September 13, 2013 10:33 AM | Paul Hack
Twin brothers David and J. Kyle Pittman (You Have to Win the Game) had 5 years with 2K Marin and 6 years with Gearbox, respectively, before they left stable employment to pursue the indie dream. Together, they started up Minor Key Games and their first project, Eldritch, is about to come to fruition. Eldritch is a first-person action game featuring the random level generation and permadeath of roguelikes, the non-linearity and freedom of immersive action-sims (think System Shock and Ultima Underworld), and a gameworld inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
A secret, ancient library acts as a hub for your adventures. You start there and you will return there, sans equipment that hasn't been cached, when you die in the dungeons. Exploring the library and reading the books displayed therein will reveal gameplay tips and bits of background story. If you've stowed items in a bank chest in the catacombs, you can equip yourself from the chest in the library. When ready, you gaze into a certain powerful tome and are teleported to the dungeon-dimension.
The dungeons are vast and seem to go down forever (and they well may). The random 3-D level generation works incredibly well, and though you will see architectural features repeated, every space I explored in the alpha felt organic and interesting. The creatures you encounter behave differently from each other and go about their beastly business even when you aren't watching. A robust AI is to be expected from the Pittmans, seeing as David worked on the AI in Bioshock 2 and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.
Exploration and combat are simple and satisfying, and can be controlled with the mouse and keyboard or an Xbox controller. The weapon I used most often was a revolver, but there are a variety of objects that kill scattered about the dungeons. One item I particularly enjoyed was the dynamite, which blasts away walls and floors as well as enemies. You can also gain arcane powers by praying at the idols of forgotten gods.
The stylized graphics and sounds (such as the chanting of cultists and the growls of nearby beasts) are effective at building an immersive world full of high strangeness and just a touch of dread. I've spent a few hours in the alpha version of this world, and I'm eager to dive further into the Dagonian depths.
Eldritch will be released on October 21 and is available now for pre-order exclusively through the Humble Store. It is currently planned only for Windows. You can pre-order it for $15 using the Humble widget on the Eldritch homepage. Ordering it now will also give you access to the beta, which is expected around the end of September.
You can also support Eldritch on Steam Greenlight, and anyone who buys it through the Humble Store will get a Steam key if it's greenlit.
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