Alongside the big stages, tournament stations, swag stores, and big company booths at Evo 2017 were smaller developers showcasing their games. There was plenty to choose, from Nidhogg 2, to the new ARIKA game, Omen of Sorrow, Absolver, and even some RPG games as well. Lots of good opportunities to try new products.
With my limited time, I couldn’t play all of them, so I chose to try out some games that I haven’t played before, or heard much about. Here are some of my impressions; some of these definitely have a real shot at being popular choices for fighting game events, even if just as side or party games.
This one has probably the most promise to make it into mainstream FGC. Fantasy Strike lets fighting game fundamentals take center stage, removing difficult links or special move commands. Characters have jump attacks and usually two or three types of jabs, usually an anti-air or a defensive move, throw, and super. The throw mechanic is interesting in particular. You automatically counter throws with a special “Yomi counter” as long as you’re not doing anything — it triggers a cool animation. There are still command throws in the game, which I found pretty difficult to handle, especially since one of the characters has super armor with them — the Zangief-like Garus Rook.
The characters are heavily archetype-based. You can play as Jaina — a complete zoner — with several archery attacks, and a DP that costs health to use. I really liked Setsuki, who had cross-up teleports and command grabs, and probably the longest combos in the game with a special dive. DeGrey really stood out as well. He’s a reference to Guilty Gear’s Slayer, as he has a quick step back and a Pile Bunker-like punch and kick follow-ups. He also sends his ghost to disable the opponent. The cast is packed with references to characters from other games — and they didn’t feel like rip-offs — but rather to welcome people from across the fighting game spectrum.
There’s some concern that the game is “too simple,” but the community manager assured me that this argument doesn’t hold up very well.
“A lot of people are afraid that if you reduce complexity, you reduce depth,” Richard “Leontes” Lopez, Marketing & Community Manager at Sirlin Games, told me. “They feel like it’s an affront to their identity, but it’s more about outsmarting the opponent and making decisions.”
In a category of “Fighting Game with Weirdest Rules” this would surely be the winner. The hipster coffee aficionados in Coffence duke it out between each other with coffee cups, pots, and other containers with caffeine. The goal is to not hit the opponent, but what they’re holding. Upon a successful hit, one “drop” (or “life point,” effectively) soars into the air, free for anyone to grab back into their container. So yes, the goal is to empty their pot and fill up yours.
How does one go on the “Coffence,” exactly? Well, there’s jumping and sliding, which is good for crossing-up. There is a melee swing and a special “break” attack, which is used to break defense, sort of how a throw mechanic would. The main way to play though, I feel, is to do the ranged attack, which propels your cup forward and back like a yo-yo. This gave it a bit of an ARMS feel as you try to aim and hit their cup. It’s fun to snatch flying drops of coffee like this.
It’s a mix between a stick shooter and fighting game. Props for a unique concept! Though I only tried one vs. one, up to four players can engage in Coffence.
Picture four wizards duking it out in combat to the death, wrapped in Smash-esque mechanics. The vivid colors on the stages, which vary greatly with death traps and environmental conditions, caught me a little off-guard. There’s a lot of adaptation required, depending on which stage is selected. The controls are very simple, there’s only jumping and directional attacking. Characters have hit points and various attack types. Some of them dash with their attacks, while others release small bursts of energy. But that’s not the most exciting aspect; when every round starts, there are spellbooks placed around the map. Those give access to powerful special attacks. I had fun summoning ice spikes from the wall; they can completely catch someone off-guard. There was a projectile spell, as well as a powerful summon golem spellbook.
It’s a game where you have to be clever about movement and using the stage to kill your opponents faster than they can take you out. Surprisingly, there’s also a single-player campaign that plays like a physics-based platformer.
It’s not exactly a fighting game, rather an RPG, but I feel this will find appreciation from this audience — especially from those who played PlayStation’s Valkyrie Profile. Each party member is assigned a button (triangle is for spellcasting, such as healing or offensive magic), so pressing square, X, and circle in succession automatically sends them swinging. Multiple presses lead to chains and more effective combo finishes. Timing attacks is important to stagger opponents, but so is blocking. Correct blocking requires quite the reflex and doing a perfect parry is even more rewarding. Fighting bosses truly requires learning their patterns, which aren’t always straightforward.
This game is already out on PlayStation 4, and getting it also nets a PlayStation Vita copy which features a different protagonist.