Here Doesn’t Come BioWare’s SHADOW REALMS

The RPG giant's Austin studio will now focus on STAR WARS, DRAGON AGE, and MASS EFFECT instead.

When BioWare announced Shadow Realms, they did so with a splash. A bizarre and likely expensive live-action promotional campaign heralded a Gamescom announcement of the five-player asymmetrical role-playing game, built by BioWare Austin and intended to bring tabletop RPG gameplay dynamics to online multiplayer.

I hope you didn't get too excited, though, because a scant six months after the big announcement, the game has been cancelled. Not delayed; not downscaled; cancelled. No concrete reasons have been given, but the Austin studio will now work on Dragon Age and Mass Effect material, as well as Star Wars: The Old Republic, presumably ramping up for a The Force Awakens-related content explosion. New IP is also cited as a priority for the studio, though hopefully it won't meet the same fate as the last such material.

To be fair, reaction to Shadow Realms was somewhat muted, which can often happen when a studio known for franchise titles puts out an original IP. I thought it sounded pretty cool - four players crawl through a dungeon while a fifth plays the role of dungeon master, spawning enemies, laying traps, and controlling bosses to hinder the heroes' progress. It all sounded very similar to Descent: Journeys in the Dark, a tabletop game I love dearly. But people reacted incredulously to this unfamiliar IP. The setting looks silly, they said. What even is this, they said. I crave more games like the ones I've played before, they said. Never mind that the company's other titles (which feature talking sea anemones and literal, corporeal gods) were original once, or that most people hadn't played the game before criticising it. Now, nobody will get to play it.

Perhaps it's for the best, though. If my attempts at organising games of Descent are anything to go by, I'd probably struggle to find four friends who were all available to play at the same time anyway, and spend my evenings crying myself to sleep out of sheer loneliness instead.