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Saturday 25 May 2024

Solitaire: Colostle – Kyodaina

Beyond the walls of your hometown or village lie the Roomlands. A vast castle that covers the whole of the known world and beyond, whose individual rooms, corridors, stairs, and rafters contain whole environments of their own. Mountains, lakes, deserts, forests, caves, and ancient ruins. Oceans stretch across rooms as far as the eye can see and beyond. Desert sands whip and whirl down long corridors. Forests climb the stairs that seem to rise to nowhere. Rooks—walking castles—lurk, a constant danger. Stone giants that seem to have no purpose, other than to wander aimlessly until something captures their attention and then they erupt in incredible aggression. This is world of a near limitless castle known as Colostle, into which brave adventurers set forth, perhaps to undertake tasks and quests for the Hunter’s Guild, perhaps to explore on their own, to hunt Rooks for the precious, often magical resources they contain, or simply to protect a village or settlement from rampaging Rooks or bandits. What though if a door from one room to another, led not to another, but another realm? One where the earth is broken and chunks of it float in the sky and the great pillars that hold up the ceilings of the Rooms are painted in once bright, but now fading lacquer. One where the Rooks with multiple, red-tiled roofs, stalk Rooms on thin, finely balanced legs and wield weapons with deadly finesse than the brute force of at home. One where sky ships, their hulls carved from Rook husks cross overhead. Where Imperial soldiers stop and search everyone for Rookstones. One where fallen Rooks have been turned into temples where you can rest, recuperate, and even research to gain new skills and spirituality. One where the Red Emperor rules with an iron fist. This is the land of Kyodaina and it is nothing like you have seen before.

Colostle – Kyodaina expands Colostle: A Solo RPG Adventure, definitely the prettiest solo journalling game on the market, by taking it to the furthest east of its lands where the artwork is at its most Ghibli-esque. Kyodaina is also a sequel to Colostle – The Roomlands, the first supplement for Colostle: A Solo RPG Adventure. However, a player need not have adventured through Colostle – The Roomlands to play, but narratively, it helps if he has. Much like Colostle: A Solo RPG Adventure, what Colostle – Kyodaina does is introduce a new realm for the player and his character to explore and within that several lands or ‘Zones’, a new character type, and a directed campaign. The latter shifts the play of v away from the open world exploration of Colostle: A Solo RPG Adventure towards a journalling game with a ‘choose your own adventure’ book feel, consisting of story sections rather than numbered paragraphs which work like cut scenes for video games, and map areas which can be more freely explored and have keyed descriptions elsewhere. The result is that Colostle – Kyodaina is designed to tell a particular story, though of course, how that story plays out is of course, up to the draw of the cards and the player.

The new character Class is The Spirited, which also introduces a new stat—Spirit. The Spirited Class represents someone who has grown up in or studied at one of the temples or monasteries to be found across Kyodaina. Radically, the Spirited begins play without any connection to a Rook, no augmentation provided by a Rook-part, but instead must rely upon his training and the secret arts learned at the temple or monastery. Each aligned with an element and a suit from an ordinary deck of playing cards—such as those used in the play of Colostle: A Solo RPG Adventure—these powers include ‘Rook’s Power’, which lets the character flood his feet with his spirit and in stomping hard on the ground, causing a ripple that surges through the ground and knocks opponents to the ground and temporarily reduces their Combat score by one, and ‘Rook’s Senses’, which enables the character to fill his vision with spirit and see more than any ordinary person could, effectively doubling the number of cards the player can draw during the game’s exploration phases. The Spirited Class is intended to be played as a character native to Kyodaina, rather than as someone who has come from the regions and Roomlands explored in Colostle: A Solo RPG Adventure and Colostle – The Roomlands. However, if the character does come from either the Colostle: A Solo RPG Adventure or Colostle – The Roomlands, during the play of Colostle – Kyodaina, the character has the opportunity to rest, heal, and learn at the same temples and monasteries, and so learning these Spirit powers. Each temple or monastery offers a different range of Spirit powers. This gives the visiting character the Spirit stat too, which is used to activate the Spirit powers. Unlike other stats in Colostle: A Solo RPG Adventure, Spirit can be depleted and restored without the character dying.

Mechanically, the differences between Colostle: A Solo RPG Adventure and Colostle – Kyodaina are relatively minor. Kyodainan Rooks are different, faster and more precise, and unlike Rooks elsewhere, can make critical strikes against the Player Character. Imperial Soldiers will constantly hunt for Rookstones, the magical stones that power Rooks, operating in squads of three that will want to search the Player Character, whilst the Player Character might face wave after wave of Imperial Soldiers if he tries to infiltrate Imperial Fortresses. If successful, the Player Character will find all manner of information.

The play of Colostle – Kyodaina begins at one of its temples, the Temple of the Stone Fist. From here, the player will set out and explore the new realm. This consists of four zones—the Spirit Forest, the Fangs of the Mountain Range, the Hori Archipelago, and the Skylands. Each has its own temple, its own set of encounter and NPC tables in addition to the general ones given for whole of the realm, and above all, its own character. The Spirit Forest is serene and quiet, its donjon trees towering so high that the majority of Kyodaina’s inhabitants can live here in safety from the Rooks below; the Fangs of the Mountain Range consists of ancient Rook husks fused with the rock, laced with tunnels and rooms, and sometimes transformed into a volcano; the Hori Archipelago are tropical islands in a shallow sea where Rooks have adapted to the environment and the lands are pierced by towering swords, hammers, and axes; and the Skylands where chunks of earth—both uninhabited and inhabited—float like islands in the sky and can be reached by climbing or travelling via a skyboat. Each also has specific locations where events take place, for example, the village of Eda is in the Spirit Forest and faces an attack by Imperial Soldiers. The Player Character has the opportunity to defend the village.

Once the Player Character has explored three or more of the zones in Colostle – Kyodaina, an encounter with an NPC—previously encountered in Colostle – The Roomlands—will open up the end game for Colostle – Kyodaina. This involves the Player Character in the Resistance against the Emperor and his Imperial Soldiers and exploring the Imperial City of Shiro. It will lead to the infiltration of the city itself and a confrontation with the Emperor and his Rook servitors, both infiltration and confrontation playing out as sub-games in their own right. In the process of playing through Colostle – Kyodaina there are secrets to be discovered—or at least hinted at—and lastly, a suggested sequel to come which takes Colostle: A Solo RPG Adventure below.

Physically, Colostle – Kyodaina is as stunning as both Colostle: A Solo RPG Adventure and Colostle – The Roomlands. The artwork is superb, beautifully depicting the wonder of this new realm and its zones. However, the writing is not quite as good as it could have been and Colostle – Kyodaina does need an edit here and there.

Colostle – Kyodaina is a beautiful book. Its artwork alone—just as with the previous two books—is enough to draw the viewer into wanting to explore this world. The play of Colostle – Kyodaina differs greatly to the simple open-world exploration of Colostle: A Solo RPG Adventure, though there is scope for that, instead offering a specific story to play out, one which feels much more like a video game. As a video game experience, Colostle – Kyodaina gives the player a more immersive and reflective experience as he plays out and records in his journal his character’s exploration of the new realm. Fans of Colostle: A Solo RPG Adventure will welcome this return to the Roomlands as it takes them beyond and into Colostle – Kyodaina


Colostle will be at UK Games Expo which takes place on Friday, May 31st to Sunday June 2nd, 2024.

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