August 31st, 2012 | By Alex Wilkinson
Earlier in the week I reported on Code Brush Games debut release Archeblade set to take the internet by storm with its free to play new take on crossing Beat ‘em Up’s with Online Battle Arenas, the screenshots and videos looked very interesting and I was very much looking forward to the beta which was launched today but after a day with it how did it fair overall and did it keep its promises?
With every beta you expect problems because, well it is a beta for a reason and this beta was anything but smooth sailing for Code Brush Games with many people (including myself) having connection problems trying to find the server lists, after a few hours of tech wizardry Code Brush Games managed to create a work around and all cylinders were finally firing. The beta as it stands contains a fair chunk of content to play around with, containing the 10 characters billed all available to play though it does only contain two maps one a small arena which is a team deathmatch style 3v3 and the second a large capture the pylon mode 7v7 (much like territories from other games).
I can only assume that the big question on everyone’s lips is how does this game fulfill the role of a “Beat ‘Em Up” and from what I have played it seems to take the idea and translate it across very strongly. I am not a massive Beat ‘Em Up fan however I have played my fair share and from what I have played of Archeblade it does very much feel similar just with more people and with a little more depth of gameplay. The key however is the introduction of combo moves that work by the player pressing several keys to produce different moves along with when you land move after move you actually get combo bonuses, when combined with the dashes and crazy jump spins it all looks to fill the bill very well.
So the Beat ‘Em Up concept works with Archeblade however this gametype is very much dependant upon latency when online, there is nothing worse than thinking you have landed a ten hit combo and armour breaker then noticing the enemy in fact moved just a few pixels to the left just to one shot you. Considering I am playing this game from the UK and the beta has had no EU servers up the latency felt none existent, even when playing on the Korean server which claimed to have 300 latency in fact that was the game I got my best kills off. This is most definitely a testament to modern technology as for the games I played I felt that the latency was not a factor in the gameplay and this was playing cross continent, though the true test of latency will be when the servers are truly stress tested with massive numbers connecting and disconnecting later down the line.
Although I have by no means played all of the characters in the game I played through several games with three of them and against most other characters giving me a feel for most of them. One of the most impressive things I came across in this game was the way each character seemed to have a very unique gameplay style bring very different things to the game along with feeling surprisingly individual.
What was surprising was in a game billed as the new style Beat ‘Em Up to have a few characters which were primarily range focused and the main problem with this dynamic is range Vs melee always seems to make problems in games. I was suprised how the range seemed quite balanced with the sniper taking very long periods between shots and to line them up correctly it took extended periods of time but once it hit, it would deal huge damage making all that effort worthwhile. The fact that certain melee characters can have dashes and the likes also helps to balance range issues giving every character their own role in the battle.
I fell in love with the fighter Rehiney Rich’Lich (in blue above) who fulfills what feels to be an assassin class with very strong melee attacks and little health her special is a teleport dash to close in on the pesky ranged characters and fleeing melee’s alike. I also played as Renoah Collintz (in red above) who is a sniper class and Elichea Bayer (in gold above) who seems to be a close quarter gun specialist and is in my opinion the least conventional feeling but great fun. There does seem to be tank classes and support classes (Renoah Collintz is technically support) which can make for a great dynamic and although I can see teamplay playing a huge role in this game it is also fun to sometime just run around and beat up whoever has strayed for the pack.
The graphics stylings are nice and it all seems to fit in well in this world, the pop up messages come up in a similar styling to that of some classic arcade Beat ‘Em Ups and as you land moves the screen starts to become enveloped in all manner of colours in true arcade styling, whilst still retaining an announcer similar to that found in DOTA and the likes to inform you of your deeds but in a much less overbearing manner.
One of the key points that Code Brush Games stated in their press release was to make this game fun and accessible for casual players and the system they seem to of opted for does lean more towards the casual end of the market. I assume in the release version Archeblade will have a more of a tournament style mode available however for the beta it seems logical to use the system that allows players to drop in and out of games as and when they choose which is an interesting model to pick up, this breaks up what could’ve been an overbearingly serious feeling to the gameplay.
The skill cap in Archeblade feels like it is very high with well practiced players being able to perform flawless painful combos, however even for new players it is quite easy to pick up the move set to a basic level and even rival the obviously better players which allows for players of all skills still being able to get a great deal of fun out of this game. The addition of a stamina bar (seen on the bottom right above) feature does limit the move sets slightly creating more skill when trying to pull off combos, along with filling up a special move meter by landing successive attacks. There is however room within this game for competitive play especially with the game duration being below 20 minutes per game along with coming from A South Korean developer I can’t help but to think at the back of my mind E-Sports is definitely on the cards for this game, with the inclusion of LAN support it all adds to the potential to make this into an E-Sports title and to be honest it is very interesting to watch.
Archeblade promised to completely change the age old Beat ‘Em Up and well it seems to of followed through on this promise creating quite a unique game that is not too much of an Online Battle Arena and does retain a lot of what Code Brush Games intended. For anyone with a Beta code the game will be in Beta until the September 7th so be sure to get good use out of the time and experience this great new concept. For everyone else interested in Archeblade it is billed to be released in March of next year on Steam and it a free to play title so there is no excuse in not giving it a go on release. For all the future information on Archeblade be sure to check back to The Indie Games Magazine for the news at it develops.