Rayark, the celebrated developers of Implosion - Never Lose Hope have another game on the horizon. In two weeks, Sdorica - Sunset, will be hitting the App Store in the US, which is a fantasy puzzle rpg of sorts. In the lead up to release, we’ve been playing Sdorica to unpack exactly what it is so you’ll know what to expect when it comes out on April 19.
It’s a unique matching game
As a game, Sdorica fits into the same mold of a bunch of puzzle rpgs. You have a cast of characters that you level up and take on missions to fight all kinds of other enemies using turn-based gameplay that involves matching blocks to unleash attacks and abilities.
That said, the matching in Sdorica is a little unlike most games we’ve seen before. Your matching field is only two rows deep and features as many colors of tiles as you have people in your party. There’s no shuffling blocks around or anything like that, either. Instead, you tap on any tile you want, and you have the option to drag to select any nearby blocks of the same color to be included in the match. Depending on the number of blocks you select, your character will perform different moves, and you have to learn how best to harness these abilities so you can beat your enemies before they beat you.
It’s very free-to-play
Unlike Implosion, Sdorica is a free-to-play game, and it really feels that way in every sense of the term. While there are no particularly glaring f2p faux pas like timers or pop-up ads, there are login bonuses, time-limited events, and gacha mechanics for unlocking new heroes.
All this isn’t a condemnation of the game, but it’s definitely something to be aware of if you have drawn your own lines in the sand about what free-to-play stuff you do and don’t tolerate. For me, Sdorica feels pretty conventional and fair as far as these kinds of games go, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn't a little annoying.
It’s weirdly narrative-heavy
For a game that seems very focused on having you grind materials to optimize your team for peak performance, Sdorica has a surprising amount of story in it. The game starts by setting up the world’s mythology through an opening cinematic about a dragon that ruled over immortal humans in darkness before a brave warrior stood up and slew it to make the sun, the earth, and grant mortality to humans. Although the world lives largely in peace, there are people who wish to reawaken the dragon to restore their immortality.
The opening movie leaves you with that overview of the world, but is by no means the only narrative in Sdorica though. In fact, it’s not entirely clear how the opening cinematic connects to the game at first, as your story begins with three main characters, Naya, Pang, and Tica meeting each other for the first time and teaming up to help Tica find a hermit scientist that is experimenting on beasts, and it's not clear how this connects with the overarching mythology until later into the game. All this is to say that you can expect a lot of cutscenes and dialogue in Sdorica, so prepare accordingly. This isn’t your typical puzzle rpg.
It’s actually kind of funny
For a premise about an ancient, tyrannical dragon being slain by a stoic hero, Sdorica’s actual moment-to-moment story is pretty lighthearted and goofy. Naya, Pang, and Tica all come from different worlds, and their odd grouping makes for many moments where they aren’t prepared for what someone else is going to say.
Sometimes this creates tension or results in some judgement, but it’s all handled in a way that is cartoonish and fun rather than heavy and serious. It’s really surprising, but kind of delightful. Puzzle rpgs don’t always have this much personality, so it’s cool to see Sdorica doing things differently.