09/06/2022

๐Ÿ˜ฑ Source of Madness Xbox Series X Review 6/10 "A 'Nearly' Game" ๐Ÿ˜ฑ @CarryCastle #IndieGames #GameDev

Share This Post On Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share This Post On

It's happened again. 
Anything with 'Lovecraft' in the description is summarily thrown my way by the GamesFreezer gods, so this landed in my inbox before I'd even heard of it. 

Source of Madness is a roguelike action platformer, wherein the best traditions of the genre, each run is designed to teach you more about the game before your next attempt. 

The Lovecraft connection comes in through atmosphere, tentacled monsters and the odd reference to Cthulhu or Azathoth here and there.

You take control of one of a series of Acolytes, whose objective is to defeat the great evil that has overcome the Loam Lands. To do this, you battle through procedurally-generated levels using weapons and armour whose stats are randomised a la the Diablo series. As you progress you can unlock new items to drop into the world, different character classes and helpful features like health vials or extra dash abilities.
The procedural nature of the game is both a blessing and a curse. The levels themselves range from darkened villages, caves, and forests as well as (of course) the evil-infested surface of the moon. 

The graphics have a nice hand-drawn edge that is nonetheless dark and oppressive and suits the game, even if it is a little difficult to know where you're going sometimes. 

The music is good, and the monster sound effects are pretty horrible, with organic-sounding clicks and pops accompanying the roars. The monsters themselves are formed from a soup of teeth, limbs, claws and other bits, and attack in lots of different ways to keep you on your toes. 
Apparently, the behaviour is determined by neural network AI which attempts to react to and counter your specific playstyle, which sounds cool and interesting. The downside of this is that it's difficult to defend against or avoid what feels like essentially random attacks. It reminds me of being the best in my university flat at Tekken 2, but I would lose every. single. time. to my housemate who just picked Eddy Gordo and button-bashed his way to victory, the prick.

As you play through each run you build up a couple of different types of currency, which you use to move up the skill trees. Initially, you only have one character class to choose from, but as you discover more things the game opens up a little. 

At the start of each run, you pick from three Acolytes with differing stats, and as you discover new classes they start popping up as options. You'll use the Pyromancer, who wields fire and takes reduced fire damage, the Geomancer who uses nature magic and so on. Unlocking each class lets you move on to unlocking their special weapons, like the slow-firing but super-powerful fireball ring, or the bamboo attack that fires in all directions if you charge it up. 
The only problem is that you can spend tons of currency on a new ability (which drops immediately for that run but is only part of the RNG pool from then on), and it turns out to be rubbish, which leaves you a bit flat. And you can suffer from the standard problem of having an amazing loadout on one run, but picking up nothing but rubbish in the next one. Although it's a bit churlish to complain about it in this game, given the same thing happened in Hades, the pinnacle of the genre.

All of these things add up to a really tough game. The problem is that in other hard games - think of your early attempts at playing Hades - you feel like you're making genuine progress. The random aspects of this game mean that it's not always the case here, which just leads to frustration, especially if you've just dropped big money on a weapon that turns out to be rubbish.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Like what you see in the Games Freezer?
Why not tell us what you think with a few well-chosen comments? :)

๐ŸŽฎ Featured Posts ๐ŸŽฎ