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Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Anti-Skyrim: Monomyth takes role-playing games back to their roots

Can you still learn new lessons from a 30-year-old role-playing game? Yes, says a developer who has been working on his dream RPG for five years.

Seldom has a game done as much good for a genre as Skyrim – and at the same time done so much bad. Whatever one’s opinion of Bethesda’s Norse open world, The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim shaped the idea of a great, free-form role-playing game for an entire generation of gamers.

It seems impossible to write about first-person 3D RPGs these days without at least mentioning Skyrim, so present is it still in the minds of gamers, ten years after release. The astonishing fact that Skyrim will receive its third re-release in 2021 has certainly contributed to this.

Michael Tröls can only dream of such fabulous success so far. The Austrian has been working for five years on a role-playing game that will be quite different from Skyrim in many ways and wants to turn back the clocks further than to the open-world revolution of 2011 – to the 1990s, to the origins of the genre, to be exact. And yet Tröl’s project Monomyth cannot escape the Skyrim comparison, if only visually.

In terms of gameplay, Monomyth is aimed precisely at those players who have no use for the new mainstream approach of “casualised” role-playing games like Skyrim. Who long for the very old role-playing game qualities. For whom the descent into dungeons was not a change from wandering around in the bright overworld, but simply the only game content. Monomyth wants to bring back what made Ultima Underworld great. And to do so, it reflects on what The Elder Scrolls has increasingly forgotten with Skyrim: a truly interactive world in which simulation and game logic play first fiddle.

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