When you’re at PAX East, or any similar convention – your body is going to need rest at some point. Occasionally, you’ll see nerds of all walks of life in borderline comatose states sprawled all around the convention center (#PAXNaps), whether they’re slumped up against walls, hanging over plastic chairs, or just making carpet angels on the floor. While the majority of booths at PAX East demand that you stand in line for outrageous amounts of time, there was one booth that served as a beacon of hope amidst the sweaty, exhausted masses. That booth, my friends, was that of Eon Altar in the heart of the IndieMegaBooth. All I knew was that they had beanbag chairs, and I was willing to play whatever games they were showing in order to get some quality time sitting down in one.
“So, what is Eon Altar” you ask? Well, it may sound like a new Scott Stapp-led Christian Rock group – but its actually an incredibly fun and immersive Indie RPG from the folks at Flying Helmet Games. Eon Altar draws its gameplay inspiration from isometric dungeon crawlers like Diablo and Baldur’s Gate, its control scheme from top-tier mobile RPGs, and its actual roleplaying (and I do mean role-playing) elements from fantasy tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons. If any of that wasn’t enough to get you to tab over to the Steam website and start downloading, just keep reading.
Eon Altar isn’t your typical dungeon crawler. Where many RPGs in the past few years have focused on dying frequently, spending more time researching bosses than actually fighting them, or grinding hours upon hours of quests while obtaining zero information about the game’s story, Eon Altar focuses on character development first, and that all starts with the person holding the controller (read: smartphone). Eon Altar invokes a phone/tablet controller scheme, which might seem odd or unnecessary, but is actually extremely engaging. Let’s face it, your jackass friends are going to have their faces buried in their phones the entire night while they hang out with you anyway, so you might as well give them something to look at.
Your phone will display a digital control stick while out of combat, and will also provide subtitles for an entirely-voiced campaign. The most unique thing about this, however, is that you will be voicing your character. That’s right. If your chosen character has something to say or something on their mind, Eon Altar expects you to read aloud (or not) the lines it feeds you from the screen. There are options to ‘withhold’ information from your party (your character may want to keep this information a secret), which adds a new dimension of roleplaying in an era where, in this guy’s opinion, most RPGs tend to often neglect the actual “RP”. The combat is very reminiscent of the aforementioned isometric dungeon crawlers, save for the fact that Eon Altar uses a “team turn-based” system. This means that the good guys all move together, and then the bad guys all move together. This allows time for you and your buddies to strategize, shotgun a beer, or argue over the last slice of pizza before the next round begins.
Narratively, Eon Altar may seem intimidating for RPG players that want 100% hacking and slashing and 0% lore. That being said, if you’re the type of player (like me) that likes to read every line of text, absorb every ounce of lore, and truly get immersed into the role you’re playing (see what I did there) – this game was made for you. Eon Altar is just $4.99 on Steam Early Access right now, which enables couch co-op for up to four players who download the free iOS/Google Play companion app. And hey, if you make your friends pay for pizza and beers on their way to your house – its almost like you never paid five bucks for the game in the first place.