You’re walking through the crowded entrance to the PAX entrance hall and a wizard approaches you. “I have a quest for you,” he says, and he asks if you’ll accept. If you do, he gives you a flag with directions to the tavern. This is a gaming convention, and a tavern would be a strange sight indeed, so you walk to the far corner of the event space and sure enough, there’s a wooden structure with flags, banners, and people who look like they live at the Renaissance Faire. “Try our game!” they implore you. Will you play Alluris? There’s no wrong answer, but you probably should.
All the fantasy of Dungeons & Dragons, all the gameplay of Tinder
Alluris is a title by indie developers 562 Interactive. You play the role of a fantasy adventurer who travels the vaguely Medieval European countryside looking for adventure. Or food. Or love. There are thousands of possibilities, and this is a game unlike any you’ve ever seen. It takes the high fantasy settings you might find in a classic RPG like Baldur’s Gate and simplifies the action down to a series of binary choices, like Tinder. Basically, you swipe a card left or right, as if you were trying to match with someone on a dating app.
Here’s how a turn goes in Alluris: You’re given a card with a scenario, for instance, “The king looks distraught.” Your choices may be to swipe left for “Keep walking,” or swipe right for “Ask His Majesty what’s troubling him.” Either choice leads to another card with another set of actions. It helps that the writing is genuinely hilarious, especially if you like your humor on the dry side.
The individual events are randomized, but there’s an overarching story that emerges as you play. An evil warlord is gaining power and will eventually conquer everything. Depending on your choices, you may or may not ever come to blows with this threat, but you will see the effects over time. It’s a great game to play on the go, as you can take on quests that fit into your commute time. Seasonal events also add longevity to the title.
Welcome to the tavern
I had a chance to speak with Alluris‘ developers at their makeshift tavern booth. The wizard I’d met was Preston Weiler, one of three brothers who founded 562 Interactive. He walked me through a Switch demo featuring the Christmas event. I helped Santa Claus with some magical issues and explored the North Pole, one swipe at a time. The Switch version has some nice extra features over other versions. You can manipulate the cards using the touch screen or gyroscopic controls, and the HD rumble is used to good effect.
We also discussed a bit about the development of Alluris. The Brothers Weiler wanted to make a game that took away the social barriers of Dungeons & Dragons, so they founded a game company to make that vision a reality. Ray is the art director, William is the head of programming, and Preston is the brand manager. As a team, this allows them to push boundaries in development meetings because at the end of the day, no one’s feelings are too damaged to hurt the family’s dynamic or business.
Ultimately, I greatly enjoyed my time playing this quirky title at PAX and can’t wait to swipe right on the full Switch version. Alluris is slated to be released on the Nintendo Switch in October of this year.