The Therian Saga uses an energy pool, but it is not the only source of activity. You can combat monsters, trade, and roleplay as well. I've run out of energy a few times, but it was almost always timed to my break or when I was going to bed for the night. I would put my character to sleep, queue up several activities, and wake up to find a refreshed -- and wiser -- character waiting for me. Of course, you can buy items that refill your energy in case you didn't want to wait, but paying for a few new character slots prevents you from running out of things to do. Think of it as being like EVE Online in some ways: Maintaining different characters is a good way to stay active.
Moving across the map is simple enough. You click on the ground and choose what you want to do. You can travel to the location, explore the location (spend an amount of real time and look for any number of things), or camp there (create a camp that you can perform different tasks from). Movement takes real time, meaning that if you want to walk across the land, it will take you some time. You can't just tap on an area of the world and walk there, being that your character has to be skilled in the specific types of terrain in order to do so. There are hints in game that lead players to believe that there will one day be air and water travel, but for now, travel is a matter of deciding where to go and watching or waiting as the character makes her way there. So far most of the content I've been exploring is kept within a relatively small area, so travel has not become an issue.
Combat in The Therian Saga appears very simple, at least in the lower levels. When a player enters a dungeon or other combat situation, he will automatically be brought to a screen where he can choose which characters will fight. As of right now, there is no multiplayer combat, but if a player is hosting a combat-skilled companion, that companion will aid in the battle. You simply drag the members of your party to a creature and attack, and the game works out the turn, depending on your skills and equipment.
Players can duel each other or fight in an arena, and there are promises that the game will open up combat options later. Combat is interesting, but it's not the main reason to play the game. There is even talk about political battles coming later on in development. Personally, I love the balance that the game strikes between combat and everything else. Fighting in an MMO should be slow and dangerous, and up to this point, I have found only a few MMOs (like some MUDs, for example) that make combat feel appropriately dangerous.
The developers use a golden shield as an example. A player might need to slowly raise her skill until she can create the basic shield, but she can add unique materials and use specific tools while crafting and can come out with a golden shield. Sure, it might not provide much protection, but it will bring a lot of prestige! That's a very simplified example, but so far the crafting at even basic levels is a lot of fun.
The map in The Therian Saga is so nice (I'm a map nerd!). I love a map that looks and feels inviting. Scrolling in and out of the map is seamless, making me think that if the game continues to grow, we will someday see the rest of the map open up. Many MMOs do not utilize the mystery of the map very well. There is no speedy travel in the game (although there are some skills that might be used in travelling by air and water later on), and a player cannot simply walk wherever he chooses. There are stats to consider: Is your plains level high enough to allow you long distance travel? Can you make it through the hills or the mountains?
I have just started with The Therian Saga and already I am hooked. Maybe that's because of its newness or its inviting artwork and sound, and it's very possible that one day the game will become a repetitive drag. This is always possible with any title. There's something very special about The Therian Saga, however, and it really scratches an itch I've had for a semi-AFK MMO that can be played as much or as little as I want.
My press account did come with special cash-shop goodies for testing purposes, including maxed character slots and extra bags. You can buy cash-shop funds with in-game gold; it will just take you much longer. I found that the cash shop is not overly expensive on the whole, and I know I'll put a few bucks into the game in appreciation for the fun I've had so far.
Interested? Sign up and play the game for free at the official site.
Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.