HANDS ON: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

HANDS ON: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

paxindie-1115Tin Man Games are back at PAX Australia this time showcasing their latest game, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and we had the opportunity talking with the developer, Neil and his team while sampling an early build of the game. Similar to other games produced by Tin Man Games, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is a retelling of the classic adventure gamebook of the same name, written by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingston, leading brave and daring adventurers into the depths of the mountain, seeking treasures and wealth beyond their wildest dreams.

The early build featured a young human hero exploring the mountain trying to find any treasure along the way, fighting and/or avoiding any orcs inhibiting the mountain. The gameplay is divided into two key sections, interactive storytelling and turn-based combat. When first starting the demo, the game opens up with the prologue of the story, explaining how a tribe of orcs drove the previous inhabitants, a race of dwarfs away leaving behind untold treasures. The art direction for this game was focused on mimicking traditional Tabletop-RPG games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, with all character design, movement and animations based off actual tabletop miniatures. Moreover, the level design had a very dwarven atmosphere, with well-craved stone paths and walls and various statues throughout the level.

Once gaining control over my character/figurine the game continued to tell the story through a series of pop-out as you adventure through the mountains, sometimes providing illustrations generally found in hardback novel, highlighting the game’s origins. As the game focuses on interactive storytelling, I was presented with various options while exploring the mountain, giving a different playthrough based on my play style or situation. For example, early on into the demo I was presented with an option, either turning left and sneaking past a sleeping guard, or adventuring right and continuing exploring the mountain. Being adventurous, I chose to sneak past the guard, initiating a combat sequence which I was task to avoid the guard’s line of sight.

The combat system in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is quite unique compared to other turn-based games. Instead of having your character and enemies taking turns to move or attack in a set order, similar to Dungeons and Dungeons or other traditional turn-based games, your character and enemies will move and attack simultaneously. This allow players an opportunity to avoid any direct damage or predict the enemies’ movement to catch them off guard. While trying the combat in-game, any character movement occurred before the attack phase, making movement predication important to avoid long and drawn out battles,  which can inadvertently cause other enemies to appear causing more issues. One problem I had with the combat system was that there were no friendly fire mechanic as enemies could attack through each other without losing health making the game more challenging.

Talking to Neil about his future plans for the game, he suggested that the game will further expand the original story based on the hero selected. One example he had in mind was introducing a dwarven character forcing on reclaiming his home. Although one hero was playable at PAX Australia, Neil and his team were intending to have at least ten different heroes by launch, which can be unlocked through various playthrough of the game.

I would recommend the game for anyone who enjoys interactive storytelling or fans of Dungeons and Dragons or the Fighting Fantasy series. The game is currently in pre-alpha and is currently being funded through Kickstarter.

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