Warlocks: Hands-On

 

Warlocks is a promising looking Kickstarter; it even has a promising demo available as well. They also had an Alpha build that I was lucky enough to have a go with. It’s more or less a 2D action brawler that is quite heavily influenced by Risk of Rain. It has multiple unique characters, each with unique skills and fighting styles. It’s also programmed by a guy with no arms; so he has to program with his feet. Its inspirational that it hasn’t stopped him from being as good as he is at it and for the voyeurs out there, you can see him typing in the Kickstarter video.

It still early days – hence it being an Alpha – but what is there is reasonably fun and shows lot of promise. Each level has enemies spawn in waves which just constantly assault until you kill them all – or you die. Once the waves have been depleted, you go onto the next level. Then there are bosses; or, more accurately, just the one boss in the Alpha. It took me a long time to get that far with one character, mostly because I was dying over and over again on one of the levels. Even though you can level up to ease the difficulty, the battles do get rather repetitive and the flying ranged monsters do add to the frustration as they are quite difficult to dodge when the enemies begin to swarm you en masse.

Dying over and over again became something that I got used to, and being able to keep levels earned through play even after dying kept me feeling like I was able to achieve something. It’s a nice way of having any time with the game feel like it’s rewarding you; hopefully it’s something that will work its way into the full game too.

At the moment some of the characters lack the damage or precision to be fun – these are the characters that have no “rapid” attacks. It makes them feel sluggish and lumbering; they hit hard, but the other characters do too and have a more active attack pattern. There is more diversity in the characters’ skillsets than almost any other game in that genre. As most of them don’t possess “regular” highly spammable attacks, everything is based off their own array of skills – each with a small cooldown. Because of their high variety, you’re unlikely to find all the characters fun to play. Of the six that were playable I only enjoyed playing half of them, one I was only just able to be apathetic to, and the other two felt hugely lacking – but they both seem to be geared for co-op more than singleplayer. It might sound bad, but the fact I disliked playing them means that they are different enough to not use the usual homogeneous gameplay for characters that most games use.

The Ice Mistress Anya was by far the most fun for me. She unsurprisingly utilises ice in her attacks, but each spell that hits an enemy leaves them with a cold debuff that stacks. It slows enemies down but one of your spells shatters the ice that ails them, dealing a sizable portion of damage. Also the best bit is she has an ice slide skill that debuffs enemies it passes through. It deals no damage but it looks really cool, and allows you to dart around the battlefield and constantly shatter debuffs.

The Fallen Angel is the boss I got a chance to prove myself against and the first time I fought it I died pretty horrendously. Second time round I beat it, as it was very telegraphed with all of its attacks and it was fairly easy to dodge everything once I knew the patterns. It was actually a rather simple boss to fight, but that was also because of the Ice Mistress being really good at using its low range against it.

The controls seem quite responsive, but what I found to be quite jarring was the lack of being able to walk backwards. It’s only really something that feels off when you’re playing as a ranged character (of which there are many) but it makes you feel a lot less mobile when you want to fire off your ranged shots while also keeping your distance. Also, with the game already being controller compatible (my preferred choice), I can understand it being difficult to apply all the keyboard buttons to work efficiently on it; but it’s still a little weird how it’s all mapped out on there.

It’s clearly not anywhere near finished but it’s a pretty solid start. The browser based demo gives you a better look at higher level characters so you can judge the idea of the game yourself in a more personal way. Hopefully it’ll meet its goals but if not then, if we’re lucky, it’ll hit Steam Early Access through Greenlight.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I've done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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