February 14, 2014 10:00 AM | Anthony Swinnich
Single-player 3D roguelike brawlers are not a common type of game. But then, Heart&Slash is looking like anything but "common". What started as a portfolio piece has blossomed into a fully-featured product that's dripping with an odd sort of early-3D gaming retro style, and it's coming our way before the end of 2014.
Some games go for photorealism, or abstract graphical styles. The aim is for something a bit more specific and underused: the crisp simplicity offered by the Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast.
"I never owned either a Nintendo 64 or a Dreamcast, but I remember looking with envy at the screenshots of games from those systems," said Juan Raigada, Heart&Slash creator and creative director. "Part of why I chose this style is merely practical. I wanted to make a 3D game but had only myself (totally untrained in 3D art) to produce content for the game, so it had to be something simple. But it was also very important that the artwork seemed lighthearted and colorful, since I was wary of making too violent a game and I think the art style helps to bring the experience closer to where I want it."
Raigada, a former DigiPen instructor-turned-full time indie developer, is at the center of Heart&Slash's development, but the game is now being put together by a team. A Heartful of Games is now comprised of six people total, though an additional programer will be brought on if the Kickstarter campaign is successful.
Heart&Slash's combat system will be diverse due to the high level of variance allowed by the game's many weapon and equipment types. There are 75 weapons, like hammers, swords, ray guns and even boxing gloves. Equipment clocks in at 60 different body parts, like jetpacks and items that allow you to stop time. While you'll be a powerful warrior, the game's roguelike nature means it's not going to be a walk in the park. Heart&Slash will be hard.
"Initially inspired by The Binding of Isaac and Spelunky (in mixing roguelike mechanics with action oriented gameplay)," Raigada said. "I know it's a somewhat common approach for indie games nowadays, but the idea came to me through my love for classic roguelikes and the risk-rewards balances in permadeath games."
Death doesn't matter much to robots because they can just be rebuilt. Love, however, is the overarching theme in Heart&Slash, and is laced through every aspect. The lead character is a Heart, a robot who, through some sort of technical error, desires to be loved in a sterile and inhospitable post-human robot-ran world. You fight to be noticed. You fight for adoration.
The game is currently being planned to be three levels long, with each level taking an experienced and skilled player 20 minutes to complete. A final run-through may take someone an hour, but the game's difficulty will cause deaths that increase the playtime.
"I want a hard game that plays fast and kills fast. As I have been growing 'not-young', I have found having less patience with the usual padding present in games," Raigada told me. "The objective is for the player to always have something difficult to do in front of him. However, I haven't finished many of the roguelike-likes that came out recently, as that's due to the difficulty. I don't want H&S to be effectively impossible to most people, so it won't be as hard as maybe some people would expect from the premise."
Heart&Slash will be coming out in December 2014 on Windows, Mac and Linux, and the full version will run you $10 while the Kickstarter is running. There is also a Greenlight page for those who wish to see the game on Steam.