Grim fantasy retro-RPG Skald: Against the Black Priory has a new demo ahead of a spring 2024 release

After a few years of development teases, retro-style RPG Skald: Against the Black Priory has a release window: spring 2024. The party-based RPG has been touted as an example of marrying a retro aesthetic—Commodore 64 era, in this case—with a more modern style of game and interface design.

To go along with the announcement that it’s coming in spring, Skald has released an updated demo that has a lot of really improved visuals and interface elements from what was released in January of this year. That’s alongside the new trailer, on YouTube and above, that shows off the updated looks and gameplay. Here’s a bit of description from the publisher:

“Experience an engaging, branching story with rich exploration and multiple-choice dialogue. Battle foes in gripping turn-based combat as you journey through hand-crafted environments to unravel SKALD’s sinister secrets. Do you have what it takes to lead a company of broken heroes from the tainted shores of Idra to the gates of the Black Priory – and beyond?,” it says.

Skald is going all-in on vibes, as you can see from any given screenshot or trailer, and it’s really focusing on a grim, dark, very adult fantasy world where the everyday is deadly, but the real enemy is on the scale of cosmic horror—your Cthulhus and the like. The developer describes it as “an amoral fantasy world full of ill-fated heroes, violent deaths and freakish horror.”

PC Gamer writer Tom Sykes was impressed by how approachable the game was when he had time with it a while back. 

“This retro-styled CRPG might seem hardcore, but in fact it’s pretty approachable. Autosaves have your back, you can do almost everything using only the mouse, and there’s even a button to automate the turn-based combat,” he said in a magazine-exclusive piece.

For my part, I quite like the hints of character-building you get in the demo. Hard to pass judgment on the overall story, but the choices of feats for specializing your characters are pretty interesting and exciting. If you like to synergize and specialize a whole party of heroes, this might be one for you.

Skald is developed by one-man team High North Studios and published by Raw Fury. You can find Skald: Against the Black Priory on GOG and Steam.

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