No Rest for the Wicked (NRftW) graces Game Informer’s cover this month, and it marks a dramatic shift for Moon Studios for several reasons. For one, it’s an action RPG from the team that gave us two of the best platformers/Metroidvanias ever in Ori and the Blind Forest and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. You can read all about what the game entails in our digital issue, which is available now. But another huge shift is that NRftW will first launch into Steam Early Access on April 18. 

That means everything revealed about the game so far is subject to change depending on player feedback. Moon says it’s not married to any system and is willing to rework something if the community doesn’t enjoy it. 

This is Moon’s first stab at the early access approach, and for a studio that strives for perfection, releasing an intentionally imperfect product for the world to pick apart is a drastic shift. But it also allows Moon to practice what it preaches regarding transparency. 

In February 2021, Mahler famously criticized the game industry on ResetEra for how certain studios misrepresent their titles by making them appear bigger or grander pre-release than how they eventually turn out. He called out titles such as Cyberpunk 2077.

When I ask if his sentiments inspired the choice for early access, Korol says no and that Moon originally envisioned releasing NRftW as a traditional finished product. But midway through development, the project’s ambition, the changing attitudes towards early access, as well as growing success stories, made the release model more attractive and sensible for ensuring a quality final product. And for something as idea-laden as NRftW is for Moon, having players help guide and refine its development is invaluable. 

“Making a game, it’s almost a little bit like cooking, right?” says Mahler. “Like, you don’t know what is the exact right recipe. You have to make it, let people try it, adjust it.””

Last week’s Wicked Inside presentation saw the team reveal NRftW’s early access roadmap (posted below). Multiplayer will arrive in the game’s first update. As the game evolves, new story chapters will be added alongside more areas of the world. The early access launch includes a substantial section of Isola Sacra, with players able to visit the following zones:

  • The Shallows
  • Orban Glades
  • Sacrament
  • Nameless Pass
  • The Black Trench

The game’s first story update will unlock three more areas:

  • Marin Woods
  • Lowland Meadows
  • Hunter’s Vale

Expect to learn more about those zones in the future. Having seen the full map of Isola Sacra myself, the island looks huge and dense, and that’s without including unseen elements like interiors, caves, and secrets. 

Click to enlarge

ENDGAME CONTENT

As for how Moon plans to keep players coming back to NRftW on the road to its 1.0 launch, it divulged that its endgame content will consist of multiple things to do instead of just a single activity loop. Speaking with Mahler on the subject, the one piece of content he shared is special roguelike dungeons called Cerim’s Crucible (formerly known by their working name “Crypts”). Accessible only after players have wrapped up the available campaign content in the early access build, entering Cerim’s Crucible involves visiting a special zone surrounded by several statues. 

Approaching one of them and offering your blood activates that particular statue, which warps players into a randomized dungeon crawl and tasks you to get through 10 randomized rooms to reach the end. Mahler says this structure is inspired by Diablo 1’s Dungeon, in which players fought through 16 increasingly difficult levels to face Diablo at the end. Only one statue is available for the early access launch, but more will be added over time. Each statue will take players into different sets of rooms. 

In addition to Diablo, Mahler compares the Crucible’s structure to that of Hades in that each room offers a specific, randomized challenge, which could focus on platforming, combat, or puzzle-solving. You never know what enemies will spawn each run, either. As for what awaits players at the end of the Crucible, Moon is keeping that surprise close to the vest. 

Completing Cerim’s Crucible rewards special, exclusive loot and materials required to craft more advanced upgrades, creating incentives to tackle them repeatedly if you want to build the most powerful version of your character. Like everything else, the loot is randomized, so different runs result in different rewards. Eventually, Moon intends to implement stipulations (such as, perhaps, exploring naked) and multipliers to Crucible statues in exchange for greater loot. 

You can learn more about No Rest for the Wicked by checking out our features and videos rolling out over the coming weeks in our exclusive coverage hub below. 



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