Robot Souls - Strength Of The Sword: ULTIMATE
Kickstarting clockwork robot battle arenas.
Right, say it very quietly so the grumps don't get all antsy about it but this has some similarities with Dark Souls. Did they hear us? Did we get away with it? I think we're safe.
Strength Of The Sword: ULTIMATE [official site] is a third person action RPG from tiny two-man studio Ivent Games. If that sounds familiar it's because they previously made the Playstation-exclusive Strength of the Sword 3 which isn't a sequel, that's just how they named it. Ultimate is a Kickstarter remake/port of that game to PC and various consoles. It looks a bit like Dark Souls only more action packed, with the same focus on nail-biting, skill-heavy combat and a wide variety of viable customisation options when it comes to gear. Ivent provided a very early build for me to try out, details and trailer below.
While it's one of the funniest Kickstarter pitches I've ever read, it is at the cost of a little clarity. It's not made especially clear that this is at the base level a port, to the point where the version I was playing was still titled Strength of the Sword 3. It ran perfectly well, impressive for so early a build, but there's all sorts of graphical improvements and options that will need to be added to bring it up to 2015 standards.
On the other hand, it plays wonderfully. Animation and style are on-point and the focus on devastating difficulty will be welcome if some of the money from Kickstarter - and a publishing deal with Team17 - can go on proper tutorials. Currently there's a movelist accessible from the menu and selections will pop up on screen to give you something to aim for in the early game. They're not tied to the enemies you're fighting or the situation you're in though, so beyond just providing information they're not a lot of use.
It gets the action right though. You're agile and powerful, capable of outflanking or tanking enemies, so long as you're paying attention. Wrong steps are punished, a mistimed parry here and badly executed dodge there and a quarter of your life is gone in a flash. Even with just the base set of sword and shield there's options in every scenario. It's begging for the Kickstarted PvP, dedicated players trying to outsmart each other. It's definitely an off-shoot, but the basic design elements and how it made me consider each individual situation reminded me of Dark Souls.
Thankfully the target and relevant stretch goals are all far behind, meaning if you're worried what the final product might be like your money isn't the difference between it existing and not. Release is scheduled for a reasonable November, though if you're desperate and have a PS3 you can grab the original game on PSN now.