EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Johnathan Irwin
previewed on PC
Enter The Arena
Imagine yourself in a world ruled not by diplomacy, but by the sword. Where only the strong have survived the cataclysmic events that tore the world asunder, and only the stronger still have any hope of making their way. Where the rule of law is for naught, and only violence reigns true. Pretty horrific image right? But, it makes for an enticing game premise.
Skara - The Blade Remains is a title currently in Early Access on Steam, and the premise of it is centered around multiplayer arena battles in such a world. To say it's early on it the development cycle does not quite prepare one for it: it's currently in a very rough state even by Early Access standards. That being said, I had fun in my time with it when I was able to find an opponent to play against but at the same time I am fully aware that my experience is only reflective of the current state of the game, and not where the people at 8-Bit Studio intend to take it.
Forged By Chaos
What the developers are aiming for is a PVP experience based around skill and reaction time - not gear - and going with a general groove put in place by the playerbase. Over the next several months we are to expect several arenas, five different playable races with distinct strengths and weaknesses in combat, and several game modes ranging from a free for all experience to team based slaughterfests. In the game's current state we only have access to one race which happens to be the spear and shield possessing Celea, and a single arena to do battle in.
Unfortunately, I was not able to play the number of matches I would've prefered as at the moment it seems like there are either very few players, or simply few players on at the times in which I played, but what I was able to see gave me the briefest of glimpses into this gladiator style fighting game. Unable to find a match, I hosted my own and after a few minutes of waiting and figuring out the basic controls a contender finally entered the battlefield. In this one-on-one fray, we battled back and forth in a crumbling arena with a center that had a drop away floor, surrounded by death on all sides. The controls currently feel a little stiff but all the same it was rather fun. The combat itself is not overly complicated, with a left click and right click attack and a button set aside for blocking, which indeed makes it all about skill and reaction time unless a rather laggy match comes into frame. I managed to get in a few matches of one versus one intensity, with a mix of wins and losses, but unfortunately at this point I was unable to experience a match with multiple people which I feel is the way the game will shine most.
The Dust Settles
It's going to be interesting to keep an eye on Skara and see where the road of development takes it. Early Access is often a double edged sword, with both good and bad products coming into existence because of it. At first glance with my time in it, Skara indeed has potential and a lot of it. Should you decide to purchase it now, just be aware that it is far from finished and at present only a small taste of what is hopefully to come.
Many arena based pvp games are not of this sort, being rather in the vein of League of Legends or DotA2, so this is refreshing. It may not appeal to the MOBA crowd, nor do I suspect it's trying to, but it could appeal easily to those who want a skill based experience that is set apart from other current online pvp trends.
The game has potential, but we're not ready to jump in with both feet. If the game interests you, look, but don't touch - yet.