This week here at 3-Bit we have been in the Void playing Othercide, by Swiss- Franco Developers Lightbulb Crew. Othercide pits us against an army of darkness, in an Xcom style of turn-based strategy, in a race to stop the certain destruction of mankind. To overcome the looming threat we must raise an army of daughters, and stop the threat before the seeds of evil come to fruition. Othercide says right from the get-go that it will also expect us to fail, a lot, and with the failure will come the option to improve your army of daughters. Allowing them to hit back harder, and take more of a beating from some of the games savage-looking foes. But will this fail, to repeat gameplay be a message for the developers to try again, or was it a rising light in the dark? This review will answer the question below.
Using a square grid system Othercide’s gameplay is a relatively common feature in turn-based games and it hasn’t been revolutionised with different shapes or new ways of moving around the levels. This familiar to strategy gaming makes Othercide’s other dynamic elements stand out and shine a lot more, such as the use of Action points as a percentage, which allows each character to move, attack and move again, or make a barrage of continual attacks on a foe that can take a beating. The action points also play into the dynamic turn system, where the more points a character spends the longer they have to wait for their turn again, meaning there is a potential that if you spend all of your action points there is a possibility that the enemy could have 2, or 3 turns before that character can react to any changes to the board. Missions in Othercide are separated by days and stages by weeks. At the end of each week, you can fight a boss, however, in order to progress each day, you must complete at least 1 mission a day. With each mission, you risk comes equal reward, including 2 types of currency, one for now and one for if you fail to spend on upgrades. You are given the option to progress to the next stage early too, by challenging the boss before the week is up, however, if you fail then prepare to be punished in Othercides concept of failure, which you can find more details for below.
At the beginning of Othercide, we are graced with 3 classes of warrior Daughter. The Bladesmaster is a high damage, but low hit point melee character, capable of decimating foes with fast attacks. Standing by her side in battle is the Shieldbearer, a high character capable of making devastating triple attacks with her lance and bash enemies with her large kite shield. Bringing the support from afar we have the Soul Slinger, a dual revolver wielding dead eye, capable of not only standard ranged attacks but also decimating close quarters moves that will allow the Soul Slinger to put distance between herself and anybody who gets close. Later in the game, you will also unlock a fourth class known as the Sythedancer, however, we will not delve into her characteristics as she appears late into the game and we do not want to deliver any spoilers. The 3 main character types make for some incredibly dynamic teams. However, I feel that a degree of customisability, such as a range of different weapons, such as different blades or guns that affected range or action point spending, to shake up repetitive actions and allow for a greater range of tactical choices.
When it comes to tactical choices there are very few choices for you at the beginning of the game, you start with 2 basic attacks, but as you progress each character you will unlock further abilities that will allow you to hit harder, more skillfully or from a further range. Aside from basic attacks, you will also be able to learn reaction moves which will allow you to counter an enemy after they attack, interruption skills that will allow you to prevent an attack from enemies before they land a hit, instead, hitting them, and the final move set Delayed attacks, that will be performed later in the games turn counter. The delayed attacks are capable of massive damage, however, they also leave you open to equally as devastating attacks from the enemy. Correctly utilising these skills can allow you to complete missions without the enemy laying a finger on you, but you may still incur damage as some skills come at the cost of a small sacrifice to the character's health in place of action points.
The main gameplay concept of Othercide that stands out is that you are destined to fail multiple times, to come back again stronger and better than before. As your daughters take damage they do not heal by conventional terms. This is your first point of failure, as in order to bring them back to full strength you must, in turn, sacrifice another daughter of equal level or higher. This choice of sacrifice makes for some incredibly tough choices as you struggle to keep your strongest characters in the game ready for each stages boss. Of course, then there is a second failure to be considered and that is complete defeat, which happens if you lose to a boss, lose all of your daughters, or just surrender in the main menu. Ultimately however defeat does not mean the end for you, instead, you will be able to start the stage again, with new abilities and improved stats, and whilst this is a fun concept in the beginning, it can become a bit frustrating as you progress through several levels only to repeat the same missions all over again, seeing the same maps, and the same enemies. This can lead to some incredibly tedious moments that take you out of the beautifully designed levels and immersive gameplay.
Overall the gameplay to Othercide is great fun, with its great characters and tough choices, it is a shame that it gets taken away by its fail and repeat concept. Whilst this is an issue, Othercide does have a way to combat it, through defeating the bosses, allowing you to then skip that stage when you once again fail, a small victory to the repetition. However, when bosses can repeatedly spawn minions to put them in an indestructible state, as well as move and deal devastating damage in its attacks, it can become extremely difficult to surpass the climatic mission of each stage, dooming us, the player to more repetition, delaying the stories progression and preventing you from facing new challenges.
After the defeat of The Mother and her failure to save “The Child” during a cataclysmic event, we have been left to save the world from a larger and more destructive event. The mother has entrusted us with her daughters, who are prepped and battle-ready waiting for your say so to stop the child on his path to darkness, as he prepares to unleash suffering upon the world. On our journey to stop the child we have to overcome a few adversaries along with their dark minions, who want the child's goal to come into fruition. These foes all take hellish forms, from primordial beings to demonic entities. Whilst the story to Othercide does contain cinematic scenes they are often masked between text-based scenes, which set the scene or bring a more abridged story to Othercide. I would have liked to have seen a few more cinematic moments in Othercide, particularly during the dramatic intro mission. Even if it was just one introducing us to the daughters, in order to give a more personal touch to the game and make the choices of sacrifice a little bit harder and a little more personal. Whilst this is an Indie game I believe that if you are going to include such heavy-hitting and advanced features to the gameplay the story needs to pack as much of a punch. Especially when the game is over £30. It was a shame that the story to Othercide just misses the mark with delivering an in-depth story. However, the cutscenes and text scenes do deliver a loose story. Othercide just needed to add a few personal elements that could turn the game into a truly immersive experience.
Otherside features an incredible soundtrack, merging choral and metal right from the get-go. Just from the menu page alone, I knew I was going to enjoy the music in Othercide, and as I progressed through the campaign I found that even the music would change from a calming ambient song to a bassy metal strum as the heat of the battle grew. Along with the soundtrack, there was also a great degree of voice acting and though limited to a variety of phrases during the missions, standing out from the callouts of the Daughters and the enemies was the voice of The Mother. Portrayed by Olivia Mace, The Mothers voice echos both in missions and in the game's menus with a calming authority. Voices in Othercide match their characters perfectly, as the voice of the first boss and his plague doctor followers sound eerily happy about suffering as if it is the only way to cure illness, whilst other creatures portray whatever terror from beyond they represent.
When it comes to the design of Othercide, I can only describe it as striking, as the monotone theme that runs throughout the game is pierced by sharp reds, from the daughters, the “Red Mother” and from the blood that stains friend and foe alike. This noir design is what made Othercide stand out, as it draws you in and allows you to focus of the heart of the battle, whilst adding a more powerful appearance to what would usually be a relatively mundane street, based on the timescales that Othercide is set in. Continuing with some of the highlights from the graphics of Othercide the character models are presented especially well, from the in-game movements of the daughters and their foes to the close-up character models during cutscenes, critical moves and upgrade menus. The way each character has been designed draws you into every aspect of Othercide, as enemies that are hard to defeat look tougher and move in ways that represent they will be a challenge. Your Daughters are also incredibly represented, with them reacting to their injuries when inspecting them or how each and every one of them is capable of looking independent even though they all seem to share the same face. My only gripe is that there is no customisation with the character models, as all cosmetic options are randomised. If it were possible to customise your army of daughters, Othercide would feel a lot more immersive, as you will have committed time into your characters, meaning sacrifice and loss will be a harder choice to make as you hit the harder points of your current stage. With that being said you can name each Daughter, however, I feel that this, not enough of an option in terms of customisation to care about who I sacrifice and if any fall.
Overall Othercide is a good turn-based strategy that has some great features and an awesome look. It is just a shame that it also carries features and options that don’t pack as much of a punch as you would expect them too, leading to tedious and repetitive gameplay moments, that could be overcome by more level designs for each stage, or a more randomised layout for enemy placement, which would prevent you from reusing strategies that you already know work flawlessly for each map to your death. I found that as I failed due I would eventually begin to rush and get impatient with repeating missions, which on the odd occasion took me out of the game, where I would usually be lost in planning my next move as the enemy makes there's I felt that I was just waiting to get the mission done with zero additional thoughts to my actions. If it wasn’t for these minor personal gripes that I have mentioned throughout this review, Othercide could have easily become my favourite new strategy game, as it looks incredible in its graphics and has an awesome soundtrack. When you are facing new threats and in the more challenging parts of the stage Othercide does feel amazing too, with smooth combat that can at times feel incredibly fast-paced especially during a boss fight that you have a chance of winning. That is Why Othercide gets a 7/10. With more time and more work on the story, Othercide could have easily become a stronger title than the likes of XCOM and the recently popular Mutant: Year Zero.