It's been nearly two years since we last mentioned the succulently moody indie RPG The Iron Oath, when it successfully doubled its relatively modest $45,000 Kickstarter goal and released its first reveal trailer. Now the game has launched into Steam Early Access, and I have to say it's looking (and sounding) rather excellent.
Iron Oath puts you in command of a band of mercenaries roaming a dark-fantasy world in pursuit of plunder and adventure. Something that stood out to me in the description is that "the fate of your mercenary company rests on your decisions. Lead your band as they age, retire, and die." No mention of saving the Kingdom, fulfilling your destiny, or becoming Iron Lord—it's kind of refreshing for a fantasy RPG to be so grounded in its premise.
There is a campaign (which isn't yet finished), but the focus seems to be very much about leading your outfit and building their reputation over the ages, with your decisions and tactical prowess in combat having big repercussions for who lives, who dies, and how your story progresses. The devs over at Curious Panda Games seem to have some talented writers onboard too, because some of the dialogue and written narration I saw in the livestream (which you can watch on the Steam page) looks wonderful.
Iron Oath looks to have a deep levelling system, with over 200 abilities upgrades and over 60 traits available for your characters inviting all kinds of build experimentation. At this point there are four regions to traverse via the overworld map, with future updates promising features like sea travel, a Company Council and a new region to explore.
The hex-based combat is clearly a big part of the game, but beyond the healthy explosions of gore it's hard to gauge from the footage how exactly that works and feels. The early Steam reviews and decent player counts suggest that this elegant RPG could be one to keep an eye on. The game will set you back £15/$20 on Steam.