A trip to the Othercide
Othercide first caught my attention while I was perusing Steam, looking for games that I would enjoy on my PC. I have always struggled with the idea of gaming on a PC outside of strategy or MMO style games, and as such I have tended to stay away from FPS games or games that fall outside of those types of categories. I’ve enjoyed Warcraft, Command and Conquer and even the X-COM games and this is what led to my discovery of Othercide.
Othercide is a turn based strategy game that echoes games such as X-COM or Mario v Rabbids if you prefer. The art style mimics a combination of H.R. Giger’s black and white amalgamations and early American adaptations of anime. My words actually don’t do the visuals for this game any justice whatsoever. It’s simply stunning. It stands primarily in B&W with bright and vibrant reds contrasting against the gothic noir setting. The Daughters also adopt blacks, reds and whites the longer they stay alive and earn characteristics unique to how the player progresses through the game. All told, the visuals of Othercide set it uniquely apart from other games in the genre and provide a perfect setting for the creepy aesthetic and setting. Wholly and totally gorgeous and I can’t rave enough about the art style in this game.
While all that I’ve previously said is important, the first thing you should really know about Othercide is that this game is hard. Flagrantly so. This is smash your face into a chain link fence while getting your back scratched with a cheese grater difficult. Each synapse, while simple in it’s outline, is generated to maximize the amount of punishment to your Daughters and with healing being incredibly difficult, even on the dream difficulty, which i selected only to progress quickly through the story in order to give a detailed review, I find myself as of this writing only on the second era. The punishment brings reward though, so it’s definitely not all bad and in fact the design of the game is such that you are actually supposed to lose. You read that correctly, you’re supposed to lose. You unlock traits, memories and story with each death and restart, the game retains how many times you do this with recollections, each one giving you precious shards you use to power up your daughters and make each playthrough a little easier. It’s a dynamic and interesting mechanic that I can’t recall being utilized in other games.
The absolute torment you suffer through the game is backed with an incredible soundtrack, providing haunting melodies and appropriately placed driving riffs when confronted with the real nightmares of Othercide. The sound effects serve as functionary transport into the atmosphere of the game with the screams of fallen daughters, a plague doctor’s scythe ripping into an enemy or the maniacal laughter of a victorious child while you endure yet another brutal death. The vocalizations are well done and help drive this extraordinary narrative journey along through each era and synapse. Just do yourself a favor and refrain from doubling the subtitle size unless your vision needs dictate its necessity. Overall the soundtrack is right on par with the visuals and perfectly matches the moods the developers were trying to create.
The gameplay and mechanics therein are relatively straightforward and Othercide provides an introduction to both the controls, mechanics and story with a fairly decent prologue that while holding the players hand, isn’t overly intrusive. There are a few things that irked me early on but I managed to pay a bit closer attention to my actions and found myself quickly progressing through movements and placing my daughters precisely where I wanted them to be. Most of the time. Believe me when I tell you, that if you make a mistake, the entire feeling of the battle will change and you’ll find that sweet feeling of a perfect synapse slipping into despair as enemies swarm your out of position daughter. It’s a rough life in Othercide but it also happens to be extremely rewarding when you finally prevail. Gameplay moves quickly and each action takes a specific amount of AP or action points that moves you further along the initiative bar. A pretty simple yet deceivingly complex system that makes each battle that much more frantic. Even the frustratingly difficult rescue missions. (Why did you do this? Looking at you devs.)
The story provides a unique look at the sufferings inflicted on others and how they impact the psyche of an innocent child. I’m not going to dive into the details, because I hate spoilers but suffice to say that, while you revel in each victory against the nightmares of the void, you learn more about the reason they exist and the possible result of human depravity. Especially in an era that was less than stellar about protecting human rights. It pulls you in and hooks you early. The portrayal of The Other and the way they manipulate the story is a great arc that bears experiencing for yourself.
In all, Othercide is a beautifully crafted masterpiece with a unique art style, wonderful soundtrack, cohesive gameplay and a difficulty that reminds me of old NES games. It is almost perfect, and in today’s market of overdone shooter clones and strategy one-offs, Othercide towers over the competition. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to the Void. The 2nd era is calling me.
9.25 out of 10