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shattered realms,gaming,sa gaming

Shattered Realms: a local tribute to classic brawlers

Newly founded Cape Town studio Kopskop Games has released the alpha demo for their debut title, Shattered Realms, a title the devs describe as a “love letter to yesteryear’s brawlers, with today’s fighting game tech”.

While playing Shattered Realms, I often found myself recalling Capcom classics like Street Fighter II and Final Fight III. Think high-flying combos, perpetually increasing swarms of enemies, and gorgeous nostalgia-inducing pixel art. I also specifically mention these two games because Shattered Realms tries to nestle itself in that sweet spot between a beat ’em up and a versus fighter, and, so far, achieves it rather well.

According to the devlog by lead programmer, Pieter Visser, Shattered Realms is inspired by the Guilty Gear franchise and brawlers like Alien vs Predator and Battle Circuit.

“We wanted to create the feeling of power one gets from pulling off a big combo in a fighting game, but in a brawler setting, with more enemies and more opportunities for chaos. Choosing which mechanics to take from either genre was our biggest initial priority.”

Prior to this alpha release, the development process was “incubated” by fellow Cape Town devs and Broforce creators, Free Lives.

“[Free Lives] offered to incubate the development of a vertical slice to help produce high quality art and audio. This would then be used to help test whether there was a broader audience for our game,” it reads in the Shattered Realms devlog.

My thoughts

shattered realms,game,gaming,sa gaming

As a title in its alpha stage of development, Shattered Realms is a surprisingly polished experience and already serves as strong proof of concept. From the “power synthwave” tracks pumping in the background to the buttery smooth and vibrant pixel art animations, Shattered Realms has found its footing and walks the walk it talks.

The first thing that struck me was its sense of personality. It’s a game that knows what it wants to be. Nothing seems out of place, with each element complimenting each another. In a way, although its experience is still small and contained, it already feels like a working game, and one that can only get better from here on out, we assume.

There are also hints of interesting things to come. At the moment there is only one playable character but we can already see the option for two more. After choosing a character, you are prompted to choose a “sponsor”, each one providing you with discounts on items such as health, etc.

This makes me think that there will some sort of shop, maybe even a micro-transaction system? There is also a ‘Versus’ game mode, which I assume will provide us with the opportunity to beat the digital shit out of each other online.

Shattered Realms evokes classic brawlers, but tweaks the formula for a modern audience

As there isn’t much narrative implemented yet, the drive behind your characters and the significance of the above-mentioned sponsors are still a bit unclear. It seems this is intentional though as, according to the development team, the main focus up until now has been to flesh out and establish the combat mechanics.

In terms of gameplay, the fighting mechanics are smooth and the controls intuitive. Here we also experience what sets Shattered Realms apart from similar games: its sandbox combo system. Where most versus fighters, such as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, require you to input a specific pattern of buttons to extend your combo, Shattered Realms allows you to use any of the moves in succession.

“The Combo Sandbox would become the signature aspect of Shattered Realms‘ combat. We found that it made combat feel more intuitive, and negated the need for memorising long strings. In short, it achieves our aim of making deep fighting mechanics more accessible.”

This same accessible and simplistic approach can also be seen in the execution of special moves. Instead of having to write a novel with your controls just to perform a super move, Shattered Realms requires you simply to hold a direction button and tap an action button.

I, for one, think this title shows much promise and I’m extremely excited to see how it evolves. If you’re keen to learn more about Shattered Realms, the development process, and the team behind it, take a look at their website.

Author Bio

Wiehahn Diederichs: Columnist
Capetonian freelance writer and photographer. Wiehahn is a lover of stories in all their forms, and has been an avid gamer since he took his first breath. If he is not working or gaming, he either pours his creative energy into his passion for music or plays foosball in some... More