Posted on September 11, 2013, James Murff Indie Gems: Forced Collaborates In The Arena
Indie Gems is an ongoing feature in which we highlight indie games that are worth your time and attention. Think of this as your weekly Indie Game Playlist.
Forced is the game Atari would make if it tried to make Gauntlet today.
This isn’t to say that titles like Hammerwatch didn’t improve upon Gauntlet’s formula. However, if there was one thing the old Atari game designers loved, it was creating intricate levels and forcing players to solve puzzles under a time limit. Puzzles such as, “How do I get to that spawner without being murdered by all the enemies?” Forced takes this focus on good timing, smartly-built puzzle arenas, and the wanton slaughter of monsters to new heights, and as a result is a thoroughly engaging cooperative title, even though it’s still in beta.
Developer: Beta Dwarf Entertainment
Forced puts you in the shoes of a naked gladiator dropped into an arena where you must clear various trials. Most of these trials involve plenty of gore. Assisting you along the way is a spirit mentor — a bluish-white wisp that gives you advice and floats around — and any other gladiators that happen to join your struggle. Once you are prepared to deal with the various challenges set before you, you pick one of four classes — red, green, yellow, or blue — and set out to earn gems through the completion of potentially fatal tasks.
Where Forced sets itself apart is twofold. First, the class and combat system are intertwined expertly. Each class attacks in a unique way, and has various abilities that suit their particular playstyle. For example, the yellow class is an archer that specializes in long-distance area damage and careful aim, while the green class is a fast-attacking rogue that focuses on applying marks for the team’s use. These marks are the crux of the combat system, as they improve the potency of abilities. Put the maximum amount on enemies (five) through basic attacks, and abilities used on them become exceedingly powerful, assuming the ability “consumes” the marks, that is. There are a number of passives which change how marks behave as well, such as allowing penetration through marked targets or increasing damage per mark on the target.
Second, each arena is a combination of puzzle, time trial, and enemy gauntlet. Objectives range from destroying enemy spawners, to killing different special enemies, to simply reaching a particular location in time. There are obvious complications to the process though, such as lasers, poisonous mist, or swarms of enemies. All puzzles are solved through some use of the spirit mentor, which can be called to different party members in order to trigger switches or enable buffs.
These two elements combined — intricate combat and replayable challenges — combine to make Forced one of the best co-op games around. Get three of your friends, sit around the TV, and take on the puzzles and enemies of the arena. You won’t regret it.
Forced is currently available in beta through the developer’s website.