The “thumbs up” above is not a rousing endorsement—think of it as me being hopeful that this will be worth the early access price over time. (In other words, if you are likely to be interested in this at some point, now might be the time to cash-in with the early access scheme—that’s a nice way of me saying it may not be worth much more than this price later on, in case the price changes.)
If you are looking at this store page, it is likely you are familiar with the previous title “Afterfall: Insanity,” a third-person apocalyptic shooter by the same dev, Intoxicate. I run a blog which discusses what I call “crappy games,” which are basically generally unknown, overlooked gems. I’ve written an in-depth review of Insanity here: http://wkduffy.wordpress.com/category/afterfall-insanity-pc-2011-poland/
There were many detractors of that game—professional reviewers (the few that bothered with it) were pretty middling about it, and your average player was probably irritated by the game more than anything. I personally liked Insanity quite a bit, even for as rough as it was. The characters were neat (you play as a disenchanted, not entirely likeable therapist-turned-brawler in an underground shelter—that’s new territory), the environments were top-notch really (especially the disabused underground ark where the remnants of humanity have holed up), and there was a pretty good sense of a journey from the beginning to the end of the narrative (which made at least 75% sense, which was good enough.) Finally exiting the ark and seeing the devaststed world outside (after years of being in shelter) was an especially neat moment about midway through the game—and Intoxicate hit the note dead-on. Of course, the gameplay itself was stiff, combat was awkward at times, and some of the voicework was rough…all the things you expect from an indie developer.
So, I bought this early access of Reconquest and just finished playing it. It’s rough, as expected. It’s a tiny slice of what promises to be a much bigger apocalyptic experience, since the plan is for it to be episodic in nature. If you are familiar with Insanity, it’s worth noting that the developers here seem to be taking a different track in some respects—which makes it feel a bit less connected to the first game than I thought. First, I’m not sure how well the narrative will connect to the first game—at present it feels like it is only connected in that it is all located in the same universe, but a bit further down the timeline from Insanity. It would appear that none of the characters from the first game will be present, but who knows. On the contrary, the spikey-shouldered, lumbering mutant men (who lope along like apes running on almost all fours) from Insanity are present, as well as human enemies who shoot at you. The characters on display here seem to have certain abilities (draining enemies) and gear (personal energy shield) that were not present in the first game (or maybe I just don’t remember them). Stylistically, it’s still the apocalypse, and the destroyed environments are something that Intoxicate does fairly well, actually. Lots of details provide a good, wrecked atmosphere of a civilization trying to rise from the ashes—reminds me a lot of the first game overall.
However, if I am remembering Insanity correctly, this Reconquest alpha seems to be using a different camera angle—the protagonist is further away on screen. (The protag, Albert Tokai, from Insanity was rather large in screen, reminding me of Isaac in Dead Space, as far as screen position and size—many others have made this same reference). In Reconquest though, it appears the camera has been pulled way back and up from that position. Hence, the shooting is not as over-the-shoulder as it was in the first game. You may like this or not (I don’t like it as much in Reconquest—it almost looks like a typical MMO-sized character from this perspective, and it feels too removed from the action, less immediate), but thought I’d point that out. Of course, this may be something that will change over time too.
As it stands now, this alpha is tough. The difficulty is way out of balance (to be expected), I fell through the floor a few times here and there, and had to rely on checkpoints to make it through. Also, I ended up doing tasks before I knew why I was
doing them, just because I traveled the map in a particular way. The end of the alpha here ends in a text dialogue with another character, and Intoxicate seems to be attempting to include branching dialogue choices in the game. This could be good, could be bad. Very little of the text is in standard English, though, at this point. But English-language speakers should be able to wade through the second-language interference—in other words, you’ll understand it fine anyway.
My suggestion is to opt-in now if at least halfway interested…with high hopes that Intoxicate will actually deliver said game, of course. They’ve done it once before with Insanity—and that was even in retail-box form as well—so at least we’ve got something that feels like a guarantee, even if it’s not.