I wouldn’t surprise anyone by saying that it was an art style that drew my attention to the Othercide.
Of course, Othercide also has quite an unusual lore, tricky tactical battles, and ‘meta-level’ gameplay that revolves around sacrifice and replay to get stronger. But it’s the image of unyielding Daughters standing against hordes of nightmarish creatures over the monochrome landscape of unnatural world – that’s what makes this game stand out.
So if you aren’t fans of a gray-scale pallet, horror themes and story rooted deep in the human psyche, you can pass this game outright. But those who appreciate style and atmosphere should definitely try it. Provided you aren’t afraid of some turn-based tactic challenges.
Silent Hill Tactics
Actually, battles here remind me most of XCOM: Chimera Squad. Except there is less random, which simultaneously good and bad.
The good part is that probability to dodge the attack, either for an enemy or for you, is rather low. So usually you won’t have several critical misses in a row – damage of your attacks is determined by your own tactical skill. Flanking and backstabbing enemies that are ‘locked’ in one direction by your other attacks is one of the most used tricks here.
Another trick is manipulating turns in the units’ timeline. Again, like Chimera Squad. Except Othercide has more ‘tools’ – abilities to delay enemy turn or speed up an ally. And if you leave more than 50 Action Points unused, your Daughter also will act sooner. Or you can intentionally use all AP and enable ‘Interruption’ ability. It will completely negate first enemy attack in range and even make some damage until Daughter moves again.
Some attacks can push enemies into obstacles or other enemies. Or destroy their armor. ‘Reaction stances’ enable additional attacks as a response to enemy or ally actions. Some of them can trigger combos. There are also few attacks that include movement – they are especially useful if the target is too far or your Daughter was immobilized.
Enemies have similar abilities and the further you progress, the nastier they become. Sometimes you wouldn’t even be able to prepare counterattack before recently spawned foe will attack. Luckily, opponents don’t have strategic AI. So, if you adapt to their behavior you can significantly raise your chances of winning the mission. Read game’s Codex, as it describes what enemies prefer to do and whom to attack first. The same is doubly true for bosses.
So, We Begin Again
However, you can’t always win. In fact, there is no way for you to heal and ‘reaction stances’ use percent of Daughter’s HP. Thus sooner or later your troops will run out of health. You can last a little longer by sacrificing one Daughter to restore the health of another (and in addition add recipient some buffs) but in the end, you will face ‘Game over’ message.
Except it’s not a game over. After restarting ‘campaign’, you’ll get an opportunity to resurrect a few fallen daughters, who got new skills and traits during the previous run. Additionally, you’ll get more ‘memories’ for your Daughters to equip and ‘remembrances’ that grant bonuses for all Daughters. Increased damage, additional delay for the target’s next action, immobilizing the target for some ‘initiative points’ – some of the boons are quite useful to control enemies and dispatch them quickly.
In other words, each subsequent run will make you stronger. And with better knowledge of the enemies, you’ll progress further and get even better ‘memories’ and ‘remembrances’. It all reminds me of Into the Breach. Except Othercide has a lot more stuff to unlock and keep between ‘timelines’.
Later you can even skip entire ‘Eras’. Thus you wouldn’t waste time on the common enemies and bosses you’ve already defeated. You’ll only grind if you need more ‘memories’ with better effects to equip before the most important battles.
Grind is one of the two main problems in Othercide. Remember how I said that there is less random than in Chimera Squad and Into the Breach and it has downsides? Here is the one. At some point, battles become too repetitive. There is a quite limited number of maps and even enemies spawn there only in a handful of patterns. You can literally memorize one fight and repeat it on the same map turn-by-turn.
The only thing that would be randomized – memory drops. And thus you’ll have to slog through already won challenges just to get bonuses and special effects needed for a boss fight.
Another problem is the interface. Overall it’s not bad but there are some oversights. There is no way to undo a movement, like in Into the Breach. You can’t rotate the map, which makes maps with pillars very inconvenient. You can’t even look up what ‘memory’ bonuses your Daughters equipped – only their class, their dodge and armor stats, and their abilities.
In fact, when you ‘attach’ memory that delays the target monster’s turn to ability, you can’t see that effect. While with abilities that delay target by default the ‘push along the timeline’ is shown. And this is just one of many similar inconsistencies.
To be fair, for an indie game Othercide is rather polished. There are no game-breaking bugs, style, and atmosphere hold almost perfectly, minimalistic but powerful cut-scenes all properly voiced – those things are top-notch. There is an even neat idea that ‘memories’ aren’t just bonuses but actual memories of the protagonist. And in ‘Codex’ you’ll gradually unlock the whole story of the Chosen One and her struggle. But then we come to the interface and gameplay balance…
Inconsistency in some descriptions and indicators stands in the way of enjoying battles with quite a fresh take on timeline-turn-based tactics. And battles themselves eventually become repetitive. Even when a kill-em-all scenario is replaced with escort or survival mission (which happens not very often) there are simply too few maps and monster spawns are the same.
Even Daughters aren’t that different. Granted, there are a few classes, customized by picking different abilities and enhancing those abilities with different ‘memories’. But then you realize that half of the abilities just not useful. And even fewer memory bonuses are actually make difference in a fight.
And eventually, you come to a realization – this is just an indie game. Even with great visuals and music that totally justify buying album and soundtrack separately. But the main gameplay can’t entertain you more than one playthrough. And thus the price of the main game is too high for its class.