Modern, capitalistic life is confusing, right? There's stuff like the internet, bills as well as things like inflation and media and that's before we even talk about social pressures. There are perks, sure, but what kind of world is this where we are slapped around the face with company and entity names like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft every day? Life was arguably easier back in the 'old days' of kings or tribes, surely? Six Ages: Lights Going Out is a fantastic example of why that's not the case, and a much-welcome third digital dive into Glorantha.
Fans of King of Dragon Pass — a must-play game, and perhaps the best examples of management, visual novel and 'consequences' in play as a genre salad — or Six Ages: Ride Like the Winds will already know what makes the series so well-loved, and so probably don't need too much of an explanation when it comes to the spirit of Six Ages: Lights Going Out. However, I will say that I think it's absolutely amazing the team have managed to squeeze Six Ages' two entries (of three planned) into those 8-9 pages of choices that you flipped through to design your tribe at the beginning of KoDP; they've done a great job, and I assume that means that the third entry will follow Heort and his recreation of society following the great darkness 1300 years before the events of the game.
That last bit might sound a bit intense, or confusing, but don't worry. You don't actually need to have any knowledge of the Glorantha RPG setting, or have played either of the other two games, in order to dive into Six Ages: Lights Going Out. In fact, weirdly you might find it a little easier if you haven't played them.
That's because Glorantha's setting is one where myths are real, magic (fueled by faith, sacrifice or general interest from magical beings) is real, spirits are real and the Gods that hold power over your fate are fickle, busy, but definitely also real. With so many things that we know of in our time as false (specifically, ancient bronze age polytheistic worship and goblin worship) being real, I've found that most people perhaps don't quite get into the right mindset to tackle A Sharp's twist on the setting.
The Glorantha setting is an exciting RPG world, but A Sharp's games instead put you in command of a tribe of barbarians trying to survive (or thrive) in that broken world full of gods, chaos and other living beings. You form a ring of elders, balance trading, exploration and emissary work with an obligation to raid and most importantly keep your tribe united, content and fed. It's harder than you'd think, and you really need to get yourself into the mindset of a tribal leader in a world where the Gods have walked the Earth and can share their magic if you're going to survive. That's the case in all three of the games so far.
But, where Six Ages: Lights Going Out is different is that, unlike King of Dragon Pass where you're reclaiming a lost land and trying to unite the tribes to combine their strength, you're instead leading the successful, historic establishment of a great tribe (Ride Like The Wind) as the world collapses around them. Gods are missing, with prayers starting to go unanswered; but the villainous evil gods of Chaos are still around, and are looking to exploit any weakness they can find. In Ride Like the Wind, the world is said to be entering a great darkness, but that doesn't even pale in comparison to what the Rams face in Lights Going Out.
That's where Lights Going Out gets you. It very quickly says to you that your goal is to survive, but it starts to give you hope that maybe survival has some sort of means or path to it beyond being the smartest tribe. Those modern challenges that I opened this review with can fool you into thinking that there's some bigger game at play here, but actually, everything is as clear-cut as it can be. You don't have to outlast your rivals, you don't have to tactfully redirect evil at other states, or even gather every single piece of rumoured regalia you hear about.
No. The way to win is to do exactly what a tribe would do in that setting: Not give into greed, not give into chaos, not give into envy, not give up faith in your gods, and not let your people starve. It's not an objective-based experience, in most cases, it's a series of tests to see which corners you'll cut (if any) and that's where Lights Going Out puts itself above the other entries in the series with its story - it thrives in offering up suggestions and distractions... are your royalist or focused on simply running a tribe? Is your rivalry bigger than preparing for a good harvest? Will you turn to spirits and other gods to try and survive, or is tradition more important?
I've just finished a 'long' game of Lights Out and already booted up my next tribe. I suspect that more people will stick with and enjoy this than did with previous titles, and rightfully so, it feels wider, deeper and features much better onboarding and reading resources than previous games. In fact, as I write this I've booted up KoDP to play again as it got me nostalgic.
If you're looking for a phenomenal choice-led narrative experience with moral and tribal management that will test you then you don't need to look any further. Download Six Ages: Lights Going Out today.