First look at The Waylanders, a time travel RPG inspired by Dragon Age: Origins

The Waylanders is a fantasy RPG from Spanish developer Gato Salvaje, and former Dragon Age creative director Mike Laidlaw is among the staff working on it. Above, you can get a first look at the game in pre-alpha form, narrated by Laidlaw.

The Waylanders has real-time combat with a tactical pause option, and it's inspired by a bunch of RPG favourites, like Neverwinter Nights 2 and Dragon Age: Origins, which you'll probably note from the video. You can play it from a top-down view, or move the camera to third-person, and 12 changeable party formations let you experiment with combat tactics in the game. You'll be able to romance characters, too. In an interesting twist, however, you'll be able to time travel between two different periods. 

You'll alternate between Celtic Brigantia, and the Middle Ages where Christianity has "supplanted" a lot of Celtic history. "The Waylanders takes inspiration from the Celtic Mythological Cycle, a rich tapestry that deals with Ireland but also the Celtic region of Brigantia on the north coast of modern-day Spain," the studio explains. Your player character is removed from the cycle of life and death, which allows you to swap between the two periods using magic. 

The game's title comes from the Way of St James, or Camino de Santiago, a pilgrim's path that runs across Northern Spain. "These are the people protecting the Way, and protecting the legends, and protecting the spirit of the Way in the game." 

"The Celtics believe in reincarnation, so what we are doing, we choose the companions in the Celtic period," says Gato Salvaje's Fernando Prieto. "Then when our main character travels to the Middle Ages, we will have to look for our companions and wake them up. They will be reincarnated in other people, and we'll have to wake them up, but as they are in the middle ages. Only the main character will be able to time travel—our companions won't. [The companions] can be completely different people, though from the moment you wake them up, they'll remember what they did in the Celtic period. But they could be an important warrior in the Celtic period, then a housekeeper in the Middle Ages. That can be very funny, and very useful for the narrative."

You'll complete quests that straddle the two eras, and your party make-up will be different in each period. "You need to solve problems in the Celtic period to advance in missions in the Middle Ages as well. You'll need to be jumping from one period to another. Your companions will be the same, but with different characteristics in both periods." There are mirroring qualities to the two timeframes, like monsters on the loose and usurper kings, and uncovering their connection will be a big part of the story. 

Form up

There are six basic classes in The Waylanders, then 30 advanced ones on top of that. Each basic class comes with two possible formations you can use for your party. In the video above, you see the party using a phalanx formation—this system is designed to give you tactical flexibility depending on the enemy in question, and so players can easily experiment with it.

"It's not just a way to form the party to move around the scenario, but we want to give deeper tactical options to the game," Prieto says. "So you can use different types of formations in every [instance] of combat, so you have multiple options to finish your mission, faster or not-so-fast. Those tactical options are always available to the players. So you can use formations for different purposes. You can use a phalanx, for example, or an orb, or an arrow formation. We'll have up to twelve different ones in the game. We will offer very deep tactical gameplay. It will be very easy to change from formations to the normal party, so you can try different options." 

This is a very different project for the A Coruña-based studio, which has scaled up from just eight people to 40 in making The Waylanders, including new staff who previously worked at Spanish animation companies. "This project began two years ago," Prieto explains. "We are a small company from Spain, and after a lot of analysis, we realised we had to grow and make bigger projects to really survive in the gaming industry. And we began to build this project...we began the pre-production at the end of 2017, and that's the moment when we [approached] Mike to get involved in the project as well."

The Waylanders is targeting an early 2020 release. 

Samuel Roberts
Former PC Gamer EIC Samuel has been writing about games since he was 18. He's a generalist, because life is surely about playing as many games as possible before you're put in the cold ground.