Developer Still Games is funding a new action/adventure RPG called Animal Gods. This 2D, open-world game takes place in Bronze Age Europe, around 1500 BC. You play as Thistle, an agile warrior who’s trying to destroy a curse cast on the Animal Gods. Armed with a trusty 17th Century BC bronze sword, you must explore the kingdom of Old England and face down enemies and puzzles alike to free the plagued creatures. Check out the trailer here.
Last week, Still Games released a short preview build to tantalize backers and followers alike. I was able to play through the demo in about six minutes. But even in that short amount of time, I saw a lot to love about Animal Gods.
The game’s visuals are striking. Though it’s 2D, it’s highly stylized and deeply rooted in Bronze Age art. Vivid colors, geometric shapes, and clean lines are combined with ancient motifs such as tribal animal carvings and triskelions. This creates an atmosphere that feels ancient and even a bit primitive, but its vibrant palette keeps it from feeling dated or bare. The design is also deeply rooted in nature, with added touches like moving clouds and rushing waterfalls. (There is also ambient waterfall noise in the preview, which really adds to the sense of being there in spite of the whimsical graphics.)
Still Games studio says that the gameplay pairs the refined combat of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds with story elements and characters that might remind you of a classic JRPG. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to experience much of this in the demo, which consisted of just one combat encounter and one puzzle.
In the combat encounter, I faced a group of enemies that tried to gang up on me the moment I left my port. Because this is an alpha preview, I didn’t expect to see many of the mechanics that are promised for the final game. Pressing my C button warded them off and landed some damage, but if I didn’t swing quickly enough, they’d get too close and knock me out almost instantly. I don’t know if enemies will behave the same way in the final product, but I do hope to see a little more opportunity for strategy (which will likely come with the addition of a second weapon, the Rift Bow, and weapon upgrades). I’m happy to report, though, that it does feel a lot like Legend of Zelda without being a carbon copy.
The puzzles proved a little more challenging than the combat. Pressing the F key activates the dash ability. This was necessary to jump between platforms and avoid dangerous obstacles. In the demo, I had to time my dashes to safely cross a walkway dotted with pulsing death rays. (I’m not entirely sure what they actually were, but they killed me instantly if they hit.) Not only is good timing required, but I also had to be careful of the number of consecutive dashes I used. To avoid a “death ray”, for example, I may have to use just one dash. The next one may require two. But if I add a third to that, I’ll run right into another trap. That definitely kept me on my toes and engaged me with the game, even in a condensed form.
In spite of a few typical hang-ups (which are to be expected in demos and alphas), I’m really impressed with what I’m seeing. And I’m so excited to see more. This game’s stunning aesthetic, paired with a rich historical setting and solid mechanics, definitely make it a title to keep your eye on.
If you’re interested, you can play the preview build yourself by visiting the Animal Gods Kickstarter page.
The campaign is coming down to its last few days, so there’s still time to donate what you can if you’re able. If you’re not, you can still play through the mini-preview and support the devs by approving the game on Steam Greenlight and spreading the word. Or you can visit the webstore and continue to support them there after the Kickstarter campaign is over.
The final version of Animal Gods is set for release by the end of 2016, and will be available for PC, Mac, Linux, and Wii U. If Still Games meets its stretch goals, we’ll also be seeing it on PS4.