Monday, 13 January 2014

Damned (Alpha): Splitting Up is a Valid Strategy

Damned is a semi-coop indie game available on steam where in up to four people form what I call the "scooby gang", a group who find themselves stuck in haunted and dark locations like asylums or old mansions and are simply tasked with getting out. Armed only with flashlights they need to locate items scattered throughout the level to achieve this goal. Opposing them is the one player being the bad guy, currently either a spectral thing or a large, skinless humanoid. The dude playing the monster only has one goal, to kill everyone else.

Yeah, you're dead.

Being in Alpha, help or information about controls is quite limited in-game. You won't realize that as a survivor you need to hold down the left mouse button to drag doors open and closed, or that the furniture sitting around is all interactive. Desk drawers, cabinets and stoves are all openable and valid places for the game to hide things you need. As the monster you exist in two states - one in the bright grey world of spirits where you can sprint around really fast and move through all doors but cannot see the scooby gang or you can manifest in the "real" dark world and be a slow, lumbering, terrifying, one hit killer who cannot open doors. There's a hidden cool down that prevents you from spamming the transformation states to give the humans a chance.

I must admit the concept itself is really cool, and when the music strikes up letting everyone know the monster is manifested really gets the heart racing. The biggest downside to it that it doesn't handle player elimination well. By that I mean that if you die first but the rest of your team is good at eluding the bad dude you could be idling for many, many minutes and often results in me dropping from the game out of boredom. If they add a way to drag your allies corpses to some sort of respawner or otherwise give them something to do while dead and add a how to play section in game it would go a long way. As it currently stands (remember, it's still in alpha) I can only give it one skull out of five. Worth keeping an eye on but not getting, just yet.

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