After a successful Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight campaign, Epic Tavern has entered early access on steam. Epic Tavern is a fantasy tavern simulator, in which you run a bar that is on the brink of closure when you acquire it. Your goal is to take care of the fantasy heroes who come to have a drink and sleep for the night, while also talking them into going out on quests in a group for you while taking a cut for yourself.
The Game starts with a quick intro story of a group of regulars at the bar, drinking before going on a planned suicide mission to save the world by closing a gateway to a demon world. The banter between them is amusing, and the game immediately reminded me of a fun game of Dungeons and Dragons with a group of sarcastic friends. After the intro, randomly generated heroes begin coming to your tavern and the management game begins.
The game immediately starts into an empty tavern for you to manage, with very little tutorial given to you other than how to interact with your patrons. While some of the major mechanics are straightforward, things like managing equipment and restocking food are never explained. You have the ability to befriend patrons and hire them to join your tavern’s group of heroes and quest for you, but they can become hurt or gain status effects that are never really explained.
The game gives you a certain amount of action points you can use per day to befriend and hire heroes, after which you send your heroes out on a quest and then begin a new day. The quest involves a narrated mini story in which your heroes will travel through the land and interact with each other. The only real interaction in this section of the game is to roll requirement checks, similar to Dungeons and Dragons, to see if your party can do things like defeat an enemy in combat or convince others to help them.
While the game seems to have great potential, most features in the game are locked behind buttons with an “under construction” image straight out of the 90s over them. This lets you get a preview of what the developers have planned, such as tavern upgrades, fast forwarding through quests, etc., but it ends up limiting the game to the point that there isn’t very much to do. This causes the game to feel more like a demo that you get to play now after preordering the game and waiting for release. While it seems like it has an incredible amount of potential, the current purchase price of $25 is a bit steep if you are expecting a game you will be able to sink a good amount of time into immediately. If you want to show your support to the developers, however, the game does seem to be on track to be a success.