Halfway Is XCOM Meets Alien In Spaaaace

By Nathan Grayson on September 24th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Oh goodness gracious does Halfway ever look fully scrumptious. Think XCOM’s brand of spooky, dread-dripping turn-based tactics but in spaaaaaaaaaaace, and you’ll be on the right track. It’s also far more intimate, with you struggling through dank corridors to take back your ship from a mysterious alien force. So maybe there’s a little, er, Alien in there as well. It is, however, much more overtly story focused than other games in the genre, for better or worse, though what I’ve seen so far definitely lands in the former category. Oh, and that interface. Mmmm, yes. Do you think “Will you marry me?” is an appropriate ice-breaker?

Here’s the basic premise from developer Robotality:

“At the heart of the game are tactical gun fights. Battles are conducted in a typical turn-based manner with transparent but interesting tactical decisions. The whole game is entrenched in an engrossing storyline that unfolds more and more the deeper the player delves into the game. Your squad will be built out of distinct characters you pick up along your journey, each with their own part to play in the whole story. You will develop skills and find items as you uncover all the corners of the spaceship, adding a touch of RPG elements to the game.”

So, after awakening from cryo-sleep to find that pretty much everyone else you know is either (brutally, bloodily) dead or gone, you begin creeping about, scrambling for some paper-thin sliver of survival. As you progress, you’ll assemble a ramshackle squad and uncover more about what exactly is going on. I am guessing the aliens just wanted to invite you to a bake sale, but I could be way off-base.

For those who’d rather steer clear of all that and forever be haunted by mystery (or, you know, just do more after they’ve finished the single-player story), there’ll also be a highly flexible level editor and full mod support. Speaking of, Robotality also discussed their approach to level creation, and it’s something I can definitely get behind:

“All of Halfway’s levels are completely hand-crafted. We don’t use anything procedural to create the levels. We feel strongly this is the way to go for the game. Interestingly enough, we had a procedural generator in the early days, but soon decided against it. By manually designing the levels, we felt we had much better control over storytelling and the flexibility needed to create the detailed and atmospheric environment we had in mind.”

Halfway will be out later this year. Like everything else ever. Kind of makes me wish reality was turn-based. Maybe then I’d be able to strategically plan my life around actually playing all of this stuff.

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Top comments

  1. Ergates_Antius says:

    I'm curious. In the future, will anyone ever go into cryosleep (or hypersleep, etc) without waking up to find everyone they know either dead or missing?
  2. Premium User Badge

    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Cryosleep? Sometimes I wake up surrounded with corpses when I take a nap.
  1. GamesInquirer says:

    Glad you finally gave this the spotlight, it’s going places :)

  2. BTAxis says:

    So does a campaign in this game consist of a string of levels, or is there some sort of over-arching game like X-COM had?

    • bach says:

      There’s a storyline going through the game that leads you from level to level. So it’s not an over-arching type story like x-com :)

  3. Jambe says:

    That looks lovely.

    • MrThingy says:

      Indeed, almost has a wee bit of Bitmap Brothers feel to it. <3

      [edit – also like the chromatic distortion when the HUD appears and disappears, nice touch!]

      • neonordnance says:

        The pixel art is bloody amazing. The backgrounds are intricate and detailed– not a hint of a tile anywhere– and the characters are full of expressive animations and movements.

        Not to mention the interface and lighting effects are beautiful.

        This is the best-looking 2d game I’ve seen in a while.

        • waltC says:

          Oddly enough, the sound effects and graphics in the “alpha video” reminded me of Pinball Wizard…;)

  4. Ergates_Antius says:

    I’m curious. In the future, will anyone ever go into cryosleep (or hypersleep, etc) without waking up to find everyone they know either dead or missing?

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    FhnuZoag says:

    Looks fantastic. Could do with a few interface changes, maybe. (Lack of HP display bothers me….) But it’s nice to see indies following up XCOM with their own spins.

    • Trithne says:

      I think it has a health bar, although I didn’t see it in the video. On their site the screenshots show a couple of extra UI elements that I would guess are a health bar and actions remaining (Since there’s a fairly clear 2-action system in place).

      Example

      • Arona Daal says:

        The Hp is the White Bars top right of the Soldiers, but i think he means you can only see the Hp of the *selected* Soldier.

    • Arona Daal says:

      A simple Context sensitive Cursor (click place to move/ click Enemy to attack etc.) is basic Standard .
      In the Video he has to pick everything he does from a Menu every Time.
      How is that a “Oh, and that interface. Mmmm, yes.”good Interface ?

      • KevinLew says:

        It’s a good interface because the video implies that the entire game can be played using just a two-button mouse, and it’s easy to understand. I could easily play this game after this five minute video.

  6. Trithne says:

    That really does look amazing. And a map editor, you say? And mod support? Oh my. And here’s me downloading Firaxis XCOM just for something to do. This is already looking better.

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    draglikepull says:

    “The whole game is entrenched in an engrossing storyline that unfolds more and more the deeper the player delves”

    That’s not much of a selling point, that’s how most linear fiction works. Here’s a selling point:

    “The whole game is entrenched in an engrossing storyline that becomes less and less clear the more the player knows about it.”

    Hey, now that’s interesting. How does knowing more make me understand less? Now I’m hooked!

    • Turkey says:

      Hey, man. All I know is sometimes I like to pull out my metaphorical sandbags and entrench myself in a nice engrossing storyline.

    • Grey Poupon says:

      Some movies do that, and generally they’re very bad. It just feels very cheap when the story isn’t explained much. Lost was kinda like that and I hated it for it. I like things that make sense. Guess that’s what you generally get for being an engineer.

      As for the game itself, I really felt like the thing keeping the XCOM remake afloat was the graphics. This game has the simple gameplay mechanics but also simpler graphics? Think I would have preferred a more complex approach. Shouldn’t judge it without trying though. Nonetheless, it’s great that the TBS genre is starting to resurface. Now someone go make me Silent Storm 2. With procedurally generated maps. I’d love me one of those…

  8. Tyrmot says:

    This does look good. If I were going to make a game, this is the kind of game I’d make! Thanks for heads up.

  9. Chizu says:

    This looks pretty great.
    I hope it doesn’t have deceptively high system reqs, so I can actually run it on this terrible laptop of mine :V

  10. DaftPunk says:

    I don’t like weapons sounds,otherwise looks cute.

    • deadly.by.design says:

      They stood out to me, too. I am also assuming they’re alpha stand-ins.

  11. MadTinkerer says:

    X Com meets Alien in space? Soooo… Space Hulk but with Imperial Guard instead of Space Marines? Pretty sure there was already a cardboard-based expansion for that.

    Definitely not complaining, mind. :D

  12. deadly.by.design says:

    I am more likely to play this than X-COM, if only because it seems less intimidating. I also prefer simpler, tile-based tactics games, so there’s that. I’ll keep an eye on it.

  13. Wurstwaffel says:

    I am a bit disappointed that all these games seem to be aping X-COM when they really should be aping Jagged Alliance 2. Also, what’s with the damn pixels all the time.

    Other than that two thumbs up.

  14. Dave Tosser says:

    Has XCOM replaced X-Com/X-COM as the name for the whole franchise? Given that only the first two games have truly “spooky”, “dread-dripping” tactics, I don’t assume Nathan’s referring to Nu-Com. Or Nu-COM. Or NUCOM. It must be like Deus Ex: Human Revolution in that games journalists have a habit of dropping the subtitle and just calling it Doosex, even if the original one with the limb crippling and no cover system isn’t what they mean. What say we just call it Eggscom and stick to one spelling?

  15. NooklearToaster says:

    I don’t know if this will be a popular opinion or not, but I really hope they don’t drop the procedural generator entirely. I’m all for a hand-crafted story and robust level editor, but sometimes I just want to drop into a random mission for a ten minute strategy fix.

    Having the option as a quick skirmish or something would be nice. Maybe with a random loadout and skillset button. I just love figuring out how to work with random loadouts.

  16. NetsukeMonkey says:

    X-Com? This looks more like Laser Squad via the SNES. Count me in !

  17. Bull0 says:

    I don’t remember any machine-guns in Alien. I think you mean Aliens. I mean, if you must keep on with the “Game X is Y meets Z!!” headlines

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    LTK says:

    So chromatic abberation is becoming a thing in games now, I see.