Book of Travels (opens in new tab) is one of the more genuinely original and intriguing games released in 2021. Announced in 2019 as a TMO—tiny multiplayer online game—it's an online game in which you don't have to be the hero. It has some traditional RPG elements, and even battles to take part in, but the focus is on exploration and companionship, with no overarching goal or even a real beginning or end.
It sounds lovely, and it made a strong initial impression. But just a couple of months after its October 2021 release into Early Access (opens in new tab), it has run into trouble: Developer Might and Delight said in an update (opens in new tab) that the launch isn't going as well as it had hoped and that in order to "stay alive," it's had to cut the employee count at the studio from around 35 to just 10 people.
"We have suffered a setback, and as a result the production pace of coming content will be affected. We want to be transparent regarding that," the studio wrote. "However, we also want you to know that the team that remains is determined and hell bent on two things: surviving, and bringing the best possible content to the game. We will do whatever it takes to keep Book of Travels going and continue to bring it and the company forward together with you."
It's a shame to see Book of Travels struggling like this, because it really is a promising game. Average concurrent player counts have lingered under 100 (opens in new tab) since the October launch, but Steam user reviews are "very positive," and Lauren placed it among our games of the year as her pick for 2021 (opens in new tab).
"Its small server online world draws on the likes of pen and paper RPGs with trading and combat and talkative NPCs," she wrote. "It's visually and audibly serene as I've come to expect from Might and Delight after their Shelter series. I've spent a huge 50 hours slowly exploring this tiny world without worrying whether I'm missing out. It's the kind of low pressure online RPG relationship I'd needed all along."
To help keep the lights on and the wheels turning, Might and Delight has released a donation DLC for Book of Travels called Cup of Kindness (opens in new tab), which costs $2 and gets you absolutely nothing "but the warm feelings of helping out"—which, to be clear, is often worth a lot more than a measly two bucks. The studio also plans to release the Book of Travels soundtrack in the near future.