Kerberos haven’t been spending all their time licking the wounds gained from Sword of the Stars II’s messy release – they’ve also been developing a spin-off roguelike set in the same science-fictional universe. Sword of the Stars: The Pit might be set aboard some manner of space station, but features permadeath, door-hacking, rat-stabbing, starvation-avoiding and all that good masochistic dungeon-crawler stuff. There’s a demo out now, offering a 10% chunk of the game.
I’ve been having a play and I’m at least passably taken with it. It comes across as very low budget – not in a tawdry way at all, but just one that suggests the Kerberos A-team didn’t work on it en masse. Bobbleheaded isometric 2D graphics, blip-blop sound effects and a slightly inelegant control set that is, at a guess, more because it’s trying to replicate vintage roguelikes’ obtuseness rather than because it doesn’t know better. Additionally, this is an ‘alpha demo’, a prototype designed to gain crowdfunding, so there’s every chance it’s be slickened up if and when it makes it to full release status.
Far more importantly, I immediately lost myself to inward-looking concerns about getting my lockpicking skill up, finding enough food to stay alive (in addition to replenishing health) and frantically switching to melee attacks to conserve ammo.
There are the requisite shedloads of stats and randomly-generated level layouts, so it’s going to do its job, I think. It’s no doubt too lightweight to please the roguelike true believers and perhaps a little too awkward to attract a more casual audience, but for boring middlers such as I it’s a reasonable fit. I do wish it wasn’t immediately so rat-laden, but then complaining about rats in RPGs is pretty much up there with complaining about guns in first-person shooters now.
The ‘alpha’ demo, containing but one of the three playable classes and a mere five levels, can be grabbed here at a hard drive cost of just 8.4 UFO: Enemy Unknowns. Here’s a trailer if you can’t suckle on a download pipe right now.
The full game isn’t out as yet, but as is increasingly par for the course they’re doing the preorder via crowdfunding thing, in this case on IndieGoGo. They’re $18k into their $60k target with just 40ish hours left so they must be feeling the pinch right now, but see what you make of the demo at least.