Skara Alpha Review



I have to say, reading and listening to the developers of Skara, I was initially very confused. “Sixteen player Versus Fighter,” I thought, “What are they on about?”. Curious none-the-less, I took a stab at it. Since picking it up I can say that I see the developers ideas and intentions, but a better description is certainly required before deciding if this current early-alpha game is the right sort of game you might enjoy either now or in the future.

In its current build, Skara has a simple deathmatch setup, either Free for all or Teams, where you play one of two characters against a number of AI of your choosing. To swing your sword you can slash vertically, horizontally left or horizontally right. Certain attacks link together with others to form combos and each of the characters seems to have a unique set of them, though while looking fun the actual effectiveness of any swing over the others is uncertain. Each has has a different rating of power and stamina but you couldn’t tell the difference just by playing. If you run you can do a charge attack, otherwise you can pull up a shield to block until your stamina runs out, or more effectively block and press attack at the right time to do a counter that immediately kills your opponent. If you manage to just bash your opponent to submission, they enter a Mortal Kombat style stagger that lets you perform a finishing move, which is neat but I’m not sure what utility it might actually have.

2014-06-27_00004

The use of different directional attacks opens up options for mixing up how you approach an enemy, but since blocking defends against them all equally they don’t feel distinct or useful in any application. The most effective tactic I had while playing was to block and counter, since it produced a far better reward comparatively for a relatively easy parry action. I’m a bit worried with this setup; I can easily see players turtling against each other, neither willing to make a blow that can easily lead to their instant demise. A shield break seems essential to breaking this stalemate; perhaps that’s the function of the dash? It’s hard to say fighting with the AI, who seem to not block at all, and react to your approach so quickly your best choice is to just go right back to countering their attacks.

Currently only the developers know exactly where they’re taking the combat, however there are a few things that I personally would like to see to add depth to the combat. Adding a directional parrying system to replace the current block timing parry would add a little more skill and thought to countering. Even a decent guard break move could turn the game into more of a rock paper scissors encounter.

2014-06-27_00005

While fun, I wouldn’t necessarily call this sort of system a ‘Versus Fighter’, a term reserved to describe the core fighting genre, which the developers call up to bring attention to the combo system. Rather, I’m reminded more of the likes of the 3d Zeldas or Dark Souls, but as of yet Skara is unrefined by comparison. Zelda keeps the formula simple; direction matters for getting around the few opponents who block, and blocking is generally how you counter all enemies by waiting for their recovery. Skara aims for a bit more depth; Dark Souls shares more in common in Skara’s ambition, with bouts of defending, dodging and parrying until one side gets gets a poke in. Comparatively to either Dark Souls or fighting games, it does still require refinement in how the characters move and interact, to either acquire the smoothness of combat possessed by Dark Souls, or the footsies and spacing game notorious to the versus fighters that Skara wants to compare itself to. It has a far greater distance to go for the latter

There is room for this game to be great; even in this early build, it is a beautifully rendered game. Though the list of assets is short between two characters and two arenas, the use of the Unreal 4 engine really brings a beautiful shine to everything. Each faction will have its own campaign across the broken world of Skara, which should provide plenty of room to throw in interesting locales. As long as the developers keep up to this level of quality Skara should turn up to be a decent bit of eye candy.

As with all alphas Skara’s current iteration is that of the curious prototype. Its next phase promises character customization and more abilities, and in the future promises six more maps, 5 total playable races, a meta-map for factions to battle over the world of Skara, and Siege and MVP style game modes. I expect that as soon as the combat feels more dynamic the game will pick up in interest, and be worth an investigation in what seems to be a growing genre of melee-action oriented titles.

This entry was posted in Action/RPG, Featured Posts, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.