People are super angry about Pokemon Sword and Shield, and there’s still about four months until the game even releases. It’s somewhat understandable: the announcement that all the Pokemon from previous games wouldn’t be returning has upset a lot of fans, and the explanation that it was to balance the game and improve animations is somewhat countered by everything we’ve seen and read so far. Still, I get it: Pokemon is a massive franchise, Gamefreak isn’t the biggest company, and if they don’t put out a new title this year then Yokai Watch will rear its ugly head again and I’ll need to deal with that nonsense. But, then again, Gamefreak is…143 people. Whereas Thylacine Studios is…I dunno, three people? Five? And somehow they were able to get more than 700 of their beastly creations up and running for their port of Siralim 3 to the Nintendo Switch, which, I dare say, is one of the most surprising experiences I’ve played in a while.
Siralim 3 is the sequel to the original Siralim and Siralim 2, but don’t worry if you’ve never played those, because I sure as hell didn’t. Siralim is a kingdom that sits in the center of a country (planet?) called Rodia, and the king of Siralim isn’t well. That doesn’t mean he’s ill and you need to save him, it means that an unknown force has infected his brain and now he’s taking over all the kingdoms one by one. You’re the sole ruler of the last untainted realm, called Nex, and Nex isn’t going to simply keel over and die. With advice from your trusted advisors and the gods who rule over the usurped realms, you’re aiming to get back control of fifteen other kingdoms and defeat the King, bringing peace back to Rodia. But you can’t do it alone: you need to harness the power of the massive bestiary of Rodia, summoning and commanding monsters from all different walks and realms, and work out the perfect team to do battle and defeat the uber bosses who hold the reigns of every stolen kingdom. Get ready to catch em all and get a whole lot of monsters.
Siralim 3 is, without question, a monster catching, training and breeding game. Starting off fairly innocuous, you have to decide your faction, decide your starting monster, and then jump into the thick of a battle that’s currently raging in Nex. There’s not a ton of explanation, and you’d be well suited not to wonder too much about the how and the why of some things. Primarily, you engage in combat with monsters, extract their cores to make additional monsters, and then summon them in a braiser back in your home castle for the small price of a ton of money and resources. Especially at the beginning, you won’t be just grabbing fistfuls of beasts and adding them to your party: you’ll need to gradually work your way up through different fights and battles to a point where you can get another monster, then another, and then eventually be so crazy rich that you just summon monsters like mad. There’s also the matter of breeding monsters together to make new and sometimes unique monsters that you can’t catch otherwise, though that does reveal itself a bit further along in the game. There’s also the possibility of getting a “Singular” monster, which is a beast with a different color palette than others, so, if you’re obsessed with completionism, you’ve got quite a road ahead of you.
Players who read the word “Pokemon” in my review and immediately assumed cute anime critters were waiting for them will be terribly disappointed. Quite the reverse, Siralim takes inspiration from the Dragon Quest Monsters era of monster summoning, sticking with creatures that are more in the vein with ghastly and ghoulish a la 16 bit Shin Megami Tensei and such. They’re distinct, they’re pixel art style, they’re proudly part of this mad quest and will allow you to develop favorites and particulars whether you’re aiming for a style party or just a brutally efficient force. Mutant Vampire Bat, Imp Hexer, Unicorn Vivifier, Wicked Carver…these are just a few of the names of things that you’ll actually fight, engage with, and potentially align with. You’ll find monsters that you lean on for a long time because they get the quick and dirty accomplished (my Djinn Illusionist always managed to stay alive and boost the others), and you’ll have to make judgement calls about whether you’re gonna swap someone out or just keep on trucking and see about the other monsters later. But they are all memorable, so, just because the Ancient Grimoire doesn’t do a lot of damage, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t summon it and at least see how things stack up.
The combat and exploration of Siralim 3 is a major part of the game, and it handles well as long as you’re not expecting something overly flashy and 3D. Taking inspiration for the aforementioned games, everything works more on a grid system, providing a top down view of you and your ever-trailing party of monsters as you explore, finding treasure chests, items to consume or destroy, NPCs connected to questing and, naturally, other monsters. The combat is a turn based event that looks and feels like JRPGs from years gone by, and each turn you’re presented with a bevy of options for what to do. Simply attack, defend, use a skill, use an item, provoke the enemy to draw attention or forfeit the battle, this area, at least, should feel fairly straightforward to anyone coming into the game. Areas of resistance and weakness become apparent through trial and error, so players who’re focused on the strategy aspect will be able to quickly discern a table of design before even finishing the first realm. And, if that’s all there was to it, I’d write Siralim 3 off as a simple but enjoyable indie game that can scratch a certain itch, yet there’s a lot more than meets the eye.
Getting into Siralim 3 is a bit of a daunting task at first, simply because there is SO much of it. Besides a bit of reading as things get introduced (I believe I was still getting new information tips over two hours in), there are a ton of customization aspects to keep in mind for every step forward. Monsters get to have different base natures (Chaos, Death, Sorcery, Life and Nature), and then you get to equip them with items that can affect how they perform, THEN you decide what spells/abilities they have (which are different from the intrinsic abilities that each have), and that’s just about the monsters themselves, and I’m sure I’m missing something. You see, YOU are also fighting! Yes, you, Mr./Ms. Warrior King! You get to level up and make yourself better, which makes your monsters better in turn. But you get to do this by getting achievements, of which there must be several thousand or infinity, I’m not entirely sure. You get these achievements for just about everything: completing quests, learning more about monsters, finding gods, eating everything you find, destroying everything you find, talking to people…the list goes on and on. Achievement points then get added to a separate trait menu, which you use to increase your own prowess, and then it makes the monsters better. Do you know what it’s like to know every single beast you control has a 15% change to randomly afflict a status ailment regardless of the situation because that’s what you dumped all your achievement points into? It’s exhilarating.
The feeling of enormity never really goes away for Siralim 3, and it’s easy to see why and how. The development team of Thylacine Studios (which, again, maybe five or fewer people) were already mad when they made the backbone of Siralim 3 so complex, and even moreso when they decided that each dungeon should be procedurally generated so that players would continually dive back in to find everything and build up more and more of an understanding of each beast (not to mention find MORE items that I still haven’t even fully figured out). Then, on top of that, Thylacine made the call to take away things like level caps or “end of the game” and just let it GO. You defeated the fifteen realms and killed the King of Siralim, big freaking deal! How about new realms where there’s additional random problems with each floor that could help or hurt your hunt? Endless side quests with rewards, both item and experience related? Ultra bosses that are freaking impossible to hunt down, much less kill, but give you ridiculously overpowered rewards? Oh, and asynchronous PVP! You can fight people, anywhere, anytime, on each of your own schedules, and get rewards for winning that you can’t get anywhere else! And since this game is designed to be played forever, there’s cross platform cloud saves. If you’re one of the crazy people who’ve put more than a thousand hours into Siralim 3 already (and they legitimately exist), you can export your game to the Switch and pick up where you left off with ZERO penalties or errors. Oh, and be sure to enter into the summer event and get some special goods for questing before the end of the month, though there’ll probably be another event soon.
Siralim 3 isn’t your traditional “buy it, play it, forget it” indie title. This is one of those games that was born out of someone’s dream for an ideal title, brought to life with time and patience, and has gradually evolved and reshaped under the requests and input from the community. The people who enjoy playing Siralim 3 are fiercely loyal to this off-beat layer cake of a forever quest, and it’s frankly easy to see why. Whether this becomes something that you forsake all other titles to play, or it just becomes a constant revisit throughout your gaming career, Siralim 3 is welcoming and exciting, especially with a price tag that is equal to other consoles and Steam (the iOS version is cheaper, I suppose, but a controller really is the way to go). If you’re at all curious, I’d say dive in and get this immediately: or, as Torun would tell you, “JUST BUY THE #$%#$ING GAME.”
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Siralim 3 Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 9/10
User Review( votes)
So what if we just had a game that went on forever and you could just keep enjoying it? That was the mission statement for Siralim 3, and it’s spot on.