Skara - The Blade Remains Preview & Gameplay Video

By Published June 24, 2014 at 3:00 am
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Kickstarter projects have flooded the market over the past few years. Multi-million dollar success of titles like Star Citizen have only furthered the torrential downpour of indie titles hoping to realize their game-making dreams. Saturation to such an extent, of course, also brings with it a great burden on consumers when seeking out new titles. Not everyone can deliver, as we've learned, and some projects never even make it to market.

Skara - The Blade Remains stands as one of the newest additions to Kickstarter, but its arrival isn't without towing force from Unreal Engine 4. What was once a multi-million dollar engine is now available at $20/mo. (with royalties) for developers, and now that the engine has been out for a few months, we're starting to see impending indie games utilizing it.

You'll find our Skara - The Blade Remains preview and unedited gameplay footage below, along with further analysis of mechanics.

Skara - The Blade Remains Gameplay Video & Preview

Skara is an action arena combat game and can be thought of as a slower-paced, more simplistic version of Fury (RIP) or Forge. Players are dumped into an arena of (as of now) 7 other players or AI—either Team Deathmatch or Free For All—and then told to brutally murder one another. So then, it's a Black Friday simulator.

The game has great promises, even for something in such an early state. The developers hope to accumulate $35,000 through Kickstarter (hovering at $25,000 now), noting:

"Skara is about skill, timing, accuracy and practice. As in a Versus, knowing your combos and the best moment to use them is crucial to survival in our arenas. Dodge, counter-attack and execute your enemies with spectacular fatalities."

It's exactly what I've wanted in a game since Fury's untimely death, though I've yet to see developers truly deliver on such promises. The real lure here is the elimination of grindy leveling, often required to achieve such combat in MMOs, and a pure focus on skill.

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It's difficult to be critical of Skara given its status as an unfinished preview, likely pre-alpha, but there are some glaring concerns that need to be addressed. Combat feels agonizingly sluggish, movement is slow, and attack patterns are ill-timed. We've presently only got a few attacks: Primary (left-click), power attack (right click / hold click), and ranged ('r'), so the game has a lot of room for growth. A few 'combo attacks' are possible, more similar to old arcade games than anything -- right-click, left-click, right-click, space, as an example. I found these either were not yet implemented, didn't work, or killed enemies before fully executed. Movement is limited to walking and sprinting, with dodges bursted between. All these items taken into account, and it just doesn't feel right. Something doesn't fit and the flow is clumsy. Attacks feel awkward and oft unpredictable. Swings sometimes lag several seconds behind user input (perhaps an artifact of such an early build - I can excuse this) and directing attacks is clunky and difficult.

Further, once you've landed a blow on a target, they're simply never going to be able to retaliate ever again; it's a full lock-down. This is because hit characters spend a moment reeling from the attack before they're able to swing again, which is cool, but there's a problem: The cool-down for the recovery is longer than the cool-down for a swing. Do the math here -- the first person to land a swing in combat will be able to continually beat-down their opponent until victory.

But again, the game is in such an early state that all of these items can be resolved if the developers are willing to listen to feedback. Skara is a great concept at its core and there isn't much competition in the space, they just need some serious mechanics and design reworking. The graphics are brilliant for an indie title of this scope, with large thanks to UE4's ease of use and built-in graphics systems. They're not the best you've ever seen, but damn good for a small project. Definitely some of the best lighting I've seen in an indie title.

Skara Conclusion 

skara-preview3

It seems to me that the preview build was released a bit too early. It is my opinion that the developers should have waited until a more solid mechanical foundation was in place prior to putting out an advance look and opening a Kickstarter campaign. The onus is on developers to prove their worth for a Kickstarter campaign, and taking time to land an excellent first impression is always worthwhile.

Great concept, but the mechanics of such an endeavor require very fine tuning -- this is especially proven with melee-heavy games like Chivalry. Latency and input detection are everything in this type of game.

If you'd like to support the game and find it interesting, the Kickstarter is located here.

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.

Last modified on June 24, 2014 at 3:00 am
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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