Now that February is upon us, it is time for another installment of Games to Get Excited About. We’re looking at another upcoming game that may not be on your radar and running down some of the notable releases for February. February is usually a slim release month but with a slate of 1st Quarter Japanese game releases and the Nintendo Switch looming on the horizon, the release calendar in 2017 just isn’t letting up.
The Dark Souls series, along with its predecesor Demon’s Souls and spiritual successor Bloodborne have popularized a design ethos that has begun to inspire other developers to try their own hands at it. An emphasis on difficulty which demands patience and skill to master, winding levels to punish the unwary and reward the observant, and an experience system which turns every step into the unknown into a pull of risk versus reward. This formula has inspired straight copies such as Lords of the Fallen, been adapted into character action such as Team Ninja’s upcoming Nioh, and even found its way into 2d exploration heavy games like Souls series and metroidvania homage Salt & Sanctuary. The next upcoming game to try to put a new perspective on this style of game is our spotlight game of the month.
EITR is an upcoming action-RPG from two-person developer Eneme Entertainment. It harkens back to the old school dungeon crawlers like Diablo with its locked isometric perspective and recalls an era of 16-bit graphics while pushing sprite-work that is more detailed and intricate than anything possible from that era. While the aesthetics are pure nostalgia, the game design itself promises to hew close to the Souls formula, with a focus on varied enemy types that challenge players to choose the right play style for each encounter and punishing bosses that demand that their attack patterns be learned and test the players reflexes.
Why We’re Excited
EITR trades the Gothic fantasy trappings of Dark Souls and the Lovcraftian Victorian fever dream of Bloodborne for a dark adventure drenched in Norse mythology. In EITR players take the role of a Viking shield maiden as she tries to discover the source of a corrupting plague that is marching across the land. She will face undead warriors as well as more monstrous corrupted horrors. The story will be told through interactions with NPCs and the lore that can be pieced together through item descriptions and exploring the nooks and crannies of the game’s world. The game looks simply incredible in motion and we hope that it will manage to hit the tightly tuned sweet spot of difficulty and mastery that makes this style of game such a joy to play.
EITR is taking quite a few pages from the Souls design book, but it is turning a few of them in interesting way. Whereas in the Souls series character stats are king, in EITR a greater emphasis is put on the stats and special abilities of your equipment. This makes the Diablo style random loot more of a draw. Another departure from Souls is the way that experience is handled. In the Souls series and many of its imitators, you lose your Experience Points (souls) if you die, and must try to get back to the place you died in order to reclaim them. If you die again before you claim them, they are gone forever. In EITR, you do not gain Experience Points for killing enemies. Instead, you gain Favor Points for completing milestones in the story. Favor Points give you a bonus to damage and defense and make the game more survivable. The trick is, if you die while holding a Favor Point, it’s gone for good. If you want to keep a bonus from the Favor point, you can spend it to increase a stat of your choice by one point permanently. Do you risk losing the buff and give yourself an edge in the coming fights or do you spend it to give yourself a permanent but less powerful power up? Hopefully the game can live up to the series that inspired it while putting its own mark on the sub-genre.
EITR is currently slated to release on the PC, Mac, and PS4 sometime in 2017. Updates can be followed on Twitter @EitrTheGame or EitrTheGame on Facebook or Tumblr.
Notable February Releases
Nioh – Speaking of games with a Souls influence, this month sees the release of Team Ninja’s return to character action, Nioh! Nioh is a Japanese flavored game that marries the design ethos and progression systems of Dark Souls with the technical depth of games like Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry. The game began development all the way back in 2004 (!) and has undergone multiple restarts and revisions to finally become the game that is releasing this month. I have played the pre-release Alpha, Beta, and last chance demo and I found the game to be incredibly satisfying. I can’t wait to try the full release.
For Honor – The two previous games looked at Vikings and Samurai. The next game, For Honor, pits them against each other in battle and throws in Medieval Knights for good measure. For Honor is a multi-player focused action game that sees players playing in team based skirmishes as these factions fight it out. The game will also feature a single player campaign but early previews make it clear that the meat of this experience is in the online play.
Halo Wars 2 – Halo Wars became a cult classic following its release on the XBox 360 in 2009. It traded the first person perspective of Master Chief for a pulled out Real Time Strategy game. Now the sequel is arriving on XBox One to continue the story of the first game. The game has been developed by Creative Assembly, the developers behind the well loved Total War series.
Horizon: Zero Dawn – Horizon: Zero Dawn is a new game and new IP from Killzone developers Guerrilla Games. The PS4 exclusive is an action RPG set in a world where humanity has regressed to primitive technology after a civilization destroying calamity and huge robotic beasts now roam the land. Players will need to hunt, craft, hack, and sneak to upgrade their abilities and turn the tide in battles against both human opponents and mechanical monstrosities. Sony clearly hopes that Horizon will become a flagship title and has been pushing the game as a technical showcase for the recently release PS4 Pro.