Fans of Diablo-esque dungeon crawlers should keep their eye on Killsquad. Dubbed a “hardcore” action RPG by developer Novarama, the game is set in the distant future where mega corporations control the galaxy. These entities maintain control by dispatching teams of bounty hunters, called Killsquads, to raid planets for resources. Killsquad pushes the action side of the genre to create an exciting and thus far enjoyable romp.
Players take control of the bounty hunters either alone or in a group of up to four teammates. The demo featured four characters each with specialized classes: Rico, a healer, Neil, a hammer-wielding berserker, the swordswoman Cass , and the marksman outlaw Clint. Novarama promises more characters will come post-launch. Characters evolve by finding new weapons and gear along with additional abilities from an unlockable skill tree. I decided to go with Cass, and after customizing her outfit and color scheme to my liking, dropped into a mission with another human player. Our first objective: reach a checkpoint and defend it from enemy onslaught.
Cass grows on me almost immediately. Her slick sword attacks and fast pace sing to the action fan in me. Cass also flaunts cool abilities like temporary invisibility and a shuriken that teleports her to the target it strikes. My partner chose Rico, dropping health packs to keep me in shape while holding foes at bay with a long range laser cannon. Waves of enemies attempt to stop our trek to the goal, but we mow them down in flashy, effects-heavy clashes.The bizarre baddies we took down included leaping, multi-legged rock monsters, swarms of bat-like creatures, and one foe that resembled Destiny’s Harpies. Some enemies even set traps like a pair of crisscrossing lasers.
Though levels and assets are hand-crafted, they’re procedurally laid out with each playthrough. The same applies to enemy spawns. That means repeating missions won’t play out the same way in order to keep the action unpredictable. Environments themselves boast impressive detail and have a triple-A quality to them despite coming from an indie developer.
After successfully defending our first objective, we are tasked with going up against the level’s boss. The towering adversary took our combined might as we battled it along with a small army of minions. Though it was a tough fight, the combination of hit-and-run tactics on my end with distant support from my partner eventually toppled the beast. I shared a victory high-five with my companion as the demo faded to black.
My time with Killsquad was short but I’m pleasantly surprised by what I played. As I said before it has a big-budget look and feel that would surprise players to learn its made by an indie team. It taps into the cooperative fun of dungeon crawlers and I especially loved the increased emphasis on action. Killsquad doesn’t have a concrete release window but it’s slated to arrive sometime this summer. Right now Novarama is targeting PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. When I remarked about the game being a perfect fit for Switch a la Diablo III, the developer agreed but said they couldn’t promise anything on that front just yet. Fingers crossed that Killsquad eventually migrates to Nintendo’s hybrid console too.
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