Review: Feudal Alloy
I hate bugs. There, I said it. I. Hate. Bugs. I get it, they help pollenate our fruits, flowers, and vegetables. They play a critical role in decompensation and provide us with luxuries like beeswax and honey. It is beyond question that they are vital to maintaining a healthy ecosystem. But you know what else bugs do? They relentlessly swarm you and stab your armor with their piercing stingers over and over again until you start losing oil, your fishbowl head breaks, and you burst into a pile of gears. I know, what you’re thinking…it could be worse. Medieval robot problems, am I right?
Feudal Alloy, the metroidvania-style action RPG coming out later this week, features the worst species of bugs known to man and robot-kind alike. It all starts at the edge of a village in a small cottage near a field of sunflowers. The hero of this epic tale is Attu; a farmer robot with a dream to travel the world. Aware of the dangers outside his village Attu has grown content with his ordinary life and spends his days tending to his fields and gathering sunflower oil to care for the rusty retired veteran robots. But one afternoon things go awry when the village is attacked by a gang of robot bandits who steal the oil supply and the villager’s valuables. It is in this moment that Attu musters the courage to don a sword and venture out into the dangerous woods to take back what was stolen. Using secret underground passages Attu begins his journey to protect his village, bring back the oil, and defeat the evil gang of robots.
Developed by Attu Games, a two person team from the Czech Republic, this hand-drawn world featuring fish-controlled medieval robots took nearly three years to develop, but was well worth the wait. From caves to a castle, it’s easy to immerse yourself in the various environments that the game has to offer. Travel through a series of underground labyrinths to locate the villagers belongings and locate the oil. Hidden chests tucked deep into the tunnels contain keys to secured areas, coins, and maps to help you find your way. Players can use their sword or grenades to blast through blocked-off areas and battle their way through the underground maze. As players discover more areas the map will begin to fill out to display the interconnected rooms.
Each room features various sets of enemies that Attu must battle through to get to the next area or protected chest. But don’t think the fight ends after your bout; each time you return to an area all the enemies will respawn and you’ll have to fight them once again, making your journey particularly arduous. There are various types of enemies from stationary robots with spikes that send out waves of electrical shocks, to walking robots with huge round saw blades for hands, to small robot wasps that attack you ruthlessly. And if you think those sound tough don’t even get me started on the bigger red waspbots or the robotic bugs with propellers that hover over you dropping bombs. Have I mentioned how much I hate bugs?
Nearly every part of the map will have robots to contend with but nothing compares to the arena rooms. Sliding pod doors release an onslaught wave of robots to battle in order to access more areas of the map. It’s important to stock up on supplies before entering these areas because as the game progresses the more difficult the arenas become. They are also conveniently located far away from the supply tent so if you run out of supplies you’ll have to make your way all the way back to the start just to load up on gear and try not to waste any of it on your way back to the arena.
Players will quickly notice how fragile Attu is from the start of the game. He’s only able to swing his sword so many times before his system overheats. Once his gauges show he’s overheating he cannot swing his sword anymore, making him extremely vulnerable to enemies who can keep attacking. But with enough coins gathered from fallen enemies and chests, Attu can purchase armor and upgrades to increase his strength and defense systems. Various sets of armor and parts offer different benefits such as increased oil capacity or increased cooling speeds. Along the way you may even uncover chests that contain various pieces of armor or weaponry, for free! Players can mix and match sets of armor and change out Attu’s legs and arms to build the toughest most badass and fashionable bot they can.
In addition to armor upgrades to protect his fishbowl head, Attu can update his sword and purchase various types of grenades that can be used to shock or freeze enemies. On the journey, players may also locate different modules to add to Attu’s motherboard that will give him new abilities like dashing or blocking. He can even upgrade his skill tree to increase strength and resistance. If you think the enemies at the start of the game are a force to be reckoned with, wait until they start upgrading. The more Attu levels up the more the enemies do too, with bigger meaner bots and bots that wear armor making it even more difficult to stop them in their tracks.
Small pillars located intermittently across the map can be used as save points and refueling stations. It is important to locate these pillars because each time Attu dies in combat he will respawn at the last save point. So if you made your way to the other side of the map you will need to battle all the enemies again to get back to where you left off. This makes the game incredibly challenging, and at times frustrating. But the more of the map you clear the more save points you will locate as well as a teleportation machine that can help you get from one side of the map to the other instantly.
If you had told me I’d spend my entire weekend playing as a goldfish operated robot I would have said…yeah of course, what else would I be doing?! While the story is simple the dynamic action is not. It’s vicious and unyielding and I often found myself frustrated each time I watched Attu turn to a pile of gears all because a robot wasp just had to stab me one too many times. But somehow, I found that I couldn’t put the game down. Each time I thought I must have cleared the map another series of maps would appear; I couldn’t believe how big Attu’s world had grown.
While Feudal Alloy has done nothing to change my opinion of bugs it has taught me to never give up on my dreams and that with a little courage we are all stronger and braver than we believe ourselves to be. Even though I was seemingly terrible at this game based on the number of deaths I accumulated and the amount of times I lost my cool, it’s genuinely a good time. The hand-drawn art is stunning, Attu is charming, and I’ll be humming its medieval track for days to come.
Feudal Alloy will be released on Steam, GOG, Humble Store Nintendo Switch, on January 17th. Release dates for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are expected soon after.
Check out the trailer below:
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