Ebony Spire Heresy Review | First Person Turn Based Roguelike Dungeon Crawler RPG Gameplay
Good mornin-afternoo-vening, dear readers and welcome to The Ebony Spire: Heresy, a first-person, turn based, roguelike, dungeon crawler, RPG that is a great example of what indie games are about, as far as I’m concerned - taking risks.
Not only with the genre in general, let’s face it, dungeon crawlers haven’t been on the “to do list” of major developers or publishers for the last - maybe 20 years, but also with the choice of minimalistic graphics and a particularly weird and new gameplay mechanic.
Ebony Spire: Graphics
The choice of exploded 8-bit pixelart aesthetic should be easy to understand, the game was made just by one dude, and to be honest, that’s something that I would do as well if I were to start developing an indie videogame. Maybe not 8-bit precisely, but definitely pixelart. Not necessarily because it’s easier to do - don’t get me wrong, it is, and this is a very valid reason by its self - but also because I really love pixelart, and I think a lot of current gamers, starting from their late ‘20s onwards, have at the very least a nostalgic link to the art style.
The game’s look reminded me of Wolfenstein 3D to be honest, especially the walls and the doors. Though much less so in terms of animation, unfortunately the enemy sprites don’t feature any animations, at least not yet, so you’ll be basically fighting cardboard cutouts. But on the other hand, they’re not bad-looking cardboard cutouts, just that it would’ve been much cooler with some extra sprite animations.
Ebony Spire: Gameplay
So anyway, being a dungeon crawler you’ll be moving on a square grid, picking up items and either using them and outfitting them via the super simple and JRPG-style menu system, or you’ll be throwing them at your enemies.
This is where the weird and new gameplay mechanic comes into play, because you can also throw any and all of your items at your enemies, to cause damage. And I’m not talking about items meant to be thrown at enemies, such as Fire Bombs or Throwing Knives. No, you can throw pieces of armor at them, books, potions, everything that can be picked up, can also be throw at enemies.
But now comes the extra twist of the throwing mechanic because the enemies can do the same. That’s right, in Ebony Spire: Heresy, the enemies can also pick up items from the floor and throw them at you. They can also use them by the way, so that’s on top of the throwing, but the throwing is the fun part.
There’s no real tutorial, you’ll need to read a bit of text explaining how to move and interact with the world, not a deal-breaker, but something that could be fixed in the future as well.
The roguelike aspects are also important to mention since they help the game not be repetitive. This is also helped by the fact that levels look different from one another, but the main thing is the fact that each level is randomly generated when you enter it.
And what other roguelike mechanic goes with randomly generated levels and RPGs? Why, permadeath, of course! So look forward to restarting the game many-a time.
Ebony Spire: Sound
While the dev did a solid job making the game work, and be fun to play from a gameplay perspective, I don’t think he’s also a composer or sound person, so the game does lack an interesting soundtrack and sounds. While the latter can be fixed in the future relatively easy, the lack of cool music is something that might require a bit more financial investment. However, neither of those were a problem for me because I just turned them down and listened to other things. That’s actually something I tend to do a lot while I play games, I love listening to podcasts while gaming, for instance.
Ebony Spire: Future
The Ebony Spire: Heresy, as it is now, is a great casual-type of experience, something that’s great to have and turn on for quick sessions as a means of decompressing from work or school. Come to think of it, it’s also something that might work really well on mobile.
The great thing is that the developer - Bearded Giant Games - is very keen on constantly working on and improving the game, taking feedback to heart and fixing what needs fixing or adding what needs to be added.
So it’s not hard for me to suggest you buy the game outright now, knowing that it will continue to be supported and improved upon, as time goes by.
I think the Ebony Spire will look and feel completely different in 6 months time, so think about it like you’ll be getting to play more than one game for the price of one. I’ll make sure to give it a look towards the middle of 2018 to see if I’m right or not.
As far as the pricing is concerned, as of mid-November 2017, the game is 7 Euros on Steam - or equivalent in your region’s currency - and it’s definitely worth it, if this sounds like your jam.
On the other hand, if this only sounds somewhat like your jam, wait a couple of weeks for the autumn and winter sales to hit and pick it up at a discount, it’ll be worth it.
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Ebony Spire: Heresy on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/725040/Ebony_Spire_Heresy/
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