being an active-only grind game, that is some serious time commitment to get there.
The Kingdoms you can create on the map are a nice addition to the repetitive grinding of combat/crafting. Anyone can make a kingdom on a blank spot on the map. You can create more kingdoms, but after the first it will cost a decent fee to create. Once you do create one, you can upgrade various buildings to give you more defense or production at that location. In addition to buildings, there are military units that can be recruited and used to attack other players. The limiting factor here, which is a bonus in my opinion, is that you have to be physically in your kingdom in order to administer it. Travelling around the map from kingdom to kingdom to upgrade everything in turn really breaks up the monotony and makes for a fun loop.
There's a map you can move around on featuring a couple of interesting locations that allows you to do adventures, which are 10-30 minute quests that net some nice equipment, and allow you to visit the player market. But you must be physically on one of those places in order to be able to visit it, just like with kingdoms. It's best if you park your kingdoms around these points of interest.
It's worth noting that there are references to events happening on 'The Surface Plane', so I can guess that there will be some huge recursive-esque changes in the mechanics of the game in time.
I find myself going back to play PoT so I can keep the grind up and keep upgrading my kingdom. Moving across the map from place to place so I can do my daily duties is enough to keep me occupied while doing other things. I don't think I could concentrate on it full-time, but it's a great companion to something that you will concentrate on. Being still so new, I think there are some big features that are planned, so I gave this a slightly higher score otherwise.
Catch-up mechanic; To my knowledge, there is no catch-up mechanics here. Since it's an active game, progressing largely relies on your ability to play more. However there isn't a massive competitive edge here quite yet, so being behind the curve isn't going to crush your experience. However if competition becomes a large part of the gameplay, there will have to be some sort of catch up implemented to not chase off new players.
Premium currency; There isn't any! In fact, the developer is so against paid currency that trying to buy anything in the game with IRL money is strictly forbidden.
Launch reset; It has already launched, so there is no reset!
The community is still pretty darn small, it's hard to determine how good or bad it is yet. The players that are there are generally supportive and positive, so that's a definite good seed that can be fostered into a really strong and happy group of players.
Honestly, my main cup of tea isn't non-idle games. But I still found this game quite fun - the migration from place to place breaks up the repetition that you'll find in most PBBGs mixed with a really good feeling when you do finally level up (since they're so sparse) is awesome! The bones here are fantastic, and I can absolutely see this really start to take off in the near future.