Steam Greenlight “Hammerwatch” Early Review

Parahmansa and I have been searching frantically for some multiplayer baddie bonking to do between our FFXIV beta tests and League sessions. We haven’t gotten back to Cube World yet, but we should be soon–provided we do it before the FFXIV early access happens *wink wink*.

Usually, this involves about an hour or two looking through Steam, IGN, and MMORPG.com to see what’s around, and possibly Slickdeals for any upcoming sales. Most of the time, we end up with disappointment, not gonna lie. But, everyone once in a while we uncover a little gem that keeps us busy for a few days. This is one of them, no lie.

Arrows and blades everywhere!

Hammerwatch is a rather simple indie game similar to a hybrid of roguelike games and the classic Gauntlet series. Or, if you remember it, more alike the Super Smash TV games from the SNES. Player(s) pick from a small variety of classes (Paladin, Ranger, Wizard, and Warlock) and hit the dungeon. While given a few lives (so less forgiving than true roguelikes), the level of challenge of the game teeters between difficult at times, to cakewalk at others.

The point of the whole operation is simple– get through the dungeon floors alive and beat the bosses. Now, do so with hordes of monsters of various types coming at you, little direction as to where to go and what to do to interact with the world, and loads of secrets to be found. There you have it–Hammerwatch!

Graphically, this one hearkens back to the golden days of local multiplayer 16 bit pixel art, coupled with higher resolutions and graphical effects (bloom, occlusion, etc) for lighting and effects. Options are included to adapt the screen for an even more nostalgic feel, like interpolation, scan lines, and even a curvature effect like those old CRT monitors used to have. Very cool, if nothing else.

Duo action is a blast–for optimal killing, try duo rangers. Bombs and arrows for days.

Gameplay wise, the classes play somewhat differently. Although still early in development, being a Greenlight game on Steam, the variety is quite noticeable, although I feel some balancing issues may need to be addressed. The Paladin is your average tank, with lots of health, a sword to help him wade through foes and push them back from his allies, and a dashing slash as a special attack. The warlock uses a knife to attack with, as well as knife throwing spells as a special–being a quicker character to boot, but still tankier than the other caster. The Wizard uses fireballs to throw at his enemies, while breathing fire like a dragon for his special–but he’s quite the glass canon. The Ranger, in my opinion vastly overpowered, uses his bow and arrows (which penetrate their targets a few deep and can be upgraded further), and lays down bombs that blow up much like those found in Zelda or Bomberman games.

Although no experience or leveling system exists, there are plenty of upgrades to be purchased from various (usually hidden) vendors, such as additional health, combo rewards for mass genocide, weapon upgrades, armor upgrades, and potion upgrades. Even move speed, critical hit rate, and various other features can be purchased. The good news is loot is given to everyone when one person picks up gold, so there’s no fighting over gold or glory, or needing to share between each other to ensure everyone can afford what they need.

Floor 2 is a dangerous place for a lone warlock…

Hammerwatch can be played over a LAN, online, or even truly locally (multiple controllers, one system), finally giving players something they can play together without everyone buying the game themselves, or with the fun of sitting on the couch to whack each other for wasting the shared lives.

Lots of fun, and certainly something to keep an eye on. If you like it, give the developer’s a kick back and an early order through your Steam account!

You can always check out the official development page here also: http://www.hammerwatch.com/

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