Title: Forced Showdown

Platform: Windows, Steam

Genre: Rogue-like, Action

Players: Single player





Written by Dragoon 29th January 2016















Forced Showdown by indie developer BetaDwarf is a unique mix of rogue-like and deck-building game elements. You select a hero and build a deck of cards containing spells, equipment and supporters to help you face a series of randomly generated arenas until you reach the final showdown with the boss monster. It’s a unique concept that has had a successful Kickstarter campaign so there’s definitely something there to make people think it is worth investing in. This isn’t BetaDwarfs first rodeo, having proved themselves before with their title Forced, so let’s see how this new offering is shaping up so far.

 

The first thing that stands out about the game is the previously mentioned blend of randomly generated rogue-like gameplay and deck-building elements. Each campaign consists of a random assortment of arenas with a boss at the end. Between each arena you gain one mana point which you can spend to activate one of the cards from your deck. These decks are fully customisable and you unlock new cards throughout the game which can give you various power-ups such as increased attack speed or the ability to summon a minion to help you out.  Selecting which of these cards to activate and when to do it offers a nice layer of tactical diversity.




























 

There are a wide range of heroes on offer and each brings something unique to the game. For example Volco, a hammer wielding fire warrior, can charge his basic attacks for increased damage whereas the Squire of Light focuses more on ranged offense with an explosive blast at the end of his normal combo. You can tailor a deck to suit each hero's style of play which keeps things interesting and allows you to improve on their inherent weaknesses or bolster their strengths.


The goal of each arena is to defeat every enemy whilst making sure to keep damage taken to a minimum since your health carries over between arenas. After a clearing a set amount of arenas you enter the final showdown with the boss of the campaign so if you took a lot of damage getting there you could be in for a rough fight. Facing a boss whilst close to death really gets the adrenaline pumping and actually pulling it off is always satisfying.


When it comes to fighting these enemies the combat unfortunately falls short of the mark. While your hero does have a range of abilities there is little in the way of tactical variety when it comes to using them so gameplay can just devolve into spamming them off of cooldown. Another issue with the game is that it becomes very hard to avoid taking damage at times since there can be a huge amount of enemies and traps in an arena.


The difficulty itself varies hugely between arenas, a few times the arena was over a few seconds after starting whereas in others it was a real grind to complete. This is mainly down to the random generation so whether you can beat a campaign comes down to luck in the end, this is a common feature in rogue-like games but it just feels straight up unfair at times. A little balancing would be appreciated but it is understandably difficult given the nature of the game.





























Graphically the game looks fine for this early stage, each hero has their own style and the arenas are varied and interesting. The enemies look okay but there is no overarching theme to them, when they are all onscreen they clash and don’t fit the arenas. It would look much better to have certain enemy themes for each arena, this would also allow you to plan ahead since you’d know what to expect which would enhance the deck building elements.


Audio is an area in which the game falls a little flat. The music is generic and the voice acting on offer is pretty hit and miss, some characters sound OK but others are just terrible, in particular the boss Ratbo who is damn near impossible to understand due to his terrible accent. The sound effects are OK but again it’s all fairly generic. This isn’t the greatest issue at the moment, at this alpha stage the focus should be on gameplay, but it may be something BetaDwarf could polish later on.

 

I mentioned Ratbo in the previous paragraph, a blatant reference to Rambo who speaks in a weird Arnold Schwarzenegger accent and spouts terrible one liners. He is a perfect example of the games over reliance on pop culture references. The game is constantly dropping these outdated references with no hint of subtlety, they aren’t all that funny and each character will constantly spew them out which becomes pretty grating. There is nothing wrong with using these references but when you rely on them this heavily it pays to take time to make them relevant and subtle. Right now all they are managing to do is make me sigh.

 

Overall Forced Showdown is an interesting concept so far but it could definitely use a little more time to polish up. The gameplay is fun if a little repetitive and it does offer some replayability which can only get better with time. The voice acting could use some work and it could do with some balancing when it comes to generating the arenas but altogether it’s an interesting game which, if done right, could end up being a pretty fun. We’ll keep our eyes on it and give it another look when it releases to see if any improvements have been made.


 

Written by,

Dragoon


















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