Assault Spy (Early Access) (P)review – Basement Inc.
Publisher: NIS America
Release: 7th May 2018
I´m not a huge fan of Early Access reviews, primarily because they´re still unfinished products, not even guaranteed to be completed. However, with Assault Spy, I just couldn´t help myself. First shown at NIS America´s press conference, it struck me as a super unique looking action game, which is sure to be completed when a “big” publisher is behind it. So, long story short, after playing the 2-3 hours long version available right now, I have the following to say:
Set in a world dominated by giant companies, Asaru and Amelia are two self-proclaimed master-spies, ready to take any offer they can. This time, they´re tasked with infiltrating yet another mega-corporation called Negabot. An interesting foundation for some capitalism critic or super cliché jokes actually. Advertising itself with a two-sided campaign is another neat thing as well when you take a look at the Early Access page. Sadly, none of those things can be experienced in the current version, since it only offers Asaru as a playable character and the first two chapters of his story, lasting around 2 hours or so.
Nonetheless, I can talk about the combat system that´s already there, which aims for a fast-paced third-person action experience. Honestly, a hard task considering how fluent, responsive and diverse the system has to be. The Chinese indie developer behind Assault Spy can´t obviously reach the heights of a PlatinumGames, yet, does a pretty decent job nonetheless. At the moment, there´s everything for a promising base, light/heavy attacks which can be chained together for a handful of combos, aerial moves and finishers. Given, after 5 minutes or so, I saw and used every combo the game offers, simply repeating them for the next hours, without ever gaining new moves. At times, the finishers or heavy attacks also tend to feel rather clunky, as they don´t chain seamlessly together. Despite those flaws, I´m certain Wazen can create a diverse experience if they add enough new moves to Asaru and present another neat one with Amelia. Though, if they let it stay like this, the combat system is nothing more than a base.
The other big part of the Early Access build are the two bosses we get to fight. Spoiler, they´re not that great. While their movesets are big enough for a boss, with dodges, teleports, projectile attacks, shields or counters, their hitboxes and attack windows seem off. On the one hand, the time between a boss announces his attack and the execution is far too short if you´re close up. Why? Because the hitboxes tend to be bigger than the actual attack, projectiles, in particular, resulting in more hits without even getting hit. On the other hand, you often can only get 2-3 hits in, before they teleport away. Combined with their huge health bars, those fights feel more like stretched, boring events than highlights.
What´s most striking of all those things, is Assault Spy´s presentation. Presenting itself as a stylish third-person action game, the art style should remind many of the iconic Killer is Dead. With the mostly black and white colour palette, infused with colourful explosions and effects, combined with a very unique cel-shading look, just looking at the game is fascinating. Combined with pretty fun enemy design (we´re pretty much fighting giant signs), as well as a decent soundtrack, I ended up enjoying its style alone. Luckily, the meaningless conversations (so far) aren´t long and easily skippable, though illustrated with equally stylish images, makes the whole thing fast enough to support its action. Only the animations still look stiff, hopefully, there will be improvements in the coming months.
At the moment, Assault Spy doesn´t pack a whole lot of content, which isn´t even that enjoyable or great. For people who are truly fascinated by its art style the 19.99 might be an okay price, yet, there is just nothing more than the basement for a hopefully good game here, making this decent Early Access build hard to recommend. It´s great to see NIS America supporting Chinese indie devs though!
[A Review Code was provided by NIS America]