Heads up, you gamers who love to pitch in on promising Kickstarter projects – and especially those who also happen to be fans of games like Descent, aka, floating around and navigating complicated 3D caverns with your high-tech vehicle – action and exploration combined into one. If you were ever a fan of that series, you’re going to want to check out Cadenza Interactive’s hopeful PC project, Retrovirus. Story and gameplay details, along with a couple screenshots, after the click.
I managed to get some sit-down time with this game’s alpha build, and three things struck me right away: first, Retrovirus felt very polished for an alpha. While the story of Retrovirus didn’t become clear to me during my playthroughs – unsurprisingly, the whole ‘opening cinematics’ thing has yet to be completed – the context was made clear. The game takes place inside of a computer, with your character tasked with hunting down a virus that has started to (very rapidly) infect the computer and connected systems you call… well, either “home” or “work”. Perhaps both.
Secondly, though I only had access to a few maps, they were large, sprawling, and impressive – they really managed to capture the feel of the Descent series that they’re clearly paying an homage to. Finally, that “homage” manifests in another way – despite the game taking place within a computer’s internals, the environment is still surprisingly… rocky. As in literal rocks. Granted, it’s mixed with high-tech abstract interpretations of a computer’s internals, but it was almost as if the game took place on an asteroid that, somehow, got turned into a cyborg. That’s not a complaint, and frankly I’m more than willing to roll with their artistic interpretation of being “inside” a computer, but it did get a grin out of me.
The grin, however, was quickly replaced by a look of excitement. It’s been far too long since I’ve been able to enjoy a game like this, and you guys who’ve played Descent will probably know what I mean straightaway. There’s something hard to describe about being slapped down inside a sprawling, twisting, three-dimensional maze that you have to explore and fight through, something that doesn’t really get reflected in the closest variant, namely the FPS game genre. It’s a mix of wonder, disorientation, and – when you come across allies of the virus you’re hunting down – good old-fashioned gun-blazing, with a dash of y-axis maneuvering thrown in. The folks at Cadenza really know what they’re doing when it comes to the layout, which is arguably the most important part of the whole game. The levels I played around in were just deep enough to leave me disorientated and a little confused, but not so much that I felt frustrated and completely lost. That’s a hard balance to strike, and made me want to keep coming back for more. So I can endorse, at this stage of the game, the general design concept behind this Kickstarter.
Cadenza Interactive intends to give this game a 5-6 hour campaign, some intelligent AI to make for “unscripted level encounters”, some online deathmatch modes, and – most interesting – a “DOTA style” (League of Legends, for those of you not familiar with Dawn of the Ancients) multiplayer option. I can’t even imagine what that’s going to begin to be like, and really, it will be icing on what’s shaping up to be an otherwise interesting, er… game-cake.
That said, Cadenza’s getting close to the last week of their Kickstarter hopes on this one, and as of this writing they have $13,481 pledged of their $70,000 goal. So if any of this seems enticing to you, you’ve got a chance to help make this project come alive. Go ahead and check out their aforementioned Kickstarter page, and decide for yourself if this project is one you’re willing to give a chance. Here’s hoping the guys at Cadenza Interactive meet their goal and bring the whole 3D six-degree ship exploration genre back for everyone.