I've spent some time this morning playing with a pre-alpha build of Ironcast, the Victorian steam-mech game that I hoped would be the successor to Puzzle Quest that I've craved for so long. It's certainly a handsome game, with a great deal of attention lavished on the world and its characters. There are two commanders available in the build and mechs with various in-built abilities and equipment loadouts. Combat is tactically intricate in comparison to many Match 3 games, due to a reliance on gathering resources that are used to activate various pieces of equipment and weaponry, rather than simply aiming for victorious cascades. It's a powerful tonic and still in need of a final funding push.
At the time of writing, just over £1,250 is required to hit the £10,000 target, with seven days of the campaign remaining. A £12,500 stretch goal will allow for the inclusion of a fourth commander.
The 4th playable Commander character will be Miss Halisi Adoyo, Master bridge engineer and Consortium member. Halisi joins the fight for the British Empire after emigrating from Kenya in 1885. Whilst she earned her reputation as a master engineer by helping to design and build the extensive rail network all across West Africa, it was her invention of a new way of fusing metals together that made earned Halisi her first million. She had devised a way of melding 2 metal surfaces together in seconds, with a bond that was in many ways stronger than the metal panels themselves.
Here's a concept sketch showing two possible designs for Halisi.
The game is already solid, although lacking some features. Given that it falls in a genre that might be deemed 'casual', I'm quite pleased that combat is complex enough to have stumped me at first sight (the tutorial has not been implemented yet). Rather than seeing 'gems' drop from the top of the screen, fingers crossed that they will rest in satisfactory patterns, Ironcast presents resources that can be applied in various ways, in an attempt to counter an enemy's equipment. Tactics appear to triumph over chance.
As for the world-building, it's vaguely reminiscent of the absolutely splendid 80 Days, which is unfortunately only available on iOS at present. If it was to make an appearance on PC, you'd be hearing a lot more about it here.