This week I got an opportunity to have a look at the early alpha edition of Warlocks. It was interesting–it had a few neat mechanics that I liked–but I did not find it to be astounding. It’s important to remember that a game cannot be judged based on its early alpha appearance, though, and I have to give credit to Warlocks where credit is due. I’d like to show you guys some of the content of Warlocks and let you guys judge for yourself, but overall it seems to be shaping up to be an extremely moderately good game.
Some of the game’s elements are pretty interesting. If I had to describe them in a way that horribly oversimplifies everything (which is how I always insist on speaking) then I would argue that Warlocks is a lot like League of Legends mixed with Super Smash Bros. (Wait, isn’t that exactly how I describe Awesomenauts?) It involves, as one might have figured from the description, using four abilities and blowing enemies to smithereens with those abilities while leveling them up every time your character hits a certain number of experience points. In addition, the game featured a simple shop system where you could sell loot or buy stuff that’s obviously worse than the stuff you picked up from killing enemies.
The game has a diverse set of characters to choose from, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they’re not all exact cookie cutters of each other. Mind you, though they aren’t cookie cutter versions of each other, the characters all have similar abilities (Most often a ranged ability, a ‘blink’, an area of effect attack, and a heal). I chalked up the similarities in character design to the fact that the game is still fairly early in its development, and I hope to see the characters fleshed out more as time goes on. Nonetheless, the characters all have their own “vibe” and I liked that. A notable exception to “things I like” was a character, Rainer, who the game seemed to be pressing me to like by giving him unnecessarily full lines of dialogue which he so painfully insists on constantly repeating. Thankfully I had about six other characters to choose from so I didn’t have to listen to that crap if I didn’t want to.
The controls of the game were very simple and functional, and that was something I really appreciate. Nothing ticks me off quite like a game that forgets its original purpose–to be a game. Rather than bogging the player down with a bunch of pointless controls or lines of script that try to decide whether I want to climb a ladder or jump mindlessly to my death, Warlocks functions on a simpler level: press A to kill people who are far away or X to kill people who are close. Simplicity, in my opinion, lends itself to elegance and thus I think Warlocks has a good approach and solid elements when it comes to interfacing.
I also liked the art style. Warlocks is presented in a pixel-art style which, for whatever reason, will always be a favorite of mine. There seems to be no middle ground in graphics; a designer needs to choose to either sell their soul to the devil so that they can produce CryEngine levels of graphics or keep it simple and stick with basics. It’s nice to see a developer who understands the nuances of not making you game look like a bucket of feces and I appreciate that. Some of the characters even look downright cool.
My only problem with the game thus far seems to be a lack of fresh gameplay. The “story” mode (Which as of yet contains no story at all) has the player wandering around killing weak but numerous NPC enemies. It felt linear and stale, but once again it’s important to remember that the game is in early development. What I’m more interested in seeing develop is a multiplayer versus mode, which is as of yet not available. It is the multiplayer element that will probably get me to come back to this game and give it another try when it’s more fleshed out.
Unfortunately, even with the multiplayer elements, I still find myself concerned this game may end up like Awesomenauts but slightly worse. I’ve been wrong before, though. When Warlocks is finished, we’ll see just how wrong or right I am! Until then, keep it tuned to ThoseGamingNerds and maybe write me a cheque for a million dollars while you’re at it!
(“Cheque”? What is this guy, Canadian?)