You’re a titan, there’s cameras floating around you, the audience is bloodthirsty, and as the announcer bellows out, “Forced Showdown” you run straight towards the enemies ready to clear yet another arena as you battle your way to the big boss level!
Forced Showdown surprised me. I’m honestly not a fan of card based mechanics in computer games – so, when I viewed the screenshots for it and all I saw was a load of cards strewn across the screen… I wasn’t exactly grabbed. Still, I decided to go for it, bite my tongue, and play against the grain. Thankfully though, after the initial impressions, it turns out that the card game mechanic is just one small part of what turned out to be a really great game.
You play as one of a variety of contestants who have found themselves the contestants of a galactic game show. The kind of show where a lot of mindless death occurs. Your goal is to work through seven stages in an arena, preparing yourself through them for a final, eighth stage – the big, bad boss stage. Each of the characters have different abilities and attacks, with a nice mix of speeds and ranges across the characters – I much preferred the ranged characters over melee, mostly because those I played as had a vastly faster attack. Always useful for kiting.
There are several arenas each tied to various events. I only got to play one of the events – as the next two release on the 29th of March. Each of the arenas are littered with structures and objects, some breakable, some not – there are also various mechanisms and entities that can appear on the map that are harmful to both you and your character. In addition to this some maps have toxic liquid that shoots out of the ground, some have laser shooting robots, some have… It’s all very hectic when it comes down to it.
The character design is really interesting, extremely hardcore looking, and creative. These guys look like proper badass titans. The bosses look incredibly detailed and their personalities are reflected by the weapons and armour. It’s crazy to imagine how much time was spent going into all the characters in this game, I for one am impressed so far. However, I’d be even more impressed if there was an option to change specific parts of the outfit and make your contestant look freaking amazing.
You get to have a companion fight alongside you, but honestly, you don’t really notice it in the field because they run on their own individual AI, and there’s not much interaction you can do with them except let them run their own course. Even the game suggests you don’t worry about them if they die as they’ll respawn in the next stage. They’re cute though, and they actually do help you unlike companions in other games where the AI does no dramatic damage, instead existing to act as a distraction to get some enemies off your back. I’d like to seem more options to control your companion added as they’d be really useful with chaining combo attacks if used right.
Now onto the cards. The cards are essentially power-ups and perks that modify and mutate the game. The cards aren’t limitless, they run based off a mana system. As you pass through each of the stages, the mana points given to you in the next stage are increased. Every card has different Mana costs, so you need to choose whether to go for a couple of cheap cards of blow your Mana on the expensive, more destructive cards.
The types of cards are destructive, health restoring, or wildcard – offering you a random card that is thrown into the deck. Each card you choose gets activated right away and is shown in the currently activated cards area above your health and the collection of attacks available to your character.
That said, from what I’ve seen of the cards and maneuvers in my time with the game they seem mostly focused on the offensive – no parry, block or shield moves – and there were more than a few times I could have done with those.
Cards are dealt out to you four at a time, from a deck you’ve built yourself – you select 30 cards which are then shuffled and re dealt each round. The cards are drawn from a completely blind shuffle, meaning that you could end up with four of the same cards, or even end up dealt cards which you can’t use because you’re not far enough in the levels to have enough mana to play a single one of the cards. Combine this with the fact that mana doesn’t carry over between levels and you’ve got a fantastic reason to think carefully about your deck structure, and definitely be careful about the mana requirements of the majority of your cards.
Currently the game is listed as singleplayer only, which does make sense considering it’s a one-life only card-based arena game, but, strangely it includes a chat/text function. You can hit enter and send text. I presume that this added in for Streamers to talk to their audience – but that said, in a fast paced game like this it seems an odd way of managing it. Maybe it’s for cheat codes – someone still does cheat codes right?
The game does have a Twitch section within it’s options – so after all it may be an aid or tie in to the service – maybe I’ll hop onto stream and give it a go, see what it’s all about. In which case you can expect a follow up piece from me.
In it’s current state Forced Showdown is a great, action-packed game with a fantastic balance of features, and a lot of potential for future development. As a matter of fact, the game could really grow into something massive if the developers add in a few features – I for one would like to see a parry or block system, maybe also a way to influence your companion. And between you and me, while it already has a lot going on, I think more explosions are needed. It’s 100% worth a look.