24 September 2021
It’s almost impossible to write anything meaningful about Colostle without falling back on the word “charming”
One of the most charming contenders to emerge from the recent boom in solo journaling RPGs, Colostle is a slimline path to adventures that blend excitement and whimsy in equal measure.
In fact, it’s almost impossible to write anything meaningful about Colostle without falling back on the word “charming”. The setting, for example, is a colossal castle (does that title make sense now?) that smashes childish daydreams into fantasy cliches with gleeful abandon. It provokes instant smiles from anybody who so much as glances at the book’s artwork, which depicts oceans that stretch across hallways, and mountains that blend with pillars climbing to an impossibly distant roof.
It’s this realm of light, fluffy fantasy that hosts to Colostle’s many adventures, which play out as a curious blend of creative writing exercise and solitaire. Rather than dice, random chance in Colostle is left to a deck of cards and the player’s own imagination.
Most segments of the game, which are laid out in journal entries, are handled by having the player draw a handful of cards to determine what they find. Pull a five of clubs while exploring the land, for example, and your character comes across a giant, broken-down mechanism jutting from the landscape.
What does this mean? Well, that’s up to you. The rules, such as they exist, are ultra-light, and many encounters are essentially writing prompts wearing the skin of an RPG encounter. The only real exceptions to these are encounters that lead to fights, or when you stumble across a useful item.
Even then, battles in Colostle aren’t exactly heavyweight, tactical affairs. Defeating foes requires a quick minigame of trying to out-draw your opponent, and even the most complicated fights are mostly there to inspire cool fight scenes in your journal.
If there’s a downside to Colostle, it might be that – ironically – it’s a little on the small side. There are only so many prompts and ideas that can be squeezed into its 50-something pages, and there’s a decent chance of running into repeats if you play for more than a few sessions.
Still, while Colostle isn’t the deepest of solo RPGs out there, that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable, nor any less charming.
Play it? YES
Designer: Nich Angell
This article originally appeared in issue 59 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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