Let it henceforth be known that having fishmen of any kind in your game is a surefire way of corralling my attention. Not least because they’re one of the great overlooked peoples of the videogame world. Take a look around today’s vast gaming landscape and ask yourself: Where are the fishmen? The Elder Scrolls games are a prime example – cat people and lizard people in abundance, but where are the fish people? Why can’t I play an undersea MMO where I spend four hours in the character generation screen adjusting the angle of my gills? Why doesn’t Admiral Akbar have his own game? And no, we’re not counting James Pond because he was rubbish.
While Four Realms does indeed feature wonderful fishmen (or indeed, they might be fishladies – to its credit, the graphics aren’t explicitly gendered), there’s a lot more going on here. The trailer made me think of Risk Of Rain crossed with the old fantasy beat ’em ups of eighties arcades, but the PR bumph also cites X-COM and FTL as influences. On top of that there’s a spell system inspired by collectible card games, with the whole thing tilted toward creative play where you improvise your way through randomized encounters. Yeah, this all sounds pretty ace.
The key influence seems to be a game called King Arthur’s World, a platform-puzzler of the SNES era which I haven’t played – this probably explains why I can’t quite get a handle on where this one is coming from.
Developer Delvin Mason has a decent pedigree, having worked on both Mushroom Men and Ghostbusters on the Wii among other stuff. Even so, the Kickstarter looks to have stalled with only a few days to go. I suspect development will continue regardless, which makes this one to watch even if you don’t want to put your money down. But why wouldn’t you want to put your money down? It has fishmen, ferchrissakes.
It’s all too much. Here’s an Augie March video.