A Knight´s Quest, Bomber Crew and Racing Apex – Curve Digital – Gamescom 2017

Besides my already written previews of Devolver´s and PQube´s Gamescom line-up, I also visited Curve Digital to check some of their upcoming, very promising games out. Let me say that much, all of them are pretty interesting and may also come to Switch sooner or later!

We play as Rusty, a quirky little boy, who accidentally releases en evil spirit upon his world and has to fix his mistake now. Drawing heavily from classics like The Legend of Zelda or Metroid, A Knight´s Quest aims to spice these well-known mechanic up with its own style.

From what I´ve seen at Gamescom, it actually has the potential to live up to the promises. Starting off as a fairly basic character, only equipped with a Sword and Shield, which can´t really do much than killing enemies, we´re able to find two other essential weapons during our journey. Both, the Flame Bracers and Frozen Hammer have their own special abilities, that allow us to reach new areas or collectibles. Naturally, A Knight´s Quest has a “linear open world”, filled with coins to  collect. Everyone familiar with Metroidvanias should know the procedure of slowly unlocking more paths and collect more stuff. The combat itself is also nothing too special, playing very similar to every other 3D action adventure, yet, it seems to be pretty hard at some points.

However, it also combines them with a lot of other great elements and a unique style. A Knight´s Quest features a lot of the elements we can see in the latest Zelda, like crafting bombs or other additional things, to surprise our enemies and get the upper hand. Combined with some great design the devs talked about, for example, how they try to place every coin in plain sight but make it hard to reach at the same time. Even a “Spirit Mode” is present, where we become leave our body as a Ghost to solve certain platforming passages on a time limit.

While all those mechanics are nothing too new, the style A Knight´s Quest presents itself is the main reason, why you should be excited about it. Featuring a look between comic and “plastic”, painted in a colourful, simply cheerful way,I instantly feel in love with it. Enhanced with a great sense of humour from what I´ve seen so far, not afraid of letting the amazing designed characters break the 4th wall, A Knight´s Quest can create a similar effect as its role models, yet, in its own way.

Surely, nothing about the gameplay is totally new but they work since ages, so why changing them? A Knight´s Quest rather focuses on defining itself through its presentation and humour, which works as charming as I anticipated, making A Knight´s Quest one of the big surprises of this year´s Gamescom.

A Knight´s Quest will release in 2018 on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch

 

 

Bomber Crew on the other hand is something totally different, mixing roguelike elements with some heavy FTL influences. Revolving completely around the name giving Bomber Crew, their missions in the second world war and the dangers that came with them.

Like in FTL, everything begins with us choosing an aircraft, a crew to fly, shoot the guns, repair it and start missions. On the other hand, Bomber Crew isn´t as unforgiving as FTL, so, if our aircraft gets destroyed or crew members killed, we still lose any progress we made on them but the game itself doesn´t go Game Over. Still, considering how valuable each individual crew member can become, once we leveled him up a bit or equipped him with some of the dozens armors or items, it´s hard to lose even one of them.

Yet, Bomber Crew is far more than just a FTL clone. Each mission may mostly consist of flying to a target to bomb but quickly become a pure adrenaline trip. Since we don´t directly control the plane, rather giving orders to the crew, we have to manage nearly everything about it. From fuel usage, to route planning, defenses, crew orders, who knows FTL can imagine how hectic it can get. The true potential of Bomber Crew shows as soon as enemy planes appear, forcing us into a management hell.

Not only we need to ensure, that every crew member is at his position but also need to keep it flying when we´re hit. Featuring a full-blown damage model of the plane, that determines damage (a hit on the wing isn´t as bad as one on the cockpit after all) and repair location, we´re really put under pressure. Should we send our crew member to repair our oxygen tank or the fuel tank? We can even send them on the wings to repair them, even though it´s easy to get them killed in this case. This damage model is certainly Bomber Crew´s biggest strength and unique feature, particularly the amount of different damage “locations” and effects the devs implemented totally blew me away.

The graphics on the other hand are more of a mixed bag. Certainly the bombers themselves look absolutely stunning, featuring a lot of details, both in undamaged or damaged state, yet, the character designs are more a hit or miss. Personally, I didn´t find them too appealing but didn´t have a big problem with them, they´re just a bit … too in between a “blocky” and “detailed” look, I would say. Nonetheless, once the action started, I quickly forgot about them and was blasted away by the sheer amount of things going on.

Overall, Bomber Crew is one hell of an interesting game, transporting the well working FTL formula in a new setting, topped by new mechanics and giant amount of management. Even though I was already pretty interested in it, seeing it in action was something completely else and you would be a fool to ignore this game.

Bomber Crew will launch on 19th October 2017 on PC and on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch in early 2018

 

 

Racing Apex is quite an ambitious game, aiming to deliver a racing experience similar to Mario Kart but with a more mature theme and expanded battle modes. After my Hands-On experience I can say, that it certainly has the potential to fulfill this goal but is still some miles away.

While Racing Apex will feature a “campaign” for each character in some sort, it will mostly outline some rough background and the clear focus are the races against friends. Offering eight drivers, 32 cars (4 for every driver) and 16 tracks, the promised content is something to behold. In contrast to the simplified Mario Kart, every car also has some sort of unique handling, depending on the engine position, form and much more, giving them an extra layer of depth. I might not be huge racing game fan but even I noticed some handling differences between the ~4 cars I used.

The two tracks showcased to me, showed off some really cool environments, build in its unique polygonal style, straight outta the early years of video gaming. I could catch a glimpse of some of the upcoming tracks as well and most of them looked really promising, set in their little themes. Yet, if you´re not a fan of the untextured polygon graphics, nothing of that matters, I personally have a problem with the character designs of some. Nowadays, not many games use this style, so Racing Apex´s approach is fresh but experimental, for sure.

On the other hand, during my session, the fact, it´s still in Pre-Alpha got quickly visible too. Racing Apex aims to deliver a more mature Mario Kart but the handling is simply too hard at the moment, suffering from a very drifting, spongy feedback, which made the cars super easy to crash. However, it was still a very early build and the devs wanted to overhaul the handling anyways, so, time will tell.

The battle mode on the other hand, that sadly wasn´t available to play, seemed very interesting. Offering a PvP car battle with real guns like gatling guns or rocket launchers, combined with a very detailed damage model, due to the polygonal built cars. In theory, every polygon object could break from the car by itself. I never really liked Mario Kart´s baloon battle for example, so, this mode sounded super interesting, especially because of the wide possibilities of the technical framework.

At the end, Racing Apex seems to be a very ambitious game and from what I´ve seen, considering it´s still in Pre-Alpha, it has the potential to succeed. Topped by the unique graphics, it has everything it needs to become a great, distinctive racing game, definitely worth observing.

Racing Apex will release in 2018

 

To summarize, all of Curve Digital´s upcoming games were unique and interesting in their own ways. They even caught me quite off guard when I saw how good they actually are! I even got a damn action pigeon from them, how could I complain about any of these games? Curve Digital is definitely something to behold, as you learned in my preview then!

 

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