Gladiators are back in early roguelite we who die

It’s been a month since the Early Access release, and its development, which was largely handled by one person, is still improving. But if you name the most inspiring love games of 2022, it has to be We are about to dieby Jordi Laquiere.

What Laquière calls a “criminally unused” place and subject – ancient Rome! Gladiator fight! – finds a perfect foothold in the very popular genre, roguelike or roguelite, that has attracted really independent developers. What really makes it here is the Belgian developer’s heavy focus on gameplay systems, with the game’s scenery and other aesthetics serving those systems, rather than the other way around. This required Lakiere, who was primarily trained as an artist and animator, to expand and grow himself as a game developer over the course of the seven years he We are about to die It was in the making.

“Roguelix is ​​notoriously difficult,” Laquiere said in an email interview. I think ‘ruthless gladiator game’ sounds like a good hook, too. The title sums up the sentiment perfectly — Morituri We are about to death. When you are sent into the pits, you can do your best, but basically you are already dead.”

Launching early on November 14, Steam user reviews are overwhelmingly positive for good reason. Rather than a linear tale of one hero bobbing across lush landscapes, We are about to die He plays for stakes from the first match.

Actual gladiators play with perpetual death, of course, and that’s what you’re up against We are about to die, is very. Players must think tactically, break down their opponents’ positions, keep moving and maintain their defense. You lose a match, and you lose your character, no matter how long your run may take. This is a roguelite, after all.

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“There’s also something absolutely magical about perpetual death,” said Laquiere. “It changes the way you play. Suddenly, there are real stakes. You get emotionally invested in this character, this story that you’ve only experienced before, and you can lose it forever.”

Disclosure: love Gladiator combat as a video game genre. Yes, LucasArts has received worldwide acclaim Gladius for Xbox back in the day; I had too Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance And the Circus Maximus (The gladiators And the race?! I encourage myself). Lakiere cut his game development teeth at the tender age of 14 with mods for Mount & Blade, a series well known for its fidelity to its combat action. He considers it an inspiration, in addition to the gladiator games I have enjoyed, as well as others ranging from Spartan: Total Warrior to me Spelunky and its complement.

fighters in We are about to die They are “ambitious”. And their fight to the death. Lose and start over
Photo: Jordi Laquiere

Most importantly, however, Laquiere did not set out to replicate the games he had already enjoyed. His moderate resume prompted him to attend university to pursue development, primarily through the art and animation course. He had been working for six years as an independent artist who paid his bills, but became restless creatively due to not developing his own game.

“I asked myself, ‘What’s the simplest shell about an interesting combat system that minimizes its scope so I can do it solo?'” He said. “I remember lying on the couch talking brainstorming and actually having one of those cliched ‘eureka’ moments,” he said. “The core is ring combat, arenas are limited in scope, round combat. Back then, roguelikes and roguelites were very hot, and I had a realization — Rogolite gladiator! “

Amplifying this inspiration is the fact that the wrestler genre has been mostly non-stop since mid-2013 Rice Ibn Rom. “It’s a place universally loved among gamers (I think, at least),” said Laquiere, “and criminally underutilized, like many fans of WWAATD have mentioned.”

We are about to die It has some rough edges, to be sure. Animations and reactions are noticeably repetitive and not always smooth. It is also a difficult game. Players really need to focus on adding momentum to their strikes, and those with Mount & Blade experience will be quicker to catch the flow than others who might expect button hacks and slashes. said all that, We are about to die It is admittedly in development, with An ambitious content roadmap.

It also had a solid enough start to get Lakiere serious about hiring a development studio for the game. He hasn’t done the entire seven-year project yet – some contractors have helped with components of the game – however WWAATDLaquiere said the first month exceeded his expectations “by 20-fold”. “And the decline in sales is much less than expected – a really good tail so far.”

“So it makes sense to take the initiative and finally move away from individual development,” Laquiere added. “The immediate goals, along with the behind-the-scenes company stuff, are debugging, adding content and some peripheral features. […] More randomness, more items, levels, and backgrounds [for the cast of Aspirants, as the gladiators are called]. Controller support is a big goal, as is game optimization for the Steam Deck. Laquiere hopes both can be done in early 2023.

But we who are about to die, At least, the basics seem to be in place. There is a rocky scissor side to matchmaking: shield and spear fighters are great all-rounders, while two-handed ax fighters are slower but break down defenses more quickly. “They are a bit like glass cannons,” said Laquiere, “and smart players can make sure they have a spear equipped to get in.” [them]. “

We are about to die It saw its first major update on December 7th and is currently discounted by 20% through January 5th. It is available from Steam for Windows PC.

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