The Isometric RPG Resurgence

Torment: Tides of Numenera is the latest RPG from InXile Entertainment and is on track to become one of the best examples of the genre. It is a game that I cannot wait to lose myself in, but odds are I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this game if not for a full on RPG revolution taking place over 4 years ago. Over the past four years or so, the video game industry has seen the remarkable revival of a bygone genre, the Isometric RPG. For over a decade the genre was practically devoid of any large scale efforts at a new title, even in the PC gaming space. In 2012, the genre received what many thought to be its death knell, the release of Diablo III. A streamlined, simplified version of its predecessor, the base version of Diablo III was met with almost universal disdain from series fans. However, a year later, the Isometric RPG genre would receive a jump start the likes of which had never been seen. Divinity: Original Sin was that jump start. Kickstarted back in 2013, this revolutionary campaign received more than double its funding goal, and showed game developers everywhere that there is in fact a market for these types of experiences. Wasteland 2 quickly followed on the heels of Divinity and from there a whole host of excellent isometric RPG games have been released.

Pillars of Eternity is one of the best recent examples of the Isometric RPG

Interestingly enough, the vast majority of these games get made thanks to crowdfunding from sites like Kickstarter. This genre is really being directly held up by the community of fans that love these games. I’m torn on whether or not this is a good thing or not. On the one hand, these games almost certainly would not exist if not for crowdfunding. Publishers at the time made it very clear that they had no interest in putting games like this out anymore. But, crowdfunding is a tricky thing. Asking fans to buy into a concept before there are any tangible gains to be had is a risky proposition for both developers and fans. Developers are now much more beholden to a schedule, and are obligated to keep backers updated with where the money is going. Likewise, fans have no guarantee that the product they are investing in will ever see the light of day, and if it does, it may not be exactly what they were expecting.

Amazingly enough though, there are not many horror stories when it comes to crowd funded isometric RPGs. Success stories like Pillars of Eternity and Wasteland 2 are not the exception, but rather the norm. Either way, it looks like the isometric RPG is not going anywhere anytime soon, and I couldn’t be happier about that. You can play Torment: Tides of Numenera on Steam and PS4 on February 28th.

Leave a Reply