Battlecursed – Preview
If you have ever had a shirt or dress altered and the stitching is horrendously visible, you will understand my feelings about Battlecursed.
The ideas are there – a tactical action-RPG that plays like a first-person shooter, randomly generates levels, and lets you customise your character’s gear and abilities on the fly. All of those things are big ticks and I am there. With bells on. Blowing a vuvuzela heralding the victory of imagination and ingenuity. Even better is that I’m not the only one either excited by this blend of game modes and genres – Battlecursed received an Honourable Mention at GDC 2017’s Best In Play. Codex Worlds has a great premise in their pocket.
In entering the game, there are additional side-components to play with as well that would satisfy a range of gameplay priorities. Gameplay rewards you with ways to improve the town, customise your characters, recruit other characters, participate in challenges, and earn achievements. While none of these were available in the version played, they sound like amazing plans.
However, when premise transforms into the product, there is very little to enjoy.
There are aspects that play well, but the issue with Battlecursed is the issue of the poorly-altered dress – all of its threads are visible and easily tugged in the game environment. One tug on the yarn and the inner workings are too visible, killing the immersion that Codex Worlds are seeking from the first-person perspective. Unfortunately, there are just a lot of threads, but I have listed some of the minor irks that consolidated into a giant glob of weariness.
The first things I noticed was the depleting health bar rounding to 4 decimal places, resulting in text that sometimes appears outside of the confines of your characters’ information avatars (the decimals also show up when using healing items). A “55-damage” hit to a rat may kill one rat but not kill an identical rat – this is rationalised by a character’s active feat, but I wondered if it was a result of erroneous rounding up or down of an attack on a creature. There is no avenue during the demo to return to the title screen – once you start the dungeon run, you must either complete or quit out of the game entirely. Information about character skills is cut off by the template being used. A large majority of this release is “not functional”, which is to be expected, but it is poorly signposted in the bottom centre of the screen. For some odd reason, every level started with my camera pointed directly at the ceiling. Most infuriating was that a few ‘not functional’ areas had template content that just “blahs” through the template.
These are aspects that require some more polish before final release, needed some information populated before the demo was circulated, or perhaps should have been turned off during the alpha and beta release until they were truly ready.
None of these are game-breaking, but they thwart the enjoyment and result in a passable first impression. Without that initial care, it seems that Codex Worlds will have a bigger task to not only hone the game for release but to also reverse some of that initial reaction. It is an interesting lesson learned, and I can only hope that the final release in Q3 2018 will provide a great indie title for our Steam libraries.
When Sarah was young, her brother complained that she “got through that final level of Super Mario World on a fluke.” Refining this skill, Sarah has continued to be successful purely by accident. Follow her on Twitter at @essieteric.