PREVIEW: Buck


BUCK is an upcoming metroidbrawler developed and published by Wave Interactive. The game is still being developed, so this is just a preview.

Developer: Wave Interactive

Publisher: Wave Interactive

Genre: 2D Metroidbrawler

Release date: Q2 2017

Type: Single-player

STORY
The game is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland lived by anthropomorphic animals. You play as Buck, a motorcycle garage mechanic who decides to leave everything he knows behind in order to find the truth behind a girl’s disappearance all while struggling to adjust himself to a world he doesn’t fully understand.
The game’s story is told both via narration (in a style reminiscent of Bastion) and through dialogue between the various animals that you will find on your journey. There are dialogue options that will change your relationships with the characters.
So far this is a pretty decent story, and the writing is very good. It has the potential of being a very powerful and thought-provoking experience.

GRAPHICS
The 2D hand-drawn art style looks really good: the environments are desolate and depressing but never boring and repetitive, and each character has a unique look. However, something that the developers should improve as soon as possible are the animations: they are far too awkward to look out, especially when jumping and rolling, which are much faster than the walking and running animations. This also makes combat much less engaging, with enemies that react with the same animation each time they get it, making the whole demo feel more dull than it could be.

GAMEPLAY
At its core, the game is a brawler, and boy does the combat need a lot of polishing! You have a fast attack, a heavy attack, a double-barreled shotgun, and akimbo pistol and SMG. While you can try to use some combos, you will mostly resort to using the fast attack since the heavy one takes too much time to hit someone. Shooting also feels very awkward, and the weapons don’t deal nearly as much damage as one might expect since ammo are very scarce in this world.
Right now, there are mainly three types of enemies: the normal melee ones, the ones with shotguns, and the big and heavy ones. Whenever you hit them, a health bar appears over their head and they enter a very short stun-time. Because of the poor animations, it isn’t always clear if you actually landed a hit or not, and most of the times the enemies will attack even if you just hit them, forcing you to either roll back or take a very powerful hit.
Another aspect of the game is that it wants to be a mixture of both metroidvania and RPG. So far, the demo makes the game feel pretty linear, even though you can use a map to choose which locations to visit. In the towns you will find quest givers that require you to find objects or defend certain areas, as well as shop keepers who will sell you resources such as food and bullets. And you sure as hell are gonna need food.

CHALLENGE
Every time you get hit, you will lose A LOT of health, and if you die you will start back from the last checkpoint with the same amount of health, food and ammo that you had. To recover health, you must eat food, which works similarly to The Witcher 3: it regens a certain % of health in a span of X seconds. However, the amount of health that you replenish barely works with how much damage the enemies deal. And good luck trying to avoid the shotgunners, since their attack will most likely kill you in a couple of shots.
The developers need to rework the whole damage that you and the enemies deal, as well as how the health system works. I would like to regain more health every time I restart from a checkpoint, otherwise the game will start getting more frustrating and less enjoyable.

SOUND
The voice acting is pretty good, with the narrator doing a great Logan Cunningham impression. The sound design and soundtrack are also very solid.

REPLAYABILITY
There is no big replayability in the demo, but the final game will supposedly have multiple paths, choices and endings that will make this a replayable game.

As far as demos go, this shows a lot of promise, and if the developers manage to improve the combat and animations, we might have a pretty great story-driven action RPG.

 

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