At heart, Rollers of the Realm is a pinball game. You've got a table, a left flipper, a right flipper, and a metal ball you send careening into things to earn points. The major difference is that as a virtual pinball RPG, it also includes item collection, money, stats and various other traits you'd associate with an RPG. You're not just going for a high score; you're collecting loot along the way. One of the concessions is that you have some influence over the ball after it leaves the flipper, sort of like the classic "tilt" concept. You can use the left stick to "nudge" the ball in a certain direction, although depending on the circumstances, your control over the ball changes.
Every character in Rollers of the Realm is represented by a different pinball. The rogue, the first character you get in the demo, is a small and lightweight ball. It's easy to knock around and even easier to slip into small spaces. The second one you get is the knight, and he is the polar opposite. The ball is significantly larger and heavier, and it's more difficult to aim but can hit more targets and can break environmental objects. The downside is he's also too big to fit into certain areas. You can't have more than one main character on the field at a time unless certain conditions are met. You can hot-swap your character whenever the ball is at rest. This includes both before it is launched or when you have it resting on an upraised flipper. You can swap between available characters instantly to alter the weight and properties of your ball.
This is quite important, since each pinball table is more of a puzzle than a pinball table. You need pinball skills to get the ball where it needs to go, but that's mixed with some light puzzle-solving. For example, one of the early areas is a sewer level filled with flippers, many of which also serve as doors or platforms. You have to time your button presses to get the ball through the maze of rotating flippers and reach the exit, pausing to find and loot treasure chests along the way. The level after that is one where you have to "loot" people in the town by hitting them from behind with your rogue ball; it's akin to going for the high score in most pinball games. There seems to be a mix of RPG-pinball action and more traditional types.
Of course, part of this is going to involve various RPG elements. Combat is unusual. We didn't see much of it in our demo, but the way it plays out is that you have to hit enemies who do damage. You can use special abilities by spending mana to amplify that damage. For example, the rogue can summon her pet dog to give you a multiball feature, but you'll take damage if you fail and lose your ball. Most of the time, losing a ball is relatively painless and safe, but during combat, it can wear you down.
Rollers of the Realm is also going to include a fully voice-acted story line featuring up to 10 different characters, each with abilities and upgrades they can gain as they level up. There will be special bosses, powerful loot and all sorts of other RPG mechanics in addition to an ever-increasingly difficult set of pinball tables. For those looking for more classic pinball action, there is also going to be a set of challenge tables with built-in leaderboard support. Rollers of the Realm is coming to the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PC via Steam in Q4 2014.
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