by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
A small studio, with a unique idea
Resistance Games is a small, recently formed Finnish studio made up of industry veterans looking to offer fresh, unexpected gameplay experiences in the strategy genre. My Gamescom meeting with Creative Director Jussi Autio was proof of how serious the studio takes their mission. We had a look at some of the games that they have been pitching and each game concept intrigued us with new takes on existing conventions. While Jussi could not reveal the game that they are currently working on (a signed game which will be announced soon by its publisher), we did have a chance to zoom in on Axiom, a turn-based real-time racing strategy game.
Yup. You read that right.
say what now?
Axiom is set in a dystopian 2030. Earth has been ravaged by the effects of climate change, unemployment is at an all-time high due to far reaching automation and populistic regimes rule most of the world. The situation is dire, and violence all but inevitable. The extremist governments know the people are not ready for violent solutions yet, and device a plan to make them more tolerant to future violence. A new combat motorsport is established, and you run one of its racing teams.
Alright, so Axiom doesn’t take itself too seriously and the backstory is a little generic. In truth, if it weren’t a turn-based real-time game, you’d easily mistake it for an arcade racer just based on its aesthetics, and which arcade racer has ever taken itself seriously? Exactly. There’s nothing generic about Axiom’s gameplay though. The pre-alpha build we got to play was really just a single race, but one that was every bit as weirdly exciting as the game sounds on paper.
A race can have up to 12 competitors on a single track. Unlike most racing games, you have no direct control over your car. Instead, you get to give a variety of orders such as break, go faster and change lane every five seconds or so (the turns). As the turns play out in real time without pauses, these orders alone are enough to keep a man busy. You need to do more than steering to win the race though. The combat aspect of the game currently involves trying to push others off the track, firing shots and rockets at them, or dropping landmines.
Things can get crazy pretty fast, and the lack of immediate control turned out to be gut wrenching at times. In one race, we found ourselves in the rear of the action. We lit up when we saw a slowdown ahead on the game’s minimap – something had happened to a lot of the other drivers – we could shoot right past them! What we didn’t realize then was that this would be a bad thing for us too. Turning a corner, the crash site involved something like 6 cars and they were all bunched up right in our lane. With no direct control, I grabbed my head yelling “noooooo!” as our driver drove straight into the pileup. Who knew turn-based real-time racing could be such a thrill!?
Obviously one race level doesn’t make a game, but Resistance Games has plenty of ideas to flesh it out. As mentioned, you are the team’s manager. You’ll be in charge of car development (think engines, cooling, transmission etc), hiring and firing of drivers, managing driver happiness, stress levels and injuries. There’s a fair bit of depth planned for all of these features. Injured drivers run the risk of getting disoriented which will reduce their ability to drive or even take orders. This then increases the risk of crashes and even death. For the car development, the team is looking to add all kinds of facilities (think Motorsport Manager), and related staff.
The list of planned features goes on and on, and all of them sound like something we’d want to see in a game. Obviously Axiom is very, very early in development and everything is still up in the air until it finds a publisher and the final set of features decided. Yet one thing is very clear – there is no shortage of ideas at Resistance Games. We’ll be watching Axiom, and its developers, very closely in the coming years.