March 30, 2016 10:00 AM | Lena LeRay
About two and a half years ago, a Danish game development studio called BetaDwarf Entertainment released their first game, Forced. It was a co-op multiplayer top-down game that really required players to work together to overcome challenges. Their newest game, Forced Showdown, carries the same branding. However, it's a completely different ball of wax. Forced Showdown is a top-down arena action game designed for solo play, virtually endless replayability via deckbuilding, and being streamed.
The game is themed as a televised bloodsport, with little floating cameras following the player through a series of series of challenges (yes, that's typed correctly) leading up to a final boss fight. A single arena run consists of seven rounds and a miniboss fight. In between rounds, the player can spend mana from a pool of gradually increasing size to play cards from their hand, gaining one-time benefits, consumeable contraptions, or upgrades that will persist for the rest of the run. The player's goal is ultimately to survive multiple such arena runs to get through an entire "show" and unlock the next show.
All of the deck and deckbuilding aspects of the game will be very familiar to anyone who has played Hearthstone. There are 30 cards to a deck; the player can have a maximum of two copies of a given card in a deck; the mana pool starts at one and rises by one every round in the arena; and the deckbuilding UI is very reminiscent of Hearthstone's. The cards themselves are very specific to Forced Showdown, but BetaDwarf has adapted the ease of use that Heathstone is so famous for in a way that serves to keep the gameplay of their top-down arena game from going stale.
Everything about the game's UI carries that same kind of simplicity and flexibility, though. Each of the unlockable characters has three active abilities and one passive ability. The primary ability has different effects depending on how long it's used. The starting character, for example, has a beam that grows in strength the longer it's held down, but which also slows the character down as it grows in strength. Deckbuilding and choosing which cards to play between arena rounds adds more depth without adding complexity, making it an easy game to pick up and play, but one which has a good amount of depth and adaptability for a variety of play styles.
Although Forced Showdown is a single player game, the developers have made it easy to stream via Twitch. Streamers can link the game to their channel right from inside the game. BetaDwarf even ran a Twitch event leading up to the launch, with the game's 12% launch discount determined by how much view time it got on Twitch during the week leading up to the game's release.