Gamescom 2017 Preview: Devolver Digital´s Swords of Ditto, RUINER and Crossing Souls
At this year´s Gamescom I had the opportunity to play some of Devolver Digital´s upcoming new games of this and next year. From an extended 1 hour-long demo of Swords of Ditto (having the last appointment of the day has its benefits), to Crossing Souls or the soon releasing RUINER. So, let´s briefly talk about these titles and see if they are actually any good.
In its heart RUINER is a top down Shooter, similar in speed to Hotline Miami. Set in the year 2091 we´re taking over control of a psychopath who goes into battle against the giant corporate HEAVEN. Completely playing in the cybercity Rengkok, we slaughter our way through the hordes of evil agents and bosses.
However, in contrast to other famous fast paced top down Shooters, RUINER doesn´t only offer basic attack and movement options. During the shown mission I quickly learned, that I can not only equip melee weapons but also guns (with one of both being equipped as default) and even dash. Especially dashing is extremely important, due to the various bullets flying around on the screen. Additionally to the basic dash, RUINER also implemented a really unique “planned dash”-mode, as I like to call it. Once activated we can set different way points to which our character will dash, opening a whole array of tactical options to the gameplay. Learning enemy movement pattern is a huge part of mastering RUINER, since we can´t outrun them, we have to predict where they´ll be going, to be able to kill them.
During said planning mode, the time slows down, so we don´t have to worry about getting shot, even though it´s still very possible to get hit. At the same time RUINER even offers abilities, like a bullet absorbing shield, if the bullets and enemies seem to overwhelmed me, the shield was always a great help. In combination with the fact we can take at least 3-4 hits before dying, the dash mode, melee weapons and guns (we always carry both of them), RUINER may seem like a cyberpunk Hotline Miami, yet does enough unique things to stand out.
Especially the sheer amount of new features overwhelmed me, letting me forget some of them when I tried to stay alive in the arenas full of enemies, RUINER throws at us. Despite its various damage avoiding options RUINER is still a very fast, difficult and adrenaline filled game, the first boss on “normal” was a nearly unbeatable challenge. The dark, great looking cyberpunk world and amazing soundtrack don´t only give RUINER a brutal, merciless atmosphere but also gets the adrenaline pumping even more.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time with RUINER and can rest assured that Reikon Games created their own, unique take on the genre, that needs to be mastered.
RUINER releases on the 26th September 2017 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
In Crossing Souls we take over the control of 6 different teenager friends, living in a little stereotypical town of the 80s. Everyday they meet in their tree house, go on adventures or just hang out. Until, one day, they find a corpse and with it a little purple pyramid, that allows them to see ghosts, and so the race to unravel the mysteries around the events is on foot.
Broken down, Crossing Souls is a pixel action adventure game, heavily inspired by the 80s. I played the prologue of the game, where we collect the six different friends and find the purple pyramid, allowing me to see the differences between each of them and the basic gameplay. If you ever played an action adventure with different characters, between you can freely switch, you basically know what Crossing Souls has to offer.
Everyone has their own abilities, use cases, and playstyle (except the little brother, he can just poop), Matt is the mad scientist kid for example. Overall, the gameplay isn´t too special, at least from what I´ve seen in the demo, there are already so many games with this concept and Crossing Souls adds nothing new to it.
However, the reason I still loved what I saw was the world and presentation. While the gameplay is unsurprisingly safe played, the pixel art looks simply gorgeous, just look at it and the 80s inspired cut scenes look pretty damn fantastic as well. In nearly every minute Crossing Souls could either impress me with its cut scenes or gorgeous looking surroundings, even though I didn´t see much of the writing.
Yet the most charming aspect of Crossing Souls is its world. Filled with little conversations, stories, collectibles or just great looking places. The starting area itself was already cramped with little details, easily enough to provide an extra round just exploring it. The sheer amount of love and details put into it gives Crossing Souls the needed amount of personality combined with the lovely 80s theme. Sadly I wasn´t able to see as much of the game as I wanted to, otherwise I could tell you a bit more here.
If they can nail the writing and story about teenagers and their struggle to become adults as well as the atmosphere and world, Crossing Souls will surely be a treat for every pixel action adventure fan.
Crossing Souls releases 2017 for PC and PS4
By far my most anticipated game of Devolver´s lineup, The Swords of Ditto, was also at Gamescom and I had the opportunity to play the whole 1 hour-long demo and it was a blast.
The Swords of Ditto revolves around a world dominated by evil and a hero who awakens every 100 years to save the world from darkness. Obviously we are playing this sacred hero but once we die, the world will go another 100 years into darkness, making it grimmer than before. This cycle of evil doesn´t only sound great but also enables some neat rogue like options, to make every run interesting.
Due to the fact I didn´t see much of the randomization or cycle I´ll put that aside and focus on the things I did see. The Swords of Ditto is essentially a 2D action adventure, where we slash our way through dozens of enemies and bosses, to save the world of the evil. Yet, once we die, we lose everything except our level and have to start anew in a darker world. The whole game can also be played in co-op, making it the perfect fit for some fun time with basically anyone.
Every playthrough consists of exploring the world and conquering the sword temple at the end. In order to do so, we have to find equipment first, often in form of toys, which are essentially equipable objects comparable to Legend of Zelda´s items. These can be found in various dungeons, guarded by enemies, puzzles and bosses. In the demo I (and one of the devs) went in a dungeon dominated by dimension puzzles, a rather unsurprising one at that. At the end we faced a boss consisting of 2 former heroes, attacking us with music discs. After beating this pretty hard boss the game actually rewarded us by giving us the exact disc weapon the boss used, neat.
This newly found weapon could then be used in a dungeon, specifically made for it, specific toys will all feature their own dungeon, randomly generated and full of riddles only solveable with this toy. Compared to the previously seen unsurprisingly standard dungeon, the disc dungeon was a real blast, full of cool, unique ideas. The fact we can fast travel from one location to another, once we discovered them, provide some great comfort to encourage us to unlock previously locked dungeons or areas.
The Swords of Ditto in general doesn´t do much new for its genre but wraps them into a charming, beautiful, heartwarming coat, that you have to love. Drawing heavy inspiration from Adventure Time and other cartoons, there are dozens of details in the art style and everything looks simply amazing. The developers aim at delivering a game and graphics everyone can enjoy, no matter which age, and things like the giant robot foot coming from the sky, showed me, that The Sword of Ditto can definitely achieve its goal.
After my demo I actually felt happy deep in my heart and enchanted by the pure charm of The Swords of Ditto, despite its objective lack of any revolutionary things. Keep an eye on this game!
The Swords of Ditto releases in (March) 2018 for PS4 and PC
To summarize, every single of Devolver Digital´s upcoming games shown to me at Gamescom were actually pretty great. Especially The Swords of Ditto looks even more promising after my extended demo but games like RUINER or Crossing Souls all have their own great gimmicks indie games are known for and you should definitely check them out once they release!
Oh, and more Gamescom 2017 coverage is on its way, it just needs some time since I won´t try to get as many clicks as possible by writing short previews for every game on its own.