By Guy Rainey / September 18th, 2014
When I first saw the trailer for Warlocks, I thought it was going to be an arena fighting game like Super Smash Bros. Now that I’ve actually gotten hands-on time with a pre-alpha build of the game, I’m not sure what to call it. I think the closest I can come to describing it is a side-scrolling MOBA, but I’m not even that is an accurate description. I think we’re looking at a new type of experience altogether.
On the Character Selection screen, you’ll see six selectable characters, and four blacked out. I assume, since this is pre-alpha, that those characters aren’t ready to be shown yet. That’s OK, though, since the six characters we have access to are pretty interesting. Each character has four actions (if you’re playing on a gamepad, they are assigned to the four face buttons), and each action has a cooldown. It’s usually something along the lines of one quick, low damage action, one mid-level action, one powerful action, and one dodge action.
Even though there’s a Story Mode, there isn’t a story presented at this stage in development. From what I can gather, there’s a Shadow World invading, and only these Warlocks can stop it. Honestly, that just seems to justify the black blobs you face as enemies. Now, I don’t have a problem with that at all. A lot of my favorite games have plots like this. Just know going in that plot doesn’t look to be the main focus.
Rainer the Guardian is possibly the least effective, though this could just be my play style. He doesn’t have the dodge action that seems so important with the enemies that just creep towards you, then explode. In fact, the action that would normally be some kind of dodge doesn’t seem to do anything at all most of the time. Either it’s a bug the devs haven’t worked out yet, or I’m using it wrong.
Jake the Pyromancer is my favorite. He’s fast, which is the most important thing when facing swarms of enemies. His abilities aren’t as strong, but they have quick cooldowns, so it doesn’t matter as much. He has one ability that doesn’t even have a cooldown. He can call meteors from the sky for as long as he wants (leaving himself open to attack, of course).
Anya the Ice Mistress is a lot like Jake, except a little bit slower, and with ice instead of fire. In some ways, I think that Anya is more functional than even Jake, since her ice projectiles fire in three directions.
Kheera the Shamaness is, odd title aside, the most interesting character in the bunch, since she has two forms she can switch between. Her starting form is more defensive, and the form you switch to is more attack-oriented.
Lissy the Robot Girl is the oddest character in the bunch, for feeling so futuristic in a medieval fantasy setting. Still, she doesn’t have the same cooldowns that the rest of the characters do. Rather, as she uses her machine guns and flamethrower, her bot will overheat. Not the most original mechanic, but it works.
Christian the Fallen Angel (another odd choice of words) is the solid tank of the game. His attacks are slow, but the damage he deals is second to none. Yeah, he shoots lasers out of his sword, too.
The demo ended after the first boss, who was named Fallen Angel. What? I thought Christian was the Fallen Angel. Turns out, that’s true. After you beat him, he becomes the character you saw on the menu screen. This seems to be how you’ll unlock characters: you beat them in their giant monster form, then you’ll be able to select them.
Aside from a few bugs (which are to be expected in an alpha release), the overall presentation is pretty good. The simplistic art is pleasing to the eye, and runs very nicely on my laptop. The music is pretty good. Maybe not I’m-gonna-put-this-on-my-MP3-player good, but entertaining.
So, is Warlocks worth watching (or worth supporting, seeing as how the game is on Kickstarter)? I honestly enjoyed my time with the game. Even in pre-alpha, the game is very playable, and seems to just need more polish. If you’re interested, you can play a demo in your browser right now. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.
ImpressionsOne More LevelPCWarlocks