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Games to Get Excited About – February 2017

Games to Get Excited About – February 2017

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

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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 tradeseitr-2 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 Pointeitr-3, 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, NiohNioh 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.

Games to Get Excited About – January 2017

Happy New Year and welcome to the first installment of Games to Get Excited About for 2017! Later in the article we’ll take a look at some of the exciting games coming out in January (including last month’s featured title Gravity Rush 2) but first we’re going to look a little further out for our spotlight title.

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Fallen Legion

Fallen Legion is an upcoming action RPG from developer Mintsphere. At first glance Fallen Legion calls to mind the works of Vanillaware with its rich color palette and hand drawn art style. In practice, however, the game has more in common with the classic Valkyrie Profile series while adding new wrinkles of its own. Fallen Legion puts players in the role of a Princess who has recently assumed the throne of an empire on the verge of collapse.

In each level, the Princess will be joined by three other party members and each character is mapped to a face button. The party will proceed through levels automatically, stopping to enter battle as they encounter enemies. Once in combat, players will queue up attacks for each character to build combos and exploit openings in their enemies’ defenses while managing their actions to block and counter the enemies’ own attacks. Players will also have access to spells and special moves to add variety and strategy to the battles as they make their way through the game’s levels.

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Why We’re Excited

The battles are only half of what makes Fallen Legion interesting. During levels, players will be asked to make decisions that will affect both the story and the play of the current level. The choices will ask players to balance short term buffs with the long term health of their Empire and can affect available characters, faction allegiances, and even the loyalty of their characters. Each decision only gives the players 10 seconds to decide and the results are permanent.

As a fan of the Valkyrie Profile games, I am very excited to see a new iteration on the style of RPG, and I also love games that ask me to make hard choices and live with the consequences. Hopefully this game will strike the balance between exciting, challenging combat and tense strategic decision making. I’m also a huge fan of the art style and I’m always happy to see new games with hand drawn art. Hopefully this game will be worth the wait when it launches later this year.

A note on versions:

Fallen Legion is currently slated for release on the PS4 and PS Vita. Mistsphere has confirmed that the Vita version will not be a simple port but will instead tell a unique story from the perspective of another character fighting for control of the Empire and will feature its own story scenarios and encounters. Both versions are slated for digital release sometime in 2017. Limited Run Games has confirmed that they will be offering a physical version of both the PS4 and PS Vita versions.

Notable January Releases

Normally January is pretty dead in the water as far as releases go, but a number of high profile Japanese games will be coming out this month in the US.

Resident Evil 7 –  Capcom’s venerable survival horror franchise returns this month with Resident Evil 7. For the past few years the franchise has become overloaded with spin-offs, ports, and and inconsistent main-line entries that have leaned more and more on action mechanics instead of horror. Resident Evil 7 aims to return the series to its roots by focusing on more atmospheric dread and claustrophobic environments.

Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star – The Fate/ series began over a decade ago as a visual novel and now encompasses over a half-dozen anime series and movies as well as visual novel sequels, prequels, and spin-off stories. It has also been spun into a number of RPGs and other games. Fate/Extella is a spin off in the Fate/Extra series and will be the first action game in the meta-series. Extella will allow players to choose from 16 characters including series favorites and new faces in the next iteration of the Holy Grail War. The new game will feature gameplay inspired by the long running Dynasty Warriors series and its many spin offs.

Tales of Berseria – The next installment of the Tales of series comes to America this January. Tales of Berseria switches things up by removing the multiple party members of the previous games to focus on a single heroine in intense action-RPG battles. The Tales of series is well known for its anime inspired visuals and deep game play. Hopefully this next installment will prove worthy of its lineage.

Games to Get Excited About – December 2016

Hello and welcome to our final installment of Games to Get Excited About for 2016. Of course, its December, so most of the high profile releases for the year have already released and a number of titles that I would have used this feature to talk about have been delayed into 2017. So, since I already wrote about The Last Guardian (no, I can’t believe its finally coming out either), we’ll be taking a look at a release coming early in the new year…

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Gravity Rush 2

Gravity Rush 2 is (surprise!) the sequel to Gravity Rush, or Gravity Daze if you prefer the original Japanese title. You may have heard of the original game but it honestly wouldn’t be too surprising if you hadn’t. It was a flagship release for Sony’s ill-fated PlayStation Vita handheld and it was an ambitious attempt to show what the system could do with an open-world style game. The game put players in the shoes of Kat, an amnesiac who wakes up in a strange city that hangs suspended in the sky from the trunk of a massive tree.

Before long, Kat discovers that she is a “shifter,” a person with the ability to manipulate gravity, and sets about helping the citizens of the city fight monsters, complete tasks, and repair the damage caused by increasingly frequent gravity storms. The game was fairly popular on the Vita, but didn’t make much of a splash in the wider consciousness. Earlier this year the game was remastered and re-released on the Playstation 4, hoping to find a wider audience before the sequel releases.

Why are we excited?

The first Gravity Rush had a fantastic visual style inspired by French nouveau comics and a gameplay loop focuses on using gravity to fling yourself and your enemies around massive floating environments. It was charming and inventive, if a bit rough around the edges. Even when re-released on the Playstation 4 it was obvious that the game had been created for less powerful hardware and some of the maps could seem sparsely populated. The sequel has been created specifically for the Playstation 4 and is taking advantage of the bump in horsepower to create larger, more detailed, more dynamic environments.

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In addition to making the game larger and more detailed, the developers claim they are tuning up the combat, which was a weak point in the original game. Hopefully the sequel will offer more dynamic encounters and more varied enemy designs. As a fan of the first game, I hope that the sequel retains the charm and inventiveness of the first title while refining its formula and smoothing out some of its rough edges such as imprecise combat and a meandering story.

Gravity Rush 2 is currently slated to release in January 2017 on PS4.

Notable December Releases

As noted in the introduction, things are pretty thin on the ground this month. There are a few notable ports but only two new releases are on my radar.

Warhammer 40K Space Hulk: Deathwing

There have been a lot of games released under the Warhammer and Warhammer 40K names over the past few years but this one looks like it might be a standout. It is based on the classic Space Hulk board game and puts an emphasis on gorgeous visuals and frantic action. The game is a first person shooter and will release in December for the PC with console ports to follow next year.

Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero

This is the 4th game in the Shantae series which began back on the Gameboy Color. It was launched as a successful Kickstarter and will be the first game in the series to see simultaneous release across multiple handheld and home platforms. The Shantae games have carved out a niche as solid Metroid-style platformers with a fun art style and cast. Here’s hoping the newest entry lives up to the pedigree of the previous titles.

Games to Get Excited About: November 2016

by Michael Wells

November is here with the usual flood of new releases. Here’s an in-depth look at one upcoming title we’re excited about and a rundown of notable releases in the coming month.

2016 is seeing the release of two games that have been in development for so long that you would be forgiven for assuming they would never actually come out. One is Final Fantasy XV, the much anticipated new entry in Square Enix’s cultural juggernaut of a series that was first announced as Final Fantasy Versus XIII all the way back in 2006. The other is…

The Last Guardian

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The Last Guardian has been a fixture on vaporware lists for years. The game was originally announced as a PS3 exclusive at E3 in 2009. Even at the time of its announcement it had already been in development for 2 years. The Last Guardian generated a lot of buzz because it was the next, and possibly final, game from Fumito Ueda. Ueda is best known for his previous two games, the cult classics Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Both games are known for their minimalist presentation and stark, beautiful visuals.

The Last Guardian showed a young boy protagonist and a large fantastic creature that seemed like something between a bird, a cat, and a deer. The boy seems reminiscent of the protagonist of Ico and a focus on working with a companion to move through the game evokes that earlier title. The creature was incredibly detailed for the time and promised to push the graphical capabilities of the PS3. The original release window came and went and news of the game slowly dwindled to a trickle. Most of it was rumors and most of the rumors were bad.

Members of the team left to pursue other projects, Ueda himself stepped down to become a creative consultant, and the press began to speculate that Sony had quietly canned the project. Despite the rumors, Sony continued to insist that the game was being developed and that it would be worth the wait. Still, with each year that passed with no news, a release for the troubled title seemed less and less likely. Had it been too ambitious? Was the detailed model and complex behavior for the creature too much of a technical hurdle to overcome? Even if it was possible, could the aging PS3 hardware handle a game that lived up to the original vision?

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In 2015, Sony brought The Last Guardian back to E3 and announced that it would be released in the 4th quarter of 2016. It joined other long awaited announcements such as Shenmue 3 and the Final Fantasy VII remake. As we approach the game’s release date, details remain scarce but there is no denying that the game looks striking and very much in the spirit of its forbears.

The game still seems to be an adventure game that keeps the austere and crumbling environments of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. The protagonist must work together with the creature that the development team has tried to model realistic animal behavior for. This means that players should be able to entice it with food, sooth it when it is frightened, and care for it when it is hurt. The central goal of the game is to forge an emotional attachment to the creature.

Skepticism is warranted for any project with a history as long and troubled as The Last Guardian. The questions that plagued it throughout its development remain relevant even as the game nears release. With that said, I have been waiting for this game for eight years and I love Ueda’s previous work. I am glad that the wait is nearly over. The Last Guardian is currently scheduled to release December 6, 2016 in North America, exclusively for the PS4.

Notable November Releases:

Call of Duty Infinite Warfare

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Infinite Warfare is certainly shaping up to be one of the most contentious entries in Activision’s Call of Duty series. The title doubles down on the sci-fi themes the series has been trending towards and introduces space ships, dog fighting, and battles in zer0-G. Some fans of the series are disappointed at the direction taken by these once fairly realistic games while others are excited by the change of pace. Activision has also stirred up controversy by packing in a remaster of the first Modern Warfare game that will only be available to gamers who purchase the new title. Love it or hate it, CoD is likely to be another huge sales success this holiday season.

Watch Dogs 2

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The first Watch Dogs rode a wave of hype and excitement to a resounding “meh” on release. What had promised to be a freewheeling open world title with strange and interesting hacking abilities that affected your environment ended up being another also-ran Grand Theft Auto clone with a humorless plot and an unlikable main character. The developers have decided to take another crack at the concept, moving the action to the more colorful and interesting San Francisco and introducing a new main character that promises to at least have something like a personality. We’ll be waiting for reviews to see if the second time is the charm for this one.

Pokemon Sun and Moon

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Pokemon is back! You probably didn’t need me to tell you that. The first and by far the largest monster fighting and collecting game returns for its seventh generation with Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon. This time the games are set in the tropical Alola region and Game Freak has cooked up another batch of weird and wonderful creatures to go catch. If you want a taste before the game releases, there is currently a demo available on the Nintendo e-Shop.

Final Fantasy XV

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Here it is, the other game that seemed like it might just never come out. Final Fantasy XV has gone through a lot of changes in the decade since it was announced. Much like The Last Guardian rumors have followed its troubled development almost from the start. There have been two demos available for the game, and if those are any indication the game feels like a fusion of things that feel undeniably connected to the series’ roots with other elements that can seem almost jarringly out of place. Soon we’ll be able to see if Square Enix managed to pull it off. Here’s hoping it won’t be another decade until the next one.

 

Games to Get Excited About – October 2016

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by Michael Wells

Welcome back to another installment of Games to Get Excited About. For a few months now, we’ve been playing around with the format of this column but now that I’m taking it over for the foreseeable future, I’ve decided on a hybrid approach. Each month I’m going to call out an upcoming game that I think is worthy of attention and give a detailed preview of why I think it may be worth paying attention to. After that, I’ll give a brief rundown of any notable releases coming in the month ahead.

So, without further ado, let’s get to it!

Dishonored 2

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Spoiler Warning: This entry discusses the plot and characters of the first Dishonored

Dishonored 2 is the sequel to the 2012 stealth action game Dishonored. Dishonored was a critical success and ended up being a bit of a surprise hit for publisher Bethesda and developer Arkane Studios. After four years Arkane is back with a sequel and is hoping that gamers are going to be up for another trip to the Empire of the Isles.

The wronged Imperial bodyguard of the first game, Corvo Attano, returns as one of two playable characters in the sequel. Players can now choose to experience the story through Corvo’s eyes or through the eyes of his daughter, Empress Emily Kaldwin. Though the levels they explore will be the same, the two characters have different abilities and powers, meaning that they may approach challenges very differently.

So, what’s worth getting excited about? Well, let’s talk about what made the first game so good.

Superb Level Design

A great deal has been written about a particular level in Dishonored. In fact, as soon as I mentioned the game, I’m betting a few readers thought to themselves, “Dishonored, that’s the game with the party, right?” The fourth level of the game, “Lady Boyle’s Last Party,” is often brought up in discussions about truly great gaming levels. It’s easy to see why, too. The level is novel, takes place in an intricately designed space that incorporates not just a mansion but the quarantined streets around it. Players make their way to the party only to discover that it is a masquerade party and they have no need to skulk around as their mask allows them to fit right in.

The level is cheeky, full of sly character moments, and offers a number of ways to dispatch your target. Like the best levels in immersive sims such as Deus Ex, it is full of little discoveries that make you realize that you could have approached your mission in a completely different way and encourages you to play through again to experiment. What I think a lot of people miss though, in their, rush to praise “Lady Boyle’s Last Party,” is that almost every level in the game is as good. They play with your expectations, let you get familiar with the various powers and tools at your disposal, and surprise you by letting you discover how all the pieces fit together.

The thing that I like best about the level design in Dishonored is the way that levels help to tell the story. “The Flooded District” takes place at a time when, as a character, Corvo has been betrayed and left for dead. The level is very long and keeps up a sense of being unprepared in hostile territory. As you scrounge for tools and elixirs you fall into a mindset of desperation which feels like a mirror for what the character must be going through. Later, you return to an area that was previously the game’s mission hub to find it crawling with enemies. Your familiarity with the space and all of its hidden nooks and crannies lets you feel like a canny predator even in the face of overwhelming numbers. It takes what is a moment of triumphant return for the character and makes you, the player, feel powerful and in control.

A Fascinating World

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Dishonored takes place in the fantastical city of Dunwall. Dunwall imagines a place where the early excesses of the Industrial Revolution met the horrors of commercial whaling. It is a grim place but it feels fully realized. In both the broad strokes and tiny details Dunwall sucks you in and invites you to discover more of its beauty and depravity. The second game is taking us to a different region of the game’s world. I am hopeful that it will be just as fascinating and intricate as Dunwall.

DLC Done Right

DLC is a sore spot for many gamers but I think that Arkane really got it right for Dishonored. Dishonored has two pieces of story DLC, “The Knife of Dunwall,” and “The Brigmore Witches.” Rather than continue the story of Corvo, the DLC campaign puts you in the roll of one of the game’s antagonists, the assassin Daud. The DLC features all new levels which continue to play with design ideas and new challenges, building on the work of the base game. The DLC campaign also gives Daud a voice as opposed to the mute Corvo. Not only was the DLC and great value, offering another full game’s worth of levels, it also was clear that Arkane was still being incredibly ambitious about what they could do with the Dishonored formula.

More of a Good Thing

Dishonored 2 has some large shoes to fill. Not only is it the follow up to a very impressive title, it’s coming out when gamers are growing increasingly jaded about pre-release hype and developer promises. The information that Arkane has shared so far makes it seem that they paid a lot of attention to how players approached the previous game and want to expand on the elements that players enjoyed. Many players in the first game decided to play the game without using any of Corvo’s supernatural powers. When Arkane saw how popular that play-style was with the player base, they decided to add a specific no powers mode to Dishonored 2 which players can select at the beginning of the game.

In the end, my hope is that Arkane has continued to refine and polish the Dishonored formula just as they did with the first game’s DLC. If they have, and if they have managed to transition to the the new generation of gaming hardware, then Dishonored 2 could be something very special. Dishonored 2 is currently scheduled to release November 11 in North America for the PC, PS4, and XBO.

Notable October Releases:

0dac02915226b21c1fe9dea6c48d4b21_248_krDragon Quest Builders

A number of games have tried to capture a bit of Minecraft’s success over the past few years. One of the more high profile attempts is Square Enix’s Dragon Quest Builders. The game takes the familiar monsters and characters of the Dragon Quest series and plops them down in a world of blocky landscapes that will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s ever been in the same room as Minecraft. Impressions from the game’s Japanese release were generally positive so I am thinking about giving this a try.

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The Paper Mario series makes its debut on the Wii U late in the system’s life cycle. Paper Mario games have gone through a lot of changes through the years and Color Splash seems to mostly follow in the design footsteps of 3DS series entry Paper Mario Sticker StarSticker Star was a divisive entry in the franchise so Color Splash may not be a slam dunk recommendation. Still, it promises to have some great art and the zany writing that has been a hallmark of the series since the beginning. If you’re a fan and you own a Wii U, Color Splash might be worth checking out.

3125647-playstationvrPlaystation VR

Ok, so this one isn’t a game. The consumer VR revolution continues in October with the Playstation VR. The price tag is lower than its PC competitors but still fairly prohibitive. Preview impressions seems solid with concessions to the PS4’s weaker processing power. Like the Kinect before it, console VR will live or die based on the games that use its functionality. I’m hopeful that it turns out well but we’re going to have to see if the software support is there. Fingers crossed.

That’s it for Games to Get Excited About for October. Are you looking forward to Dishonored 2? What October release are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments.

Games to Get Excited About – September 2016

Fall may be around the corner but the weather is still hot. The holiday release calendar is also heating up, so lets take a look at some of the upcoming releases that we’re keeping an eye on. September is surprisingly full of ports of previously released games and early access releases but there are still a few promising full releases.

Steins;Gate 0

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Visual Novels are finally starting to get wide release in the West. Last year, we were finally able to get the fantastic Steins;Gate which is one of the best Visual Novels ever released. It is a twisting ride of a story that deals with both time-travel conspiracies and Tokyo’s otaku culture in ways that wind together in surprising ways. Steins;Gate 0 is a semi-sequel to the original game that explores an alternate timeline and explores ideas of Artificial Intelligence. Hopes are high that it will live up to the quality of the first game.

ReCore

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ReCore is a new IP from Keiji Inafune and team members that worked on the Metroid Prime trilogy. The game will be an exclusive for the XBOX One and it places players in the shoes of Joule, a scavenger, as she attempts to survive a ruined wasteland with the help of robot companions that she meets during her adventure. The game has an impressive pedigree and its art style offers a welcome bit of variety to the XBOX One’s lineup. Hopefully the gameplay will live up to some of the great work of its creators’ previous projects.

Destiny: Rise of Iron

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Year 3 of Destiny launches, this month with the full Rise of Iron expansion. Destiny was initially met with mixed reactions from gamers who generally praised the moment to moment gunplay but complained about the boring, stilted story and the extreme grind required to make progress on post-game gear. Developer Bungie worked to keep the community active and the second year expansion, The Taken King, was generally much better received. We are very curious to see if they have kept up the quality in the new expansion.

 

Yokai Watch 2

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Level 5’s Yokai Watch has become a cultural institution over the past few years in Japan, with sales that have even come to eclipse the juggernaut that is the Pokemon franchise. The franchise came to the US last fall. Yokai Watch did not become nearly as big in the west as it is in its home territory, but it did well enough that the next game in the series in being brought over. The Yokai Watch series draws inevitable comparisons to Pokemon, but focuses on a smaller scope stories in a single community and encourages the player to get to know the town and its inhabitants while solving problems caused by mischievous spirits. We’ll see if this iteration can pick up a larger audience than its predecessor.

 

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice

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The beloved Phoenix Wright series with Spirit of Justice. Spirit of Justice is the 6th main game in the series and will focus on both Phoenix Wright and his proteges Apollo Justice and Athena Sykes. The series is well established at this point so if you are a fan of previous installments, chances are you’ll be happy for the chance to get back into the courtroom with Phoenix. If you have never played one of these games then this might not be the best entry to jump in with.

Honorable Mentions

We normally don’t feature ports of already released games in this feature, but I would be remiss for not pointing out that Darkest Dungeon is finally releasing on Playstation consoles this month. If you’ve been salivating over this title like I have since the PC release, then know that the wait is almost over.

Note from the editor: Games to Get Excited About was delayed this month due to conflicting schedules. Please expect October’s edition of Games to Get Excited About to be on time.

 

Indie Developer Spotlight: Beneath Nexus

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Indie Developer Spotlight: Beneath Nexus

by Michael Wells

Disclosure: I am a backer of Beneath Nexus on Kickstarter. Also, while I have not worked on this specific project, I have been in discussion with Silverclutch Games to provide writing for a future project.

Silverclutch company logo

It’s time for another developer spotlight! This time around we’re talking about Silverclutch games about their upcoming release Beneath Nexus. We had a chance to talk to Tom and Chris from Silverclutch at Too Many Games in Oaks, PA (check out our convention impressions here and here) and now we’re pleased to feature them and their project on our site.

The Project:

Beneath Nexus game logo

From their website:

Beneath Nexus is a dungeon crawling card game for 4 to 6 players. Discover powerful treasures and unlock forgotten secrets in your quest to reclaim the city of Nexus. The Heroes combine their unique skills and powers to overcome the trials of The Blight Lord who uses fiendish monsters and dark magicks to destroy all who delve Beneath Nexus.

Beneath Nexus is a tabletop card game that offers an exciting roleplaying experience in a quickplay format. It is inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop RPGs and aims to recreate the feel of those games using predetermined heroes with decks of unique abilities. One player takes on the traditional GM role and plays the Blight Lord, a boss character for the other players to take on. To do so, the other players choose heroes that are drawn from traditional role-playing class archetypes and must strategize how best to use their complimentary abilities to overcome the monsters and spells that the Blight Lord arrays against them.

Beneath Nexus is currently up on Kickstarter and has nearly reached 75% of their goal at time of this writing. Take a look and consider backing this exciting project.

Developer Interview:

I sent a few questions to Silverclutch Games and Chris took some time away from their Kickstarter and Convention schedule to respond.

What made you want to get into game development?

Tom and I have both played games since early childhood. Tom developed his passion for gaming when he was introduced to Magic: the Gathering in the 3rd grade. I played the classics with my father, and he was relentless. Instead of a healthy hobby, my passion for gaming lies more so in my hunger for revenge against my dad for absolutely decimating my brother and me for years in Risk, Stratego, Checkers, and Uno. We began gaming together when Tom joined my Pathfinder RPG group when we were in college. Both of us have always been curious about how games work and have been ready to criticize any game that comes our way. We ended up making games because we knew what we wanted to play and wanted to share those ideas with our friends.
How did Silverclutch Games get started?
Silverclutch Games is a product of my desire to own my own business and Tom’s desire to create awesome games. Tom was developing an introductory dungeon crawler for a handful of months when I approached him with the idea to start our own game design business. That was June of 2015. We incorporated in August, 2015, with the plan to create accessible, easy to learn games that engage the hobbyist gamer.

 

What were your inspirations for Beneath Nexus?
Tom and I are huge fans of D&D, Dungeonworld, etc. We play roleplaying games regularly, but many of our friends can’t be bothered with the hefty rulebook and long playtimes. That bums us out! Beneath Nexus was created so that new players and casual gamers can get a taste of the fantasy adventure genre without having to do homework in the meantime.
What about Beneath Nexus is most interesting/exciting to you as a designer?
We tried a lot of different things, mechanically, with Beneath Nexus. We wanted it to be easy to learn, quick to play, and interesting for both hobbyists and newbies, so we had to experiment with a bunch of different ideas. What excited me most about the process was translating player feedback into mechanical changes. A lot of hobbyists tested the game, so their comments were very direct and specific. The casual gamers that had much more general feedback were the most fun for me because the playtesting notes became a puzzle of vague notions after a few play throughs. Tom seemed most excited by the balance of the asymmetry of the game. Making sure the Blight Lord wasn’t too weak or too strong was a huge task when we incorporated it. Tom dug into it immediately and really shined there.
Hero- Lunja
I had the chance to play two games of Beneath Nexus at Too Many Games and was very impressed by how polished and balanced the game is. A great deal of obvious care went into the design of the heroes, their abilities, and the ways that they interact with each other. Using the whole party’s abilities in just the right way to overcome a challenge feels a bit like the moment in Magic: The Gathering when the cards in your deck line up and play just right for that devastating combo. Meanwhile, the Blight Lord’s abilities and Monsters keep players on their toes and can easily punish careless or reckless play. The game looks like it is rewarding for players on either side of the table.
The game is already available in a print and play format if you want to give it a go. I can’t wait for the physical game to be released. For more information about the game and Silverclutch Games, check out the Beneath Nexus Kickstarter and their website.