After jdodson’s interview with the developers of Hammerwatch, we got to take a beta for a spin. We recorded a lets play of us playing Survival (in which Jon is awesome, by the way), which you can watch above as well as our first impressions below. Read on for our thoughts on this early build of the game, as well as some follow-up questions that came out of our test.

Let me just say, this game is amazing. It starts off tricky, and the difficulty curve continues at about the same pace as your upgrades, so be prepared to stay alert.

Hammerwatch is heavily inspired by Gauntlet but takes the genre a few steps forward in very unique ways. Choosing one of the four classes players take on the foes of Castle Hammerwatch, and can choose from Paladin, Wizard, Ranger, or Warlock (currently unavailable in the beta). For most of the night, I was a Paladin and Jon was a Wizard. Each class requires an entirely different playstyle, so the replay value is high.

The level design was my favorite part. You’ll frequently walk past locked doors that require a key you don’t have, or an obvious path you want to take that’s blocked by spikes. At one point we came upon a big letter “A” and had no clue how to get to the room containing it, or what it even does. Occasionally you’ll walk straight through a wall and find something awesome waiting for you on the other side. These design choices keep the game flowing, pushing you on toward more exploration.

The enemies are varied, and as you progress through the floors of the castle, you get harder variants of each enemy type. The different attacks each enemy has makes them better suited for players in different classes, so at launch I imagine a well-rounded team with each class represented will be the best way to play, though I’m sure quad-Paladin and quad-Wizard games will hit youtube showing off their badassery.

The 16-bit-inspired graphics are charming, and the sprites are well-designed. This will remind you of the SNES RPGs you grew up with, but with more definition and depth.

The music does a very good job at setting the mood and making you feel like you’re on an epic quest. It doesn’t get tired but occasionally the tracks don’t blend into each other perfectly, showing off a bit of the early beta stripes.

The game we played was an early beta, but if it was sold as it is now with just a few tweaks, we’d be happy. As it stands now the game shines in single-player and co-op and we have no doubt that by launch this game will be stellar.

After playing the beta we had a few questions for Jochum and Niklas we didn’t know to ask in the first interview, and we thank them for taking the time to talk to us and let us in on the Hammerwatch beta.

jdodson: First off the game is fantastic so congratulations on that! As Travis and I were playing multiplayer I couldn’t stop playing! I just had to progress a bit more, it was quite a lot of fun!

Thank you! We're really glad you like it.

Travis: Saving isn’t implemented yet, but how will it work when that’s complete? Will your game autosave when you walk over a checkpoint? In addition, will you be able to bring any character into a multiplayer game?

We might change it if it doesn't work well, but yeah, right now we're thinking that we should just autosave when stepping on the checkpoints and maybe when walking between levels. Moving characters between saves (like between a singleplayer and multiplayer save) will probably not be allowed since there are balance issues with what upgrades have been bought and how much money you have. We also probably won't allow moving characters beween different level scenarios (like the campaign and suyrvival scenario) because of the same issue.

jdodson: The Warlock isn’t included in the Beta-- in what way you are changing this class so he will be included back into the game?

We're not sure how the warlock will end up yet. In our first implementation of him he summoned monsters that would fight for him, but that just wasn't very fun so we will have to think of something else.

jdodson: Travis and I played multiplayer as a Paladin and Wizard respectively. What are your strategies for the Paladin to keep him protected during battles? As the tank he takes quite a bit of punishment but can often go down faster because he is always at the front line of the battle.

In the first few levels the paladin can be a bit tricky since you need to move around more with him than the other characters, but later on you get the shield upgrade which protects him from incoming projectiles so that he can easily take out ranged enemies. He also gets a heal spell which heals him and the rest of the party which should help with his survivability.

Travis: The level design in Hammerwatch is very compelling and complex. Having things just out of reach that you don’t unlock until later entices the player to keep at it. When designing the castle, how did you keep the design moving such that the player was led forward by revisiting familiar locations.

We try to always show some kind of goal for the player, so something like being able to see a key on the minimap or a checkpoint on the other side of a wall. The levels used to be a bit more open than they are now, but even with the minimap it got too confusing, so now we're directing the player a little more, at least in the beginning of the game.

Travis: We noticed you decided to use OpenAL for audio support in Hammerwatch and since we are both Open Source fans, really like this choice. In the final version, will this automatically installed for us?

We're not entirely happy with OpenAL right now because of this installation issue, but if we do keep on using it then yes, we will make sure it's installed on your computer so that the sound works properly.

Travis: As jdodson and I were playing we were both playing with joy2key. We are both wondering if controller support will ship native for all players in Hammerwatch?

It will, yes. Even the beta you have actually comes with gamepad support for player 2 if you play it in local multiplayer, we just haven't been able to add control remapping in yet.

jdodson: We both loved playing Survival. How many rounds can this go until the end or can it go to the end of time, assuming you survive that long?

In the beta there are only 5 waves, but in the final version of the game there will be a lot more. We will also lock on the one life modifier when playing survival so that you can't just respawn to keep trying.


jdodson’s initial interview: http://cheerfulghost.com/posts/955

Vote for Hammerwatch on Steam Greenlight: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=122788084

jdodson   Admin wrote on 03/02/2013 at 03:59am

That was an epic survival match and for a bit there wasn't sure we were gonna make it out winning. I dig the Ranger for survival and want to try him out for the regular campaign.

vdogmr25 wrote on 03/02/2013 at 05:09am

Looks like a winner. Can't wait to try it.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 03/02/2013 at 05:05pm

It really is. Single Player and Survival are lots of fun.

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