Godot possessed the qualities I was looking for:
- An easy on-board ramp to coding
- Appealing features
- Positive momentum
- Visually beautiful output
I found a great YouTube evaluation of the different game engines that helped me navigate my choice.
I decided against GDevelop as it is very platformer-ish and did not have attractive outputs based on what I saw. On Itch.io games made by GDevelop had only 9 Strategy and 18 RPGs in contrast to Godot which had 171 Strategy and 158 RPGs. GDevelop has been in development since 2008 while Godot was initially released in 2014. GDevelop does not feel very serious to me.
At the opposite end of the spectrum of seriousness, I decided to not pick Unreal because I see it as too advanced for Heropath as a first project. I’m sticking to 2D to start and adopting a complex and powerful 3D graphics and physics engine really feels like overkill.
I am going to keep Unity as a backup option to Godot. It has some gorgeous games and has lots of learning resources out there. It actually feels a bit overwhelming with all of the options and a few people on Twitter have posted Unity breaking-itself-issues that have come up for them. In contrast Godot appears to have lots of enthusiasm which is not surprising as it does some things better than Unity, is Open Source, and being smaller means it has room to grow.
My plan is now to install Godot and begin getting acquainted with its interface and start developing Heropath with it.