November 08, 2018

PAX Australia - Hands on with Soundfall

What happens when you take Diablo, add some procedural elements and throw out the eerie music, replacing it with a phat beat, well you get Soundfall. The game was on show at PAX Australia, with the two members of its development studio, Drastic, on hand to talk about the game.

It is important to note, that while the music for these tracks, in the build on show, was the same for each difficulty, in the full game, there will be multiple tracks to choose from. The goal of the game is simple, get to the end of each stage, before the music stops, because if you fail to, its game over, but getting to the end is not as easy as you might expect, thanks to the randomised nature of the levels.

Each stage, even the same ones I saw at PAX Australia, contained a basic beginning and end, but the parts that made up the middle were always changing, even if some parts looked the same, their placement was never repeated. Of course, as the game is based around music and the beat of the track, you need to play with that and not in a Guitar Hero sense, but more that you really need to be one with the beat, as the more in sync you are, the more of a beatdown you can give the enemies.

The game gives you several visual clues, as to the beats pattern with the most prominate being the bar down the bottom of the screen. When you attack, if you do that on the beat, your attack with deal more damage, whilst you can attack off the beat, it takes longer to defeat, even the more basic enemies and as you have a time limit, you will want to stick to the beat. The longer you maintain your connection to the beat, the better your combo, which will help your final score, which is something else to monitor, but how you attack is up to you.

Melody, the character that you play as, has both a sword and a gun, so you can get in close and hack and slash, or stand back and fire at will, the only catch is that some enemies require you to use one specific move. In one of the harder stages at the show, it was impossible to use a sword on one enemy, as it was on a tiny little island, but without defeating it, the way forward would not open, so it was time for the gun.

Attacking was quite a simple thing, one trigger fired the gun, the other swung the sword, the other move that Melody has is the dash move, which lets her get around faster, but there is a slight delay between uses, so its not over powered. Combining all those moves, with the beat, may sound easy, but trust me is it not, I witnessed some attendees jump into the hardest level, only to have the game soundly (yes, music pun) defeat them. Even after watching people play the game and talking with Julian from Drastic Games, I still barely made it to the end with time on the song.

Because music is at the core of the game, above the combat and levels, Drastic Games have enlisted the help of some professionals to make the music for the game and it’s a shame I can’t let you listen to it here. Thankfully it does not fall into the full-on doof-doof style of music, which given the games beat based nature would be easy to do, but instead, is more of a blend of dance/techno and orchestral, at least the ones I listened to.

While my time with the game was short, as these events tend to be, there is no denying the passion that Julian was able to convey, whilst chatting with him. The core of the gameplay feels nice and solid and I can only begin to imagine that with a great pair of headphones and away from a convention, it would be far to easy to get lost in the game, attempting to get the best score and reach the end of any level, before diving back in and doing it all over again.

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