Developer: Lightbulb Crew
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Genre: Turn Based Strategy, Roguelike
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 28/07/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
What do you get if you take the framework for XCOM, sprinkle it with gothic horror and fold in a few roguelike elements? Well, what you get is Othercide, which is a strange concoction of genres indeed but it’s a peculiar mixture that on the whole, actually works. With its unique art style and a diverse mix of gameplay elements, I think most players can find something in Othercide to enjoy. I certainly did.
Othercide tries to tell the player an abstract tale that will be too vague for most players to fully understand. Along the same lines as games like Dark Souls or Bloodborne, the story seems to have hidden depths that you can get from story snippets and the in-game codex, but it is on the whole obscure, interesting and never dull. In Othercide, from what I can gather, our world is being invaded by an evil and deadly force. The only thing standing in their way is the Red Mother and her seemingly disposable daughters.
Wave Your Daughters Goodbye As You Feed Them To Each Other
I say disposable because as in most games of this ilk, you will lose people rapidly. Do not get to attached to them, they will die and die regularly. I stopped naming units in games like this and XCOM, due to eventually running out of options and constantly feeling the loss of losing characters I had spent ten minutes thinking of a name for. In Othercide it is even more apparent due to the game’s strange healing mechanics.
To heal one of your units, you must sacrifice a unit of equal or higher level to it. It seems very strange to me but it did lead to me making some tactical decisions to progress. The interesting feature about it is that when you sacrifice a unit, the healed unit inherits some characteristics from the first. This means who you feed to who does have an effect on your team and their future stats. Yum yum.
Familiar But With Unique Traits
Anyone who has played a strategy, turn-based RPG will hit the ground running. You manoeuvre units around a grid, battling beasties, and it is all governed by a timeline and an action point resource pool. The trick to games like Othercide is moving units into position, timing their abilities correctly and using your team in unison to amplify the weaknesses of your opponents. Othercide does have a few unique traits in its battle system like using your health for delayed attacks; the timeline helps you plan into the future and make vital tactical decisions with such abilities.
Another feature to the battle system is that when you use most of your action points, when you get into the last fifty percent, your character goes into a cooldown like status and gets thrown to the end of the timeline. This system creates another tactical nuance to battles: do you throw all your AP into killing a dangerous enemy and leave yourself open, or save your points for a quicker future attack? It’s an enjoyable system that always keeps you on your toes.
Everything in Othercide is ethereal, otherworldly and horrible. From the game’s enemies right down to the game’s mission structure and the central hub, fittingly called the Inner Void, it screams gothic horror and it’s brilliant. Even entering the game’s small self-contained missions, which are called synapses, feels and looks different from other games this game heavily takes its influences from. The game’s hub is where you do your upgrades, prepare your skills and get ready for your next mission, which will surprise no-one.
Germinating New Daughters. Sounds Weird When You Say It Out Loud
Here, in the hub, you can germinate new daughters using one of the game’s numerous currencies. You will be germinating new daughters over and over again due to how fragile they are and as I stated earlier, to feed them to other daughters in order to heal them. That whole sentence sounds wrong but it is exactly what is happening. You unlock new unit types, new skills and the tactical options you have over the course of the game are vast enough to keep the game fresh to the end.
Along with that your many daughters can gain traits, which are separate to their abilities and they cannot be changed. They are gained by their experiences in missions and what happens to them while out fighting the forces of darkness. These usually have a positive side and a negative side, and really add some dimension to each of your numerous units, making them all seem like real people with personalities.
Turn-Based Strategy Roguelike? How Novel!
On top of all this gothic, strategic, turn-based gameplay you have a layer of roguelike elements that I was not expecting but thoroughly enjoyed. I really like roguelikes but I did not even think they could be applied to this genre. As you are taking on missions, days pass which eventually leads to bosses and probably your inevitable death but in Othercide, with death comes new life and new opportunities.
Whenever you start a new game you get another currency, called Shards, which can be used on Remembrances, unlockable modifiers that make your next run slightly easier to manage, and will hopefully lead to you getting a bit further into the darkness. You can get things like more health, starting with more resources or even resurrecting fallen daughters. This system is another unique feature of Othercide which makes failure less painful and also makes you feel like you are always progressing, even in defeat.
Edgy Comic Book Visuals
I think my favourite part of Othercide is it’s very unique and brash presentation. Everything, bar a few dashes of red, is black and white. It gives the game a very attractive look that reminds me of old comics and the film Sin City. It’s visually striking and extremely attractive. It’s the thing that first drew me into the game and I think the art style really helps drive home the game’s dark, horrid themes.
The same goes for the game’s music, it’s thrashy, it’s heavy, and it perfectly accompanies the game’s art style, themes and presentation. As a whole, Othercide’s design and presentation go hand in hand and complement each other to make the whole game feel like a tapestry of darkness and horror, it’s simply beautiful. I also really enjoyed the narration, it reminds me a bit of The Darkest Dungeon, with the narrator saying things like “A wretched stench to mark a wretched horror” when you enter a battle. It just added another layer on top of a wholly horrid presentation style that I really appreciated.
On a technical level, I had a near-perfect experience. Apart from a tiny bit of lag sometimes with the game seeming to take a moment to register my button presses, the game performed well. I had zero issues, zero bugs and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience throughout.
A Nice, Dark, Dank Twist on The Genre
In conclusion, I would say that Othercide, while feeling familiar, does enough to set itself aside in the genre. Turn-based strategy fans, roguelike fans and fans of gothic horror can rejoice, this game ticks all those boxes and comes with a unique presentation that makes it stand out from the crowd. There is is a lot of room for tactical decisions in each battle and Othercide’s unique take on unit management is a nice touch. It’s dark, it’s dank but overall it’s one hell of a good time.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Othercide from the PlayStation Store here.