What would you get if you mixed the gameplay of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Dark Souls with some good ol’ Lovecraftian horror? Chances are you would see something similar to Pugware‘s Workshop’s most recent 2D Metroidvainia Action-RPG title, Usurper. You begin in an alternate version of 1898 London that is currently in crisis as a object, known as the Citidel, has fallen into the middle of town and is releasing a terrible Fog that causes people to go mad as well as many Eldritch creatures that attack anyone in sight. Your job is to try to figure out more about the Citidel and try to find a way to get rid of it while keeping yourself alive. From there you travel to a multitude of areas from a Library to an Alien Landscape to a spaceship. With the pixel-like graphics, it makes all of the areas look unique and eerie. Sometimes it is hard to tell exactly what is standing in your way of the treasure chest just beyond it and what it is capable of. It adds to the atmosphere of the world and sets just the right tone.
The gameplay resolves around how well you can manage your Focus, which is very important as the amount of Focus you have will dictate what you can do to fight back. Once that bar runs out, the only bar they can take from is your much smaller health bar. You are given several options for defense in fights as you can move out of the way of the attack, dodge through the attack, or shield the attack. The difference between them all is how much Focus is used. Stepping out of the way uses no Focus, but many enemies have attacks that cover a wide range that you wouldn’t be able to escape. Dodging is automatic and will let you just walk through some attacks at the cost of your Focus meter, but if you manually dodge an attack a portion of that meter is resorted. Blocking uses more Focus but makes you completely invulnerable and will allow you to reflect projectiles back at the enemy. On offence, there are a multitude of weapons that you can use to defeat your attackers ranging from sword and axes to bows and guns to magic and the ability to summon creatures. The gameplay is well polished for any build that you follow and is inviting for new players who aren’t used to this style, while also offering a high skill ceiling for players who are looking for a challenge. The game is still only in an alpha state, but there is a ton of content and plenty of incentive for replayablitiy to either try a new style or to go through and find any secrets that you might have bypassed on a previous run.
With all of this, Usurper also has a very unique and enthralling story going along side the gameplay. You start out as a pile of flesh and eyes named Waltham that had just been defeated and brought to his current state in a battle against the mysterious figure known as the Navigator. From there, he resides inside the corpse of one of the Queen’s guards, Saragat. Their relationship starts of rocky as the Queen’s knights are sworn to fight the evils created by the Citidel and Waltham is the leader of a group called the Veimar. They came down with the Citidel. As the game progresses, Saragat finds that both Waltham and and the Queen’s goals are the same. To get remove the Citadel from the town London, but each wants to do so to achieve another goal. With the story starting out as such, it makes me very excited for the finished product and how much more content and story will be added.
Played it? We’d love to know what you thought about it.