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Skara Preview

Anthony_LaBella By:
PLAYERS 1- 16 
PUBLISHER 8 Bit Studios 

Fatalities with friends.

Skara: The Blade Remains, an upcoming multiplayer title for PC, attempts to synthesize the best elements of MOBAs, RPGs, and fighting games. At least that's what the developer states. My time with the game failed to effectively demonstrate the first two categories, but it certainly touts plenty of gory multiplayer combat.

Steam early access is being introduced in July, and I had a chance to play an alpha build of the game prior to its release to the public. I should emphasize the "alpha" part again, because what I played was minimal in content and rough around the edges. It currently features basic menus, only two maps and characters, and no music whatsoever. But lack of content is less of a concern in an alpha build—more characters and levels will be added eventually.

Skara offers two game modes: free-for-all and team deathmatch. Much of my time was spent with the latter, which emphasizes the importance of teamwork or at least strength in numbers. Two-on-one or three-on-one fights are the quickest paths to victory, as it takes expert combat skills to escape lopsided battles. The game appears to lack strategic elements outside of basic teamwork though. Much of the time combat devolves into stringing together a few random attacks and simply hoping for the best. I attribute much of that to performance—let's just say the framerate is... not good.

I have to imagine in ideal conditions, Skara is a game in which combos play an important role. Clicking and holding left and right mouse buttons seem to trigger different attacks, and I was particularly fond of my leaping attack after a running start. The game was at its best when I found myself transitioning from one move to the next. At that point I was decimating opponents, and once they're staggered it's fatality time. Skara includes finishing blows that deliver cool-looking animations and plenty of blood. Mortal Kombat fans would be proud.

The two maps in the game—Zem Moorlands and Lava Coliseum—vary in both scope and style. Moorlands is a sprawling desert wasteland surrounded by mountains, which directly affects gameplay. It would often take me a few minutes to reach an opponent on the map, which sharply contrasts Lava Coliseum. The name reflects its look—it's a coliseum surrounded by lava, but it's also quite small which makes for some chaotic battles. Free-for-all on that map with numerous players is absolute madness. I figure the developer included Lava Coliseum as a map for smaller battles, perhaps even one-on-one fights.

Skara: The Blade Remains is in such an early stage at this point, it's hard to know if the developer will deliver on its promise of a MOBA/RPG/Fighting game hybrid. The alpha build clearly focuses on combat, which still needs a lot of work. But as someone who likes visual flare and loves fatalities, it's a game I'll keep my eye on. Others who are interested can find more information about Skara on the game's Kickstarter page.


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