The atmospheric strategy/horror game Othercide, which has been germinating since 2018, was one of the more intriguing games shown at PAX East this past February. With its minimalist color palette, mysterious premise, and unforgiving gameplay, it certainly made an impression. Now that the release date is announced and less than a month away, here's what we know so far about this ambitious sophomore effort from Lightbulb Crew.
What is Othercide?
Othercide is a tactical RPG with roguelite elements and a heavy horror theme. It's a new, strikingly original IP by French indie game studio Lightbulb Crew, and published by Focus Home Interactive.
Fans of squad-based tactical strategy games like XCOM and grimdark roguelite RPGs such as Darkest Dungeon should both be satisfied with what Othercide has to offer. You should expect a single-player, isometric turn-based experience with punishing tactical gameplay and a deep story, packaged in an unsettling, but gorgeous gothic aesthetic.
What's the story of Othercide?
The game touts a storyline that's complex and in-depth, but so far, details about it are cryptic and vague. This is by design since, according to art director Alexandre Chaudret, the game features an emergent narrative that only shows itself to the player if they decide to go looking for it. Fans of FromSoftware's Souls game series will already be familiar with this storytelling approach. The style often leaves players to draw their own conclusions based on hints provided by environment details and little crumbs of dialogue.
What we do know at this stage is that you command an army of female soldiers referred to as Daughters, who are somehow birthed from the memories and experiences of an immortal warrior, named the Mother. You use this army to fight a horde of hellish creatures called the Suffering — monsters similarly created from the painful memories and traumatic experiences of a tortured being known as the Child. These grotesque living nightmares are invading this dimension by crossing through a barrier called the Veil.
It's all very mysterious and Freudian, and you can look forward to discovering more about the game's lore when it's released at the end of this month.
What's Othercide's gameplay like?
Othercide's gameplay revolves around its strategic turn-based combat system. Player units and enemies position themselves on a square grid and attack each other, XCOM-style. The game brings some originality to this recipe with its Dynamic Timeline System. It's similar to a modified initiative system, but each unit's next turn will come sooner or later, depending on how many Action Points they use during their current turn. Some abilities also have delayed actions that show up on the timeline. With effects that advance friendly units' turns or delay enemies, managing this timeline system will be vital to mastering Othercide's combat.
Another unique gameplay aspect of Othercide is how the game handles health recovery. The only way to heal a Daughter is to permanently sacrifice another Daughter after a battle. This high-stakes healing approach forces players to use caution in combat, and make some tough parenting decisions between fights.
That's not the only harsh lesson Othercide's gameplay has to teach, either. The game expects you to lose and start again from scratch eventually. The catch is that when you do, you earn points to unlock "remembrances" that give you more and more advantages for each new attempt. This playthrough loop, as well as the unit sacrifice, permadeath, and randomized unit stats, are what earns this game its "roguelite" tag.
The aesthetics of Othercide
By far, the most distinctive thing about Othercide is its art style. The game is entirely black and white with red accents. The effect is striking and otherworldly; it contributes a lot to the game's overall atmosphere. It's a drastic change from Lightbulb Crew's first release, the color-saturated Games of Glory. Plus, it integrates itself into the gameplay in an interesting way. Each Daughter has a long red scarf, and as they lose health, the red color empties like a health bar.
Body horror is another aesthetic element Othercide uses effectively. Enemies are grotesque and misshapen, with extra limbs and faces showing up in all kinds of strange bodily places. Plus, they move with creepy twitches and lurches. To top it off, unborn Daughters grow inside large tumorous masses.
The final effect, combined with the all-female player unit roster, feels something like Sin City meets Cronenberg meets Nier: Automata. It's a bold art direction, and it makes Othercide stand out visually.
When does Othercide release, and on what platforms?
In addition to the PC release on Steam, Othercide will also be available on PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. The official release date for Othercide is July 28 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with a Switch release sometime soon after. There's no word yet on a physical release in stores but check back for updates. You can pre-order a digital copy for PC now at Green Man Gaming.
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