Home Cartoon budget MythForce’s wonderful cartoon co-op nostalgia is dampened by skeletal action

MythForce’s wonderful cartoon co-op nostalgia is dampened by skeletal action


I have a fondness for cartoons. Growing up in the 80s, these wonderful, poorly animated, cheesy toons had a big impact on me, sparking an interest in all things sci-fi and fantasy that blossomed into a love for history, mythology, technology and, you guessed it, computer and/or video games. Heck, I’m wearing an Ulysses 31 T-shirt as I write this! If it hadn’t been for Masters of the Universe and Thundercats, I wouldn’t be here. I would probably be rich, successful and very boring.

In other words, I was always going to want to take a look at Mythforce, the first person, co-op, roguelite that stabs them from Beamdog. Knowing it was too big a job for just one woman, I sent a message to a hand-picked team of specialists, setting off a humorous montage of their beeping communication watches interrupting their daily lives and forcing them, I don’t don’t know, handing their chats over to random strangers before rushing to answer the call to action. Alone, I may just be Caelyn Ellis, freelance gaming journalist, but when joined by my elite group of gaming legends, we become MYTHFARCE!

Mythforce had already piqued my interest before I was asked to check it out. Even without the wonderful ’80s cartoon aesthetic, first-person melee combat will still pique my interest, and I’m still up for a little co-op with my buddies. If you’ve ever played Left 4 Dead or Warhammer: Vermintide, you’ll have a good idea of ​​what Mythforce is. Grab some friends (or random strangers, or just go solo), choose a character, and try to get to the end of the level without falling prey to the monster and traps that stand in your way. The main difference is that instead of having handcrafted levels, Mythforce uses a series of procedurally generated arenas with fixed backdrops along the way.

Here’s a MythForce gameplay trailer for an idea.

Having just launched as an early access title, the game currently only has the first “episode”, the wonderfully dubbed “Bastion of the Beast Lord”, meaning one level and four playable characters, each with their own special abilities. There’s a tanky slow knight, a backstabbing rogue, a glass cannon mage, and a ranger, because they needed another ranged class I guess. Nothing massively original, but that’s obviously not what they’re looking for. That said, the character designs look great and the banter between them is fun, if still a bit rare at this point.

Mythforce’s biggest selling point is the cartoonish 80s look and that’s something Beamdog absolutely nailed. It looks gorgeous in screenshots and videos, and even more so when you’re actually playing and can take time to look around the environments. Please someone make a sandbox RPG that looks like this so I can hang out and just rock. It’s not just a pretty face either, as the visual style is also practical. Backgrounds and level geometry are all textured in a hand-painted style, while players, mobs, traps, and other interactive objects are all cel-shaded. Not only does this replicate the look and feel of a cartoon, especially those on a low budget where the difference between animated cels and still backgrounds is particularly pronounced, but it makes it easier to analyze the action at hand. screen, even with the chaos of a full, four-player party.

MythForce preview - in a tomb-like area, two cartoon skeletons run towards the player, who has a magic tome equipped with ready-to-use spells.

That’s a good thing, too, because even when playing solo, you’ll regularly have three or more enemies charging towards you at once, while another couple stand in the back throwing arrows and spells at you. your general management. However, they don’t do much more than that, with the AI ​​seemingly limited to standing and shooting or charging. As a result, you’ll frequently find yourself having fought everything in any given arena without going more than a few strides away from the entrance. Skeletons continue to get caught on the edge of platforms, stuck in a forward walking animation with no apparent tendency to jump. That’s until you find the stairs to where they were, only to find they plucked up the courage to jump while your back was turned. Figuratively, it is. They’re skeletons, they don’t really have guts.

There’s plenty of time for Beamdog to turn things around, although it will require a major rework to the core systems, not just a few content drops. I really hope they do…

Yes, I’m sad to report that at this point the nice visual style is all the game has to offer. Mythforce is just very slow. I took this as a positive at first, not liking jittery games and expecting a little more deliberate swordplay, but that’s just not the case. It somehow manages to be both crushing and chillingly paced, with the characters shuffling through the arenas as if wading through molasses. Each character has three abilities, ranging from teleport to shield throw, and they take a while to recharge. So you wait to use them until you really need them, but they don’t have enough impact for you to think they’re worth saving. The basic combat is equally heavy, with each action consuming a lot of stamina, making it all too easy to end up in an exhausted state, watching the bar slowly rise again so you can act again. It wouldn’t be so bad if enemies could be taken down quickly, but even the most basic enemies are arrow sponges, taking more than half of your stamina bar attacks to defeat and that’s before you take in. count blocking and dodging.

MythForce preview - player strikes beige mushroom-like enemy with sword up close, shield equipped in spare hand.

It’s especially shocking because it goes against every expectation the 80s cartoon aesthetic gave me. I wanted to cleave evil throwable minions in half, without having to carefully ration my strikes while fighting off two Jason and the Argonauts Rejects and a Goblin. I am here to be a princess of power, not a pauper. This is the very beginning, Beamdog expects the game to be in Early Access for at least a year, but they have a lot of work to do to make Mythforce worthwhile. I can’t help but compare it to Vermintide, and aesthetic preferences aside, the Warhammer-bound rat splatter and its sequel are light years ahead of Mythforce in every way.

There’s plenty of time for Beamdog to turn things around, although it will require a major rework to the core systems, not just a few content drops. I really hope they do, as I wish I had reason to spend more time in its beautiful surroundings. Right now though, if this was an 80s cartoon, Mythforce would be Thundercats; great intro, not much else goes for it.