PAX Prime 2015: Taking Surprise Attack’s Three Games for a Spin – Multiplayer Madness
There are a number of separate games under the Surprise Attack indie game label (Screencheat, Rogue Continuum and Dungeon League) and at PAX Prime 2015, I got to try them out.
The first game I looked at, which you can see a screenshot of above, was called Screencheat. In this co-op first-person shooter game being developed by Samurai Punk, up to eight players use a variety of different weapons to take each other out. There will be a few different game modes when the game releases, but the main idea of it is this — each player is invisible, and in order to see where your opponents are so you can shoot them, you are forced to look at their screens (hence the name Screencheat).
It’s a really fun idea, even if it does take a while to get used to. I played a few rounds of the game, and I didn’t start getting the hang of it until the third or so round it. It’s not easy to put yourself in the location of your opponent by looking at his or her screen, and then mentally mark that location on your screen. It helps that every map will feature different colored areas, but still, in order to really be successful at the game, you really need to know the layout of each map like the back of your hand.
It also helps if you know how to use each weapons. There are ten wacky weapons to use in Screencheat, including a “Hobby Horse” that charges straight forward, killing everyone in its path (but it also leaves a trail that will show opponents where you are), an exploding teddy bear, and a blunderbuss. The weapons are a lot of fun to use, and some of them are quite unique. The only problem I foresee with the game is there is no single-player modes. However, I do believe there will be online gameplay, so that might make up for the lack of solo play.
The next game I was able to get to play was Rogue Continuum. This is a fairly standard take on your standard rogue-like co-op game, but I still enjoyed playing it. The game has players take on the role of one of four heroes, with each hero being competent at something different. For example, my favorite character to play as was a sniper, who could deal large amounts of damage from far distances as expected. I also enjoyed playing as the melee character, who (surprise!) could easily take out enemies close by. Each character has two special skills, such as a shield, a missile barrage, or a snare, that they can employ every so often.
There are also a number of different weapons that can be unlocked and upgraded. The alien type (oh, yeah, you fight aliens) you are taking on determines which type of weapon you should grab. If you’re in a procedurally generated level with a lot of fast and little aliens, you might want to choose to use a machine gun or a sword. Or, if you’re fighting a boss character, it might be better to use a weapon that has concentrated fire. Of course, only certain characters can use certain weapons, but it looks like each character will have at least one spread weapon and one weapons that is meant for larger enemies.
While Rogue Continuum didn’t really offer anything new, It had solid gameplay and fun combat based on what I’ve played.
The last Surprise Attack game I tried out was Dungeon League, a multiplayer brawler with dungeon crawler-like elements. In the game, which is being developed by Ache Bit, players compete in a number of different game modes, like Capture the Flag or Deathmatch. Each match lasts only a few minutes, and in those few minutes, players get to experience everything that’s in a dungeon crawler. There are items to pick up and use, spells and skills to unlock, and a variety of classes and character to use.
Players can either fight each other on teams or in a free-for-all. Before jumping into a variety of matches, players have the chance to pick their character. Each character has a different set of skills and different types of attacks. I chose to use Luna during my first few matches, an archer with the abilities to turn almost invisible, shoot fire arrows, and more. A new skill gets unlocked after gaining a few levels, and up to three active skills can be unlocked and used per match. Players can choose these three skills before starting a match, and are not allowed to change them once a string of matches has started.
During the actual game, players not only have to worry about opposing human players, but also enemy AI units. These units simply roam around, attacking whichever player is nearby. Killing them will net you experience points and sometimes new weapons and items, although killing human players will gain players much more experience. The whole game is a unique, fast-paced, and fun experience, and it will be nice to play Dungeon League when it releases sometime next year on consoles.