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Posted by GG Goblin On August - 4 - 2020

Hello from the Othercide.

XCOM has proved so popular that simply suggesting an upcoming game may have similarities is enough to make genre fans’ ears prick up. Every XCOM fan is looking for their next fix, and this has given rise to a steady release of new games that offer those similarities. While some of these games take large chunks of the XCOM formula and present them to the players, others are more vague in the mechanics that they mimic. Othercide, from Lightbulb Crew, is the latest game to suggest that it may be of interest to XCOM fans and, while the similarities may be only minimal, the game has enough interesting ideas to stand quite happily on its own.


Othercide is a tactical turn-based game with roguelike elements. The first thing that players will notice however is the striking visual style. The game is presented in varying shades of grey, with just the occasional pop of red to treat the players eyes. The red is not just used for the blood in Othercide, although that plays a big part in a game which has a Gothic horror theme. While the environments are often understated and revolving around decaying buildings and the like, the enemies that the player faces are very nicely done and can easily be seen as the stuff of nightmares. This is amplified even more when the player comes up against the inevitable bosses, who really are quite horrific and worthy of their titles. Then there are the daughters themselves, who lack variety but still manage to look very cool.

Hang on, daughters? What is going on here? Well, there is a story, although fully understanding it may take some work. The game revolves around a reality-destroying event known as The Suffering. Trying to prevent this is The Mother, a god-like being who is coming to the end of her power. To fight the evil creatures that are bringing the Suffering, Mother can create Daughters, and these are what the player will be controlling. There is ample lore uncovered as the player progresses through the game, building this world and explaining more about what is going on, and it does make for an interesting world, if a little difficult to follow. Still, any excuse to control stylish warriors in turn-based battles is all I need.


So, the Suffering is coming, and it is coming in a set number of days. To this end, the player will be able to send each of their daughters out on a mission once per day. As the player starts with only three daughters and early missions can be taken by teams of up to three, this will mean one mission per day, although as their roster increases, it should be possible to take on a couple if the player chooses. This becomes important as the daughters will need to increase in level and ability in order to face the bosses, the first of which will arrive on day seven, or earlier if the player chooses. There are only a few different types of mission, and these will mostly revolve around either defeating everything on the map, or reaching a set point.

Keeping daughters alive is the key to success as there is a type of permadeath in Othercide. While the player can spend resources on creating new daughters, they will then have to spend time levelling them up again, and daughters can earn traits as they progress, making them all the more effective. Of course, keeping them alive is not easy, especially since there is no good way to heal the daughters between missions, and so all damage taken will remain through the rest of their existence. Daughters can be healed, but doing so will require the sacrifice of a daughter of equal or higher level, so it is by no means a good way of keeping them alive. That being said, healing in this way will give the recipient a nice bonus depending on the class of the sacrificed daughter. There are also resurrection tokens that can rarely be awarded, usually from guiding a weak creature to an escape point in a rescue mission. These can bring back former daughters, complete with their levels, which offers further opportunities for building a powerful team. The other downside of creating new daughters is that the resources used are the same resources that need to be spent to add perks to the daughters’ abilities, and as these can make abilities much more powerful, it is best to save the resources were possible.

Failure is inevitable, be it through all of the daughters dying in battle, or through the player choosing to start again. However, the game rewards the player with Remembrances, which are little bonuses that can be activated on subsequent playthroughs, in order to make things a touch easier. This could be as simple as providing a resurrection token at the very beginning, allowing the player to instantly bring back one of their more powerful daughters, or even skipping through early parts of the game if the player wants to ignore the easier levels. Othercide is not an easy game by any means, but this system means that perseverance is rewarded and that things will get easier.


When it comes to the actual combat, there is a lot of familiarity here, and a lot that is new. The turn-based combat is played out on small battlefields, and there is no cover system to think about. There are three classes to begin with, from the support of the ranged attacking Soulslinger, to the damage-dealing Blademaster. Finally, the player can choose a tank-like Shieldbearer. Each class comes with different abilities, and can unlock more as they progress, and each ability has an action point cost. Players move and perform actions according to their cost.

What makes it all more interesting is the time line that appears at the bottom of the screen. This shows exactly when each combatant, both daughters and enemies, will take their turn, along with exactly when any delayed actions will take place. Using this time line, the player is able to interrupt actions of the enemies, and even push them back in the time line, potentially allowing another daughter to act before them. Also, daughters have access to 100 action points, but using more than fifty of them will put them in Burst mode which means their next turn will be at the end of the timeline. Using less than fifty action points means they will be able to take their next turn far quicker, and so players will have to judge carefully when to take those extra actions, or be left vulnerable. It’s a good system that becomes even more interesting as the player unlocks new abilities that can further manipulate this time line, something which becomes more and more essential as the game progresses.

The frustration of failure is tempered by the new buffs that the player can take into their next attempt. However, the end of the game does come with a rather nasty difficulty spike that doesn’t really feel fair. Otherwise, the game is solidly built. There are some instances where mouse clicks don’t seem to register, but as there is no sense of urgency in the game, these are nothing more than a slight irritation.


Othercide takes some of the XCOM formula and mixes it up with some great new ideas to create a tactical RPG that is both very difficult and very rewarding. The battles are enjoyable, the world is interesting and the visuals ooze style. That difficulty may be enough to put some players off, but accepting that failure is part of the process will allow the player to keep coming back and progressing further. Othercide is a great new addition to the genre and should be checked out by all genre fans.




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