Looks Fantastic, Plays Fantastic: Interloper

Oh jeez, oh jeez. I was far more excited about Interloper than I let on in my first glance back in September. For those that missed that, it’s a gorgeous 2D RTS that evokes Hearthstone in how it breaks down the genre to its simplest form.

Games are won through capturing territory with an unarmed but invulnerable Sentinal. Some areas have structures in them with special properties – constructing smaller ships, combining them into larger ones with different abilities or simply blocking the way. Each match takes less than five minutes and is a hectic affair of attack, counter-attack and positioning. Before I had just a trailer to base my hopes on, showing off the basics. Now I’ve had a go of an alpha build and it is superb.

Starting from an initially small area of influence, you’ll quickly expand while your army grows. The basic unit is the drone; it kamikazes into blockades and enemy units alike but has deeper use in stopping the path of your opponent’s Sentinal, since the latter has no weapons. On the structure side, power buildings are required to keep your production working, more power making them pump out drones faster. Pulling ahead and staying there through careful positioning and application of overwhelming force is the key, with both quick second-by-second decisions and long term plans of action being required.

These tactics have to change as each map demands it too. Some have specialist structures, places where the smaller drone ships are traded in for different ones. The three currently in the game are a teleporter that allows you to move your Sentinal to its location quickly, destroying it in the process; a blockade ship that cannot attack but has three health and takes damage before the other things in its space, protecting them; and a long-range weapon which has recharging shots but can attack without retaliation, making it totally fatal to ignore. The complexity of this system spirals quickly. Is it worth taking away front-line units for a short time to combine them? If so, what’s more valuable at this moment? Are there clever tricks that can be done with the teleporter on this map in particular?

But the interaction remains simple, the cause and effect all totally immediate. I’m never confused as to why I lost a game of Interloper – currently, sadly, only to the AI as multiplayer is still being worked on – it’s just a matter of not having got my units into place fast enough. Or, better, a flaw in my strategy as a whole, leaving my flanks undefended or certain areas weak to the specialist ships.

For an Alpha demo, I was incredibly impressed. It’s still struggling through Greenlight but I think it’s more complete than the vast majority of those in Early Access. Not that that means it’s in a sellable state. While it’s stable and very deep, the skirmishes against the AI won’t hold my attention forever with nothing to build towards. Some netcode, and it would need to be fighting game tier netcode as split second timings rule the game, seems essential. Equally, if developers Monogon Games continue to diversify the base with more maps, differences between the factions (currently just an aesthetic choice) or further singleplayer content, I’d be on board.

No word of when you can get your hands on it, but we’ll keep you posted. Here’s the latest trailer, including a full match against the AI explained by one of the developers:

10 Comments

  1. gollum_krumen says:

    Looks promising. Basically Starcraft for people with hobbies. I miss playing Starcraft, so my hopes are on this one.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Not to me. It looks more like a puzzle game and a simple turn-based strategy game to me.

      • Ditocoaf says:

        But it’s real-time.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          That’s true. It looks like a TBS, though. And maybe it’d even be better as one, but considering I haven’t touched it I could easily be mistaken on making that assumption.

      • Coldyham says:

        Reminds me of Blipzkreig (link to armorgames.com), one of the few free flash games I still return to occasionally.

        • jrodman says:

          An interesting creation. Too bad the movement control is total shite and some of the level design too. Too much frustration.

  2. ersetzen says:

    I would actually buy this right now. Mostly because even in this state it looks fun and polished enough to be worth it. That’s not to say that I don’t want mutliplayer and extra content, just that I wouldn’t mind playing it in it’s current state. Although I guess the beta should be soon-ish anyway.

    I think I saw a similar game before. Normal units always trading 1v1 and being able to stack them to build walls/spread them to cover multiple ways, I mean. No clue what it could have been. One thing that kinda has to change is the visibility of the winning thresh hold. It totally makes sense and probably should exist for balance reasons but having the game randomly end because you didn’t see how much the enemy has captured kinda sucks. Since everything else is so visually impressive it looks like they added it after testing but hadn’t the resources to add more than the bars.

    Anyway, I foresee great things for this game if it receives a map editor and workshop integration. And there doesn’t seem to be a good reason not too since it seems that maps are build out of building blocks anyway.

    Edit: It reminded me of One Minute To Midnight, which I just realized was spotlighted on rps a couple days ago. Welp.

  3. Shadowcat says:

    Defeating a Sentinel is easy — just get to higher ground, and absorb it.

  4. shinygerbil says:

    I really hope the default colour scheme won’t be Orange and Teal.

  5. James_Ross says:

    For anyone else following this game with interest, it seems there are some alpha gameplay videos going up here link to youtube.com