RPGs are nothing new, the genre has been around for decades, in all kinds of forms. One that I wasn’t aware of until very recently is MUDs or “multi-user dungeons.” These games are text-based RPG adventures where the player creates a character and has them navigate the MUD’s world using written commands.

Alter Aeon is one such game. You name your character, give them a class, and set out into the world to see what adventures await. This is a fantasy game, and pretty standard fare. Think old school Diablo in terms of classes and overall vibe, just without the graphics part.

The world is open and you can pretty much self-direct. There are quests of course, but pursuing them is up to you. A map in the bottom left corner serves as your guide, and control mechanism if you like. While it can be frustrating to not know where to go or what to do at certain points, there’s a sense of freedom in something like this that’s reminiscent to what open world RPGs try to evoke.

It can be a fun challenge to try to understand where you’re supposed to be going and how to solve a quest, and reaching the end of an arc is really rewarding because it really does feel like you’re the star of your own fantasy choose-your-own-adventure.

While in these dungeons, or just out in the world, you fight enemies and can gain items from their corpses. Managing this can be tricky as you only have so many slots, and liquids/potions you find can go bad if you aren’t using them. Deciding what’s worth keeping, and what you can easily part with is tricky, especially in the early game, but it does add significantly to the feeling of being an adventurer out on your own, figuring things out as you go along.

An aspect that was surprising, but really enhanced my experience, was being able to level up multiple classes. I’m used to modern video game RPGs where once you pick you’re more or less stuck unless you’re given the option to multiclass, but even then, you’re usually limited to a few at most. Alter Aeon turns that on its head by not only allowing you to level up every class, but also recommending that you do so. It took me a while to catch on that I could level up however I wanted to, and I mostly realized because the in-game text encouraged me to do so pretty aggressively.

Another quirk of the leveling that I found interesting was the way you learn new spells and abilities. Instead of the upgrade trees I’m used to, Alter Aeon has you seek out trainers in your field if you want to pick up any new tricks. I really like this premise in theory, but I can’t deny that there is an ease that comes with upgrade trees that this skips out on in favor of something interesting, but a bit more cumbersome.

That’s probably the major pain point with Alter Aeon, its systems and overall vibe tend to feel clunky, even when it’s doing something intriguing or fresh-feeling. This might make it a bit of a hard sell for those who aren’t as patient, but luckily there’s a very robust community full of resources available to help out if you get stuck or want some tips and tricks.

If you're a big fantasy fan who’s willing to deal with a bit of extra clunk, I’d say this game is definitely worth your time. It has a standard feeling, but still interesting storyline, and the sense of potential as you embark on your adventure is honestly unmatched.