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Developer(s)Black Shell Games
Publisher(s)Black Shell Media
Director(s)Daniel Doan
Producer(s)Raghav Mathur
Programmer(s)Daniel Doan
Artist(s)Angel Rodriguez
Writer(s)Dorian Karahalios, Yixin Li
Composer(s)Rafael Langoni Smith
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
  • WW: April 29, 2014
Black Edition
  • WW: February 13, 2015
Genre(s)RPG, roguelike, strategy, adventure

SanctuaryRPG is a roguelike adventure video game developed by Black Shell Games, a subsidiary of Black Shell Media LLC. The game was released on April 29, 2014 for Microsoft Windows. In the game, players create a character and travel throughout the game vanquishing enemies, crafting items, and collecting loot, with the ultimate goal of defeating The Matron.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]


SanctuaryRPG is a strategic turn-based monster slaying and dungeon crawling adventure set in a retro ASCII-art world. The game puts players in control of an adventurer in search of The Matron. After customizing their character and choosing from several game modes, the player is thrust in the game world. Players are encouraged to explore the sprawling locales of Westhaven in addition to the main storyline. On their travels, players must defeat many different types of enemies, ranging from slimes, to skeletons and robots. The game has permadeath in Classic mode, so when the player dies in the game, there isn't an option to respawn.[1]

Players can select destinations via context menu in order to explore the game world, and will engage in battle with various beasts in these areas via a combo-based combat system. Winning battles grants the player gold, experience points, and sometimes, various items. In addition to the combat, players can also explore the world and talk to various non-player characters throughout the game. There is a crafting system in the game as well, which allows players to create their own weapons and armors. The game also contains humorous dialogue, and continually reminds players of its light-hearted nature.[2]


PC Gamer's Tom Sykes describes the game as, "a streamlined and grind-free take on Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest and early Ultima and Things Like That". He goes on further to elaborate that the game is, "an expansive firstpersonish fantasy world you interact with by typing numbers on your keyboard." With regard to the game world itself, he noted that, "Narration and dialogue is playful and pretty funny, while the lack of painstakingly drawn art has allowed the team to imagine outlandish creatures and scenarios to their heart's content." Pearson concluded, "Despite appearances – and despite the whole permadeath thing in Classic mode – Sanctuary is actually fairly streamlined and forgiving, downplaying timesinky stuff like inventory management to ensure that you're always moving forward."[1]

Rock Paper Shotgun's Konstantinos Dimopoulos review of the game states, "Describing SanctuaryRPG as a huge, hilarious and most honorable devourer of free time would be an understatement. Also, a rather vague statement too, as this freeware beauty also happens to be a proper, full-fledged text-based RPG with some terrific ASCII illustrations and outrageous bosses, that lets you fantasize about being anything from a burly barbarian or a pious paladin to a roaming ranger or a wicked wizard."[2]

Destructoid's Patrick Hancock praised the game, stating that "It's got a very old-school vibe thanks to the ASCII graphics and UI, but the combat feels modern and intelligent. It caters to a wide variety of players, even if you don't have any sort of nostalgia for games like Nethack or Zork."[3]

NewEgg's David Sanchez remarked about the gameplay, stating "The stellar blend of roguelike, RPG, dungeon crawler, and text adventure makes for a quest that’s overflowing with variety and practically nonstop entertainment. Throw in a few side quests and the inclusion of six character classes, and you’ve got a diverse retro-themed quest that’s a sheer blast all the way through."[4]

Hardcore Gamer's Jahanzeb Khan especially enjoyed the battle system, noting that "SanctuaryRPG has a fast paced and truly engaging turn based battle system, and you find yourself so swept away by the flow of it that it’s easy to have a split second slip-up and immediately taste defeat after. You sometimes forget how it’s supposed to be turn-based affair and that you can take your time during your turn, because you can’t help but react impulsively out of instinct. Such is its design, and there’s so much going. Spells, combo attacks, character re-positioning, and extravagantly named ultra special attacks, SanctuaryRPG literally has it all."[5]

Gamasutra's Lena LeRay writes "Where the game really shines in terms of gameplay is in promoting player choice in all things and making those choices matter." Remarking on the game's unique and stylistic design choices, she notes "Its blend of modern game design and old-school aesthetic isn't quite like anything I've seen so far." LeRay also makes mention of the game's in-depth system of customizing loot, stating that it is "an extensive crafting system in which the player must balance material durability with increasing progress towards completion and increasing quality."[6]

Kotaku's Logan Booker adds "Despite being drawn with a limited set of colours and characters, it looks quite good and sufficiently adventurous." Booker notes that the game's sizable download size, in lieu of its ASCII art exterior by saying, "Don’t let appearances fool you — the game in its current state weighs in at 93MB. So there’s definitely some meat there."[7]

Softpedia's Alexandru Chirila states that the game is "An RPG with humor that’s sharper than any sword you’ll be using to battle monsters." He also indicates that the game humorously defies logic by stating that "Most of the charm that comes out of SanctuaryRPG is from its witty and unexpectedly logical storytelling of a world that’s populated by vicious beasts, slimy worms that like to be petted and robots that put themselves together after you defeat them."[8]


  1. ^ a b c Sykes, Tom (Apr 26, 2014). "The Best Free Games of the Week". PC Gamer. Retrieved Aug 16, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Dimopoulos, Konstantinos (Aug 14, 2014). "Freeware Garden: SanctuaryRPG". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved Aug 16, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Hancock, Patrick (Jul 17, 2014). "SanctuaryRPG is now available and name-your-own-price!". Destructoid. Retrieved Aug 16, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Sanchez, David (Aug 14, 2014). "Review: SanctuaryRPG is a fun ASCII experience". NewEgg. Archived from the original on 2014-08-16. Retrieved Aug 16, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Khan, Jahanzeb (Apr 8, 2014). "Review: SanctuaryRPG". Hardcore Gamer. Retrieved Aug 16, 2014.
  6. ^ a b LeRay, Lena (Aug 21, 2014). "PWYW Pick: SanctuaryRPG blends old-school aesthetics and new-school mechanics". Gamasutra.
  7. ^ a b Booker, Logan (Jan 21, 2015). "SanctuaryRPG Wants To ASCII You A Question". Gamasutra.
  8. ^ a b Chirila, Alexandru (Jan 26, 2015). "Download SanctuaryRPG". Softpedia.

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