I’m not going to keep you in suspense here: I think it’s a genius concept.
When I first looked at Tale of Toast I thought it was too simple and had awful graphics. “Why even try?” I was thinking, “Take yourself seriously, game!” This is a small fantasy MMORPG made by two people. Just two! Yet even in alpha testing I got hit hard with nostalgia from my days in RuneScape and Mabinogi.
The game has little chibi characters, something reminiscent of Maplestory 2, and a simple world with adorable monsters to kill. Did I mention there’s full inventory loot and open world PVP? Yeah, you can kill that guy taking your mobs and take all his stuff. Even if you just want to run out and gather some ore or spear some fish, you’re at risk. And as I always have to mention, the game is a “no” on the P2W scale, but cosmetics are really pricey to the point I can’t justify a costume ever.
The fact that the game is so simple is why I love it. Games these days keep adding more. Hundreds of classes, thousands of combinations, all the storyline and questing they can fit. Or they deal away with it and call themselves a “sandbox” by giving you a house and calling everything “player-driven.”
Tale of Toast drops you in with no story to speak of (I’m available if you want help with some lore and story, wink wink). Upon wondering into the first town I came across a single quest — I think? Well, I assumed it was a quest because it was a guy with a big exclamation mark over his head standing next to a level 1 Bunny. But I misclicked and the exclamation mark went away, giving me no quest to speak of. My point is there’s very little to no questing, though it’s still in alpha so this is definitely subject to change. They subtly help you find your stats and menu so you can figure everything else out for yourself.
Life skills are what you’d expect from a game: the typical mining, gathering, cooking, blacksmithing, carpentry sort of stuff. Leveling it felt rewarding thanks to new items to gather and higher success of the lower gathers. I seriously hit level 5 herblore before I hit level 5 combat. And for those notorious skillers out there that just want to craft for days, yes, skilling gives you combat experience.
The combat is similar to Runescape, the sort of slow auto combat with weapons attacking at a set speed. It’s not the best form of combat in my humble opinion but it’s classic and for some reason I loved it. I went straight for mage and wrongly maxed an ice spell first (wrong because it had a cooldown and I couldn’t solely use magic to fight yet). I had some tough levels especially for such low levels but managed to progress slowly. My damage notably increased and the enemies noticeably got stronger — it felt like I was getting somewhere.
Spells and skills were basic: Like a few extra melee hits and a cripple hit to slow, arrow traps and shots, fire, ice and lightning magic and of course a few heals. It felt like original Mabinogi since you can take any skill you want in any tree, just have the right weapon equipped to use it.
I’d love to see some more variety in the heals section, maybe more buffs and less repetitive heals and HoTs. Of course the more skills the better. I didn’t appreciate weapons being locked to certain skills. I should be able to use melee skills with a mace and dagger, just like I should be able to use magic with a bow out. Why can I heal with a dagger but not a sword in my hand? Just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It would greatly improve the variety of combinations if spells weren’t locked to certain weapons — for the most part. I do think advanced spells shouldn’t be cast-able with a bow or sword and you should use a melee weapon for advanced melee skills. The stat system already guarantees you will pick one playstyle and stick with it so who cares if my mage character fights with a 5 damage bow instead of a staff that only benefits melee damage?
I’d love to see “class” combinations become viable but with a tradeoff. The amount of spell variety could greatly benefit from some quicker cast times with lower damage and mana costs, since mana absolutely wrecks any chance you have of continuous mage combat. Also, melee enemies get to lock you into fighting them for around 4 hits before you can run. Taking that timer off or reducing it to maybe 1 hit while increasing the speed of monsters could make it so you can kite around as an archer or mage but still offer a fair fight if enemies catch you.
Other than those changes, the other thing I’d change is fluidity. The game is still a bit clunky — from clicking on enemies, casting spells and other things, they just get in the way of each other and your character seems as confused as the game engine is.
The experience was wholesome. Even the sounds were made by people. Every level up sound and loot sound was by a person, not generated off a computer. The best part was probably the level up sound or the sheep. Sheep aren’t even voiced by sheep; it’s a person “baa-ing” into a microphone which made me laugh harder than I’ll admit.
Players were helpful and nice. I’d get random heals from people passing by and everyone was willing to answer questions. I died a few times and someone even “saved” my stuff for me so I could pick it up when I got back.
Strangely, I found myself excited when the alpha ended. I want more and I want to get some friends involved. I’d love to run with a guild and mess up baddies, fight the bosses and skill together. It’s nostalgic to me and until I hit max level and run out of stuff to do, I’m excited for the next alpha test. This game has great potential and I’ll be following it to see where it goes. Hopefully the two-man team gets more valuable feedback like I’ve seen on their subreddit and hopefully graphics aren’t all you care about in a video game so you’ll give it a chance like I did.