I wrote my
almost two years ago. And the game has finally come out! I was very much impressed back then. Am I impressed now? Only this teeny tiny Trials of Fire preview Trials of Fire review will tell.
In Trials of Fire, your take your three hero crew on a short quest (recommended completion time usually under three hours) into the cinders of the living world. You have your map (and a mini-map, which wasn’t in the Early Access), and you choose where to go, with interactive spots clearly marked out. Some of them will be text encounters. Some of them will be battles, and battles is what the game is about.
Each hero class comes with 9 cards to be used in combat and more are added by equipping items. As you level up, you can either upgrade one of those 9 class cards, or replace it with one of four random, class appropriate choices. No need to worry about stats, resistances, and other nonsense, just look at what works for your heroes and your gear.
Each character starts their turn with three cards (drawn at the end of their turn, so they’re susceptible to enemy card-manipulation shenanigans), each costing an amount of Willpower from the communal pool. Will is usually generated by discarding cards, but the character that discarded them can instead choose to either make a simple two hex move or remain stationary to get some armor. The last bit is, I believe, something that wasn’t in the Early Access version, and is a much-welcome addition. Not having to rely on specific cards for defense (which is halved at the start of your turn, so it can hardly spiral out of control) can be the difference between life and death.
In the end, the fighting in Trials of Fire is all about exploiting your powers and the way they combo to the fullest. This is extra true in boss battles, as you’ll need all the buffs and debuffs to survive them.
Win a battle and you might get some loot – as well as the chance to level up. While you can choose which of your crew gets the level, Trials of Fire doesn’t let anyone get ahead, so the next time a level up choice comes up, you’ll only be able to choose from the other two characters.
Aside from obviously valuable money and gear, you can find food supplies (important for resting, healing, and not starving), healing herbs (for when your character falls in battle and gains a weakness card – or, if you’re feeling cocky, just upgrading or forgetting a skill) and various materials (for improving your items).
What gear a character class can equip is determined by the type of gear slots they have. As a Warrior, Jarrah can wield a variety of close combat weapons and protective gear, but possesses little aptitude for potions and gizmos. While most items just give you cards, other also count towards quality (the amount of redraws a char gets in combat) and armor (the HP added to your base HP). Swag of the more epic variety might also have passive abilities that influence gameplay in a variety of ways.
And for the end, exploration: the events are presented in this text-adventure format, and I suggest you play with the spoilers off. It’s more fun not really knowing what your choices will bring. Also, the game is good enough to give you special options if you have certain heroes or followers (non-combat dudes who provide a certain boost each). Exploration is where you get to read all about the world of Ashe (nee The Living World), and the precarious situation the various races are in the magically devastated world. All in all, Trials of Fire is a good game, would recommend.