D&D-inspired roguelike Soulblight is all about role-playing

Polish developer My Next Games hates to see players obsess over grinding experience in RPGs. In lieu of bigger numbers, they reckon the genre could use a shot of good old-fashioned role-playing, and they intend to give it one with Soulblight, a top-down roguelike that's fundamentally about writing and playing a character. It's currently on Kickstarter, with My Next Games asking for $US11,729 to bring it to life. At the time of writing, its campaign has earned $US3,311 and will run for another 30 days. 

"We look back with nostalgia at our pen and paper RPG memories," My Next Games says. "Back then, gaining XP and leveling up was only part of the fun. The thing we were most excited about was actual role-playing. For a brief moment becoming a character with all their merits but also with all their flaws. Sometimes their shortcomings would stand in the way of solving a quest at hand making the game more difficult. But because of that the characters felt more alive and that’s why we wouldn’t have it any other way."

To translate role-playing into roguelike form, Soulblight uses a 'tainting' mechanic. When you clear a level of the Sanctuary, the procedurally generated main dungeon, you select a new 'taint' for your character. It might sound negative, but taints aren't strictly limitations or debuffs. My Next Games describes them as "a new way of gaining power" based on how closely your actions accentuate and mirror your character's taints.

So, if you have the taint 'greed,' which increases your strength based on how much money you have, you'd probably watch your spending more closely. Likewise, if you had the 'craving' taint, which turns the negative effects alcohol normally provides into positive buffs, you'd start drinking with the best of them. In a nutshell, taints are like stat buffs nested in short stories and play styles rather than skill trees.

A detailed survival system complements Soulblight's tainted role-playing. You have to apply bandages (clean ones, mind, lest your wounds fester), scavenge food and drink, and manage your encumbrance as you navigate the Sanctuary. Combat is similarly particular, with a focus on "stamina management, distance control, grip attack or blocking and parrying." You can also insta-kill enemies while stealthed or trick them into damaging each other, which is always fun. 

My Next Games have not yet confirmed Soulblight's release date, but judging from its Kickstarter reward dates, we can expect it to come to Steam early 2018.