Welcome to the war against the Suffering, daughters, you will die many times - as many as Games Xtreme have to bring you this review!
Big thanks to PR for this one!
A Gothic Anime Nightmare
Othercide is a disturbing game in many ways, and on many levels. It challenges you in a fundamental way, to battle hideous monsters and fight revulsion of the evil that it portrays on screen. The aesthetic of this game is brilliant in that way. It is starkly grey scale, black and white, with splashes of colour and brings to mind the stylings of certain anime shows.
You are going to be playing a long, hard, and tactical game with this one.
The creation of Lightbulb Crew, and published by Focus Home Interactive, Othercide is nightmarish in both world and difficulty. Fortunately, it's also a rogue-like game, which means you will fail, you will lose your Daughters of the Red Mother and you will need to rise again - and again - and again.
Each time you fail you will get stronger, it's the nature of the beast. From defeat comes victory, and the reward for winning one of the many turn-based tactical battles that lie before you in the game is all the sweeter for it.
Daughters of the Red Mother, arise.
You'll have your work cut out for you as you battle the armies of the game's wicked protagonist, the Suffering. I'm not going to dive deeply into the lore of the game, only to say it's rich and full of interesting plot details and characterisations. The world-building here is in a word: spectacular. Thankfully, you are not without your own army, your own means of battling the enemy.
Enter the Daughters of the Red Mother, vestiges of her warrior spirit and a powerful tool against the forces thrown at you at every turn.
At its core, Othercide is a tactical turn-based RPG with a rich backstory and compelling gameplay - this is one of the best turn-based games I've played since X-Com and its certainly winning marks for innovation and sheer audacity too. It's a bold step to throw rogue-like mechanics into a turn-based unit style game and mix them together seamlessly.
To battle the Suffering's endless, and varied army, you have three types of Daughters.
The Blademaster: Powerful, up close and personal, great at support.
The Shieldbearer: Defensive, good at protecting allies, great at crowd control.
The Soulslinger: A supportive long-range daughter, capable and great to set up combos with other daughters.
Knowing the strengths, weaknesses, abilities and skills of the three daughters is one facet of success in the game. I'm not going to dive into any of that here though, since that's more for a walkthrough, or even a guide to the game than a review. Each daughter plays differently and can be granted a variety of skills and abilities as you progress through the game.
Timeline of Battle
Anyone who has played a turn-based game will know what's coming, or at least know how to control their units and battle the forces of the Suffering. There's a decent tutorial which shows you many of the game's early elements, allows you to cut loose and find your feet. Then as you progress you will be given other tutorials, mixed in and these drip-feed the management skills and knowledge you need to get to grips with the other systems of the game. The tutorials are good, solid, and explain everything you need to know.
So, what of the timeline?
Based on your daughter's stats, what skills and abilities they have, and what you bring over from the last run (remember: Rogue-like) you will be placed somewhere with your enemies on the initiative timeline. Left good, right, not so good. Unless you're placed before the forces of the Suffering.
You can act when you reach the left-hand side of the timeline, and some powers can push you back, or your foes back all the way to the right. Key to victory here is mastering the dynamic timeline and learning how to set up moves in advance to give you the best possible outcome when you're battling the enemy.
By thinking this through, combat becomes an animated and intricate dance of moves/counter moves and hopeful victory.
Fail against one foe, perhaps you'll lose your daughters or at least one or two.
Death is not the end. There's always another Recollection (run) and you can buff your new daughters with Remembrances (perks they can take in, or even bright a favoured daughter back from death).
You will die, a lot. This is a brutal and unforgiving game where mistakes are dealt with by the Suffering's forces harshly. Yet it never feels unfair, each mistake you make will teach you something else and the AI doesn't feel as though it's cheating at all.
Even in the spectacular boss fights, which will push your tactical thinking to the limit.
Dark Animated Aesthetic Combat
The quality of the art here, the sheer levels of design, and the stark gothic beauty of Othercide's world-design, as well as the character design gleams through. Presented in a gritty, grim-dark fashion layered across with beautiful splashes of red anime design - this is a gorgeous game for anyone who loves a little Bram Stoker style gothic imagery in their life.
The animation is extremely well done, the actions of the enemies and allies are fluid and the combats are spectacular when the timeline plays out before your eyes.
The sound is gorgeous and the voice work is excellent, dripping with character and disturbingly written (beautiful) dialogue.
Punishing but Fair
This is a rogue-like game, there's death around every corner, the difficulty as mentioned previously might put you off, but stick with it and you'll discover more and more to like about the game and the systems that lie deeper before the first few encounters. How to spend your memories on the daughters, how to make best use of the healing mechanic - where you must make a burdened choice to sacrifice one of your skilled units so that another might be healed, thus, winning the day and beating back the Suffering once more.
It runs beautifully on an Xbox One X and there are no actual issues I can speak of, the punishing difficulty is a feature, and if one compares it to *Souls games in that regard, it's baked in and meant to be so.
There's more I'd like to say about the game's systems, about many of the features deeper on in, but these are spoilers for things that brought me a genuine sense of accomplishment and I'd rather anyone who does decide to give this gothic tactical turn-based RPG a go, find out for themselves.
Othercide might not be everyone's cup of tea, but this is one of the best turn-based combat systems I've seen in a while - give it a go and see what you think. It's out, now.
In the words of Nemesis the Warlock from 2000 AD, "Credo."