For anyone looking to sink their teeth into a meaty new turn-based combat experience, indie company, Lightbulb Crew, might have just the thing get your mouth watering. Read on for the SP1st Othercide review to see if this is a tactical horror game worth enduring.
Othercide is made by them and published by Focus Home Interactive and LBC Games. It blends horror and noir (horroir? I’m coining that term) to deliver a truly unique take on turn-based combat.
Tearing the Veil
At first, Othercide plops you into the game without any knowledge whatsoever, as you fight off several enemies as the Red Mother. As we learn the basics of combat, we also learn about a plague of some kind and The Child, who is trying to tear the veil that separates our reality from the unreality, where hellish abominations are just dying to meet us. When the Red Mother eventually falls, the game starts in earnest, as you guide her Daughters in their fight to end The Suffering.
If all of that sounds a bit theatrical and esoteric, then you’re right. Othercide wears its mysteries on its sleeve, and hides away most of its lore in submenus, like the codex. You almost need a dictionary to decipher the standardt turn-based combat fare here; The Inner Void is where you manage your Daughters, which are your units. If you need more units you obviously head to the Birthing Pool to ‘germinate’ them. Remembrances are Buffs you can collect in the Synapses, which are the levels and so on and so forth.
Try, Try Again
Othercide is more than a turn-based RPG with weird names for things, though. For one, the game is unforgivingly tough, but this is by design. You aren’t supposed to beat the game your first go around. Every time you get a game over, you will start a new Recollection (basically a run of the game) with new daughters and the old ones in the cemetery.
From here, you start hacking away at the enemies again. You get to keep Remembrances from earlier runs to boost your Daughters, and you can also revive the fallen ones with the correct items in your inventory. The only way to heal your Daughters after battle is by sacrificing a Daughter of the same level or higher. Yeah, there’s no hand holding in this game.
Turn -Based Strategy Meets Lovecraft
The presentation is super stylized and slick in black, white and grey with deep red accents. If you’ve seen or read Frank Miller’s Sin City, then you have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting here.
This is not always to the game’s benefit, though. It can be really hard to distinguish between your units, and I more than once thought I was controlling one unit, when I was controlling another, sending my ranged unit in for an unwanted hug from a scythe-carrying enemy.
Every day in the game will have a certain number of synapses to close, and after a certain amount of days you face the bosses, which are truly horrifying, especially because you are afraid of having to start all over again, when you inevitably get destroyed the first time around. Every boss has some pretty clever mechanics that you need to figure out, making it that much sweeter, when you outplay them, as you slowly level up your Daughters.
For any fan of turn-based combat, Othercide definitely scratches the itch as, say, XCOM. You start out with three types of units; The Blademaster, who does high damage but is somewhat fragile, the Shieldbearer, who can take a couple of hits and the Soulslinger, a ranged unit, focusing on interrupting enemy attacks and chipping away at health from a distance.
Instead of each unit having allocated a certain amount of moves each round, Othercide instead uses a timeline feature. A unit will slide along the timeline until it reaches zero, and its turn. Certain moves can push an enemy further back on the timeline, and the gameplay relies on knowing when to interrupt an upcoming enemy attack, waste a round to charge an extra powerful one yourself, or simply go in for the quick hit.
I Can’t See!
Othercide has a couple of flies in the ointment that keeps it from being an even better game, than it is. The UI for instance isn’t exactly intuitive, and the text is so dang small you need a telescope to read it. You can chalk that up to me needing glasses, of course if you wanna be a jerk about it, but it becomes blindingly clear what a little color can do for getting a quick overview of the battlefield. It’s not always super clear what a certain move does, either, but with trial and error (which there will be plenty of, anyway) all becomes clear in the end.
If you like your games with a side dish of masochism, and if you are itching to play some turn-based combat, Othercide might just be what you are looking for. It’s in no way perfect, but it stands out in today’s market.
- Difficult and unique take on the Turn Based RPG genre
- Cool, stylish artwork
- A UI that isn’t exactly user-friendly
- Slightly repetitive
- Story a bit too disconnected from gameplay
Othercide review code provided by the publisher. Played on PS4. You can read SP1st and MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.