by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
If you have played Halcyon 6 you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Massive Damages’ upcoming Star Renegades in terms of combat and visual style. But where Halcyon 6 (mostly) had you roam amongst the stars, Star Renegades puts your feet on solid ground, adding some gameplay twists into the mix for good measure.
You lead a small group of rebel heroes to take on an overwhelmingly powerful evil empire. During missions, your team will be dropped onto various planets which you will then explore and (hopefully) rid of the empire’s presence. The planet maps are hand drawn — as is all of the game’s pixel art — but quests and points of interest will be randomly generated each time before you land.
The demo map was fairly small and we were able to loop through the boss fight at the end of it a few times (though we got our ass kicked). Each time we battled we learned how to fight the mech-suited empire lackey a bit better. CEO Ken Seto told us that learning an enemy’s routines might not be so easy in the final build though — when you die, enemies grow tougher.
Ok, so here is how it works; Star Renegades is a Rogue-lite. When your team fails a mission they are transported back to base where they can be revived — any team member that isn’t captured by the enemy that is. Your team’s skills and stats will have been reset too, but you do keep their experience and get to use that to reassign skills and abilities. Any team members that have been captured run the risk of being corrupted and joining the empire. Meanwhile, the enemy that defeated you climbs up in the empire’s hierarchy and becomes more powerful. He’ll remember you too. Next time you will fight he will remind you in some way or another that he took you down before, and no doubt will boast he will do it again.
Combat is largely what you would expect from a JRPG. The two sides face off on a battlefield. An initiative timeline determines which character moves next and you give orders to yours as the turns go by. The artwork in Star Renegades is what makes things interesting though. There’s a good amount of variation in attacks and defenses, and an incredible amount of animation. A single enemy consists of around 500 frames of hand drawn pixel art which means that there is always something new to see.
REBELS WITH A CAUSE
The devs are planning on adding little flavour elements throughout the game to keep things fresh. For instance, some of the bosses are biome-bound which means you may not get to see them at all in a specific playthrough. And while most enemies will stand and fight until one side is defeated, some may turn and flee a battle and come back to you later. There will be a camping element where your team can cook food based on recipes and ingredients found on their adventures using a collectible card system. Perhaps the most intriguing element will be developing relationships between your characters, making them more powerful and efficient in the battlefield. Imagine losing one half of such a relationship — you’ll be scrambling to get that person back, if you can.
I loved Halcyon 6, both for its interesting take on RPGs and its beautiful and ever-exciting aesthetics. Star Renegades is a different beast entirely, but it has those exact same things down pat. There is still a lot to work on before the game’s mid 2020 release, but it’s shaping up to be something special.