If you’re familiar with The Behemoth, then I’d wager you place their games in a few quick categories; they’re fun, they’re usually funny, they have a unique art style and they can be exceptionally tough.
It’s with that track record that I went to see Game 4. The Behemoth doesn’t like to name their games until they’re a bit closer to release, so this is Game 4 for now. Who knows what they’ll call it? We’ve had Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers and Battle Block Theater so far, and when I talked to Community Manager Megan Lam about why they make new games instead of the sequels a chunk of their fans ask for, she offered that they want to try new stuff.
“If we made Alien Hominid 2, we might not have made Castle Crashers.” She’s absolutely right.
That’s always the case. Each game has gotten more diverse and unique. We had a run and gun platformer, a tougher group hack ‘n slash and then an insane platformer based on the ravings of an island owning man in a top-hat. Now? With Game 4 we’re entering the world of tactical strategy. Yep, a turn-based hex arena fighter with an open world story.
Guess what… It’s awesome. In fact, after just 30 minutes with Game 4, I can easily see myself sinking more time into this Behemoth affair than any other in their run, and that says a lot.
It starts with narration work from Will Stamper, the same voice behind the narrator from BattleBlock Theater. His work there was fantastic, and what I’ve heard of his work in Game 4 is just as good. Though, and here’s what’s a little strange, it’s super dark. The things he says are twisted, and that sort of contributes to the overall disturbed tone of the game.
Yes, you might be freeing cupcake clerics from the clutches of their bandit leaders, but there’s this overwhelming sense of impending doom from the narration by stamper and the fog of war that surrounds you as you move about the map.
See, all the movement in the exploration portions of Game 4 is, essentially, point and click through hex. It isn’t turn-based at this moment, it’s just sort of this giant, open game board of a world. You’ll run into enemies on your way to a quest (or perhaps beating the enemies is the quest itself), and then you’ll engage in combat.
The combat is the turn-based hex form. Move your troops in tactical strategy fashion, go for the opponents they’ll be strong against… Helmet wearing foes? Send the combatant with the mace instead of the sword. Beat your opponents, collect your loot and head back to town.
You’ll find all sorts of stuff in town, but that’s the special place where you’ll find your house. In your house, you can customize your combatants. You’ll be able to recruit team members through the game, though some are story driven while others are just for the sake of building your army. Once you recruit them, you can customize them with new hats, armor, weapons and so forth. There’s a sense of balance in the game in that making yourself too armored will slow you down and give you less movement on the hex board. At the same time, being too lightweight will give you terrible defense and possibly bad attack.
It’s a balancing act. I found that Game 4 is a massively complex game compared to what else The Behemoth has done. Any other reservations I might have had about the title have sort of vanished at this point.
Game 4 doesn’t have a release date yet. I imagine we’ll see it on the Xbox One, seeing as that’s what was in front of me during my time at PAX East, and perhaps the PC. When? Don’t know. Stay tuned.