Posted on August 20, 2013, James Murff Indie Gems: Hammerwatch Bashes Apart Hordes
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.
It seems only fitting that the best Gauntlet in recent memory is an indie game.
Hammerwatch is a top-down, co-op dungeon crawler inspired by Atari’s arcade classic. Much like Gauntlet, you are tasked with moving through levels, slaughtering monsters and monster spawners as you move to the next area. Unlike Gauntlet, however, Hammerwatch includes modern design elements such as upgrades, secrets, and bosses. It may have a nice retro style, but it learns from its predecessor’s mistakes.
You are given the choice of four heroes in Hammerwatch: Paladin, Wizard, Ranger and Warlock. Each hero has their own special attributes — the Paladin can block things with his shield, for example, while the Wizard’s projectiles deal area damage — and abilities. As you progress through the storyline, you meet vendors who can upgrade you with various bonuses to your attributes. Some — like more armor or more health — are common to all classes, but others — like the Wizard’s ability to set enemies on fire — are unique. You can also find or purchase potions with different effects, such as healing, invulnerability, or greater attack damage.
The main campaign is four acts long, with each act composed of three interconnected levels. You must trigger buttons and solve puzzles — albeit simple ones — in order to progress to that act’s boss. You have a limited number of lives, but there is no permadeath; if you die, you can simply resume from a save, although you will still have the amount of lives from the save you loaded. Be careful! The campaign is fully co-op with up to four local players. Unfortunately, Hammerwatch is currently a local-only multiplayer title.
While there is no way to distribute the levels you make (besides direct links) or dynamic level generation in the game yet, the developers have pledged full post-release support, with new content to arrive soon. If you’ve beaten the main campaign a few times and want to try something different while you wait, though, Hammerwatch comes with a “hero defense” (like tower defense, but with heroes instead) level, which can be found under “custom” when starting up a game. Be warned, though: Playing this level alone is almost impossible! Get some friends over before you try it, and enjoy some simple monster-slaying co-op.