Demo date October 2016. Build 15.6
Depth of Extinction is a retro pixel art RPG with a modern turn-based, tactical combat system. Recruit and lead your team on raids in undersea habitats containing all that remains of humanity. A modern spin on the classic gameplay made popular by the likes of X-Com and Rebelstar Raiders. A roguelike permadeath “feature” seems to market this game strictly for the hardcore audience.
The demo isn’t time limited. It’s “gated” by a difficulty curve. This is achieved by simply playing the game. You have a separate user level stat which goes up as you complete objectives. These slowly ramp up as you finish missions. On my first run, I managed to get to level 8 with a win/loss ratio of 21-0. By that time the only mission choices were either titled hard or impossible.
You start off with three team slots. A further two can be unlocked by successfully completing specific missions. Your raw recruits can be customised with a randomizer which cycles a couple of robot and human looks. This also can be used to name your troops.
Experience is gained from killing the various denizens of the submarine base. This tied to individual troops and not the party. Once you hit level one you can select a class if you have previously unlocked it. My initial run through uncovered the following specialisations. Gunner, Defender, Mechanic, Medic and Operative. These can be combined with the following weapon types: Assault, Sprayer, Sniper and Energy.
The game loop has the usual two phases. One for movement, item use, skill buff. The second for defending, attacking and overwatch (cover fire). All this is displayed clearly on the screen. Cover icons show how much protection the surroundings offer. They can be turned off in the options menu, once the player becomes accustomed to the various maps provided in the demo.
DOE has an interesting art style. The colour palette is mostly slate greys and muted blues, With a sprinkle of reds and ambers to signify explodable crates. Immediately I was getting a Metal Gear Solid vibe. This is a good thing, It lends to the tone of the game and adds a cohesive aesthetic overall.
Keeping with the retro theme, a word has to be said about the soundtrack. This is right up my alley. A thumping synthwave experience, full of Linndrum samples, DX7 washes and the like. An audio treat for anybody brought up on Moroder, Jan Hammer and late era Tangerine Dream.
Early impressions are very promising. I like the overall feel of the game. Given that the demo build is six months old, a lot has changed since then. A recent youtube video by the lead programmer shows many UI and graphical updates. The final release promises Procedurally generated levels, which to my knowledge is a first for this genre. Whether the pathfinding model can handle this on the fly, will be very interesting. The devs are also pushing for 15+ enemy types, each with their own A.I routines. I’m stoked to finally have, what I would call a classic style TRPG coming to PC. If Hof Studios can make good on their roadmap, then fans of the genre will have a whole chunk of strategic goodness to chomp into.