To the Death has been seeking funding on Kickstarter and recently released a demo to show off the look and feel of the game. It’s more prototype than full slice, but even in its minimal form it shows off some tight mechanics in its combat gameplay. To the Death has been billing itself as a side-scrolling brawler/shooter, and now that we’ve gotten a look at how the pieces fit together that description makes a lot more sense.
The protoype/demo is a simple score attack with a few enemy types attacking in waves. Some slash while other shoot fireballs or arrows, and your armored badass has several ways to deal with their attacks. “Hit back” is a favorite, of course, with sword swipes controlled twin stick shooter-style, but he’s also got a shield and dash move for defense. Running along the ground sees him dragging the sword behind, and a meter fills up until the sword is Sharpened (instead of, somehow, Destroyed) for extra damage. Fly, dodge, and swing at everything that moves is the name of the game, and that includes batting projectiles back at the attackers.
While the demo is pretty straightforward, there are some subtleties to the combat. There seems to be a damage range for the sword, where attacking from the right distance is more effective than just crashing into an enemy and swinging away, although it’s hard to be sure seeing as there’s not a lot of documentation. While that may be a figment of my imagination, enemies do seem to go down in one hit a lot more often with proper positioning. More definite is the Overpower move, which is triggered when making an attack as the sword flashes. When you don’t attack, every few seconds a glimmer of light runs down the sword to flash at its tip, and if you attack during the flash a beam of energy flies across the screen and wipes out whatever it hits. Dodging a swarm of enemies and their fire power while carefully timing a sword swipe for maximum effectiveness is a tricky maneuver, but well worth it when you clear the screen with a single move. If you miss one or two, odds are good the flying bodies will smack into them for a momentary stun, and you can either fly in for a sword swipe or use the weak pistol to pick off the final bit of damage.
The demo for To the Death is open to everyone, so head on by and give it a look. It’s got a great visual style and some promising mechanics, and while it doesn’t give a full-featured overview of everything the game has to offer it’s still gives a good sense of what Scary Mostro is aiming for. There’s a long way to go on the road to Kickstarter completion, but the prototype shows off some ideas that look like they’d be a lot of fun in an epic flying brawling action-fest.