To the dungeon, and quickly!

Looking at Get Set Games existing catalog, it’s not hard to see the “Three C” approach at work. With past efforts like Mega Jump and Mega Run under their belts, you can’t deny that “cute, cuddly and casual” are the adjectives that seem to work best. Their next project, though, goes in the direction of a very different C: challenging.

Last week, Gamezebo was invited to Get Set Games studio in Toronto to go hands-on with Battle Casters, their upcoming dual-stick dungeon crawlfor mobile devices. While the gameplay still remains pick-up-and-play friendly, there’s a level of ferocity in the game design that their existing fans might be surprised by. It’s an action-packed experience that puts players on a timer with an incredibly short fuse.

Battle Casters

The object of the game is to proceed through different floors of a dungeon within a set time limit. If you complete a floor you’ll get a time bonus and a quick trip to the next floor. If you don’t, you’ll be right back at square one.

The challenge comes from finding a perfect balance between speed and slaughter. Your first inclination (and, arguably, smartest) will be to find the fastest path through each level so that you can continue on your journey. But if you do that, you’ll be missing out on a few of the game’s more essential elements. For one, laying waste to a dungeon’s denizens will grant you treasure, power-ups and more. For another, a little exploration can lead to secret rooms that have special treasures – the kind you can trade in for cards.

Battle Casters

“Cards?” the reader cried aloud, unable to contain their confusion. “I thought this was an action game!”

It is, I promise. The cards are something you can focus on between battles, and while there’s plenty of fusing and collecting to be had, you have my word – this isn’t a card battle game.

Instead, the cards are used to provide you bonuses on every dungeon run. One card might increase the likelihood that you’ll find a certain weapon, while another might make treasure more plentiful. Fusing these cards makes them each more powerful, and that’s good, because their effects should help keep the experience fresh and unique on every play.

Battle Casters

During my hands-on time with the early build I was given access to only one character – Rufus the Spellmaster – though the team at Get Set assures me there will be three available at launch, each with slightly different skillsets. Regardless of which class you play as, you’ll be able to spend your earned treasure in between rounds on improving your attack strength and time limit – a fact that reflects the dual-sided nature of Battle Casters challenge.

And, of course, you’ll be able to buy card packs too.

Compounding the challenge of the game are some surprisingly devious environments to navigate. At first this is something the team only hinted at during our visit, but then we stumbled into a room that was full of pulsating spike traps – FULL OF PULSATING SPIKE TRAPS – that had to be navigated while still being wary of the timer. And yes, as we learned, it was entirely possible to explore this room in multiple directions before safely finding the exit, which hindered our clock-watching even more.

Battle Casters

Whether or not crazy moments like this make it into the final build is still up in the air. What we saw during our experience was very much a pre-release product, and as such, much of what’s expected in the final version – boss battles, multiple classes, an XP system, a narrative – weren’t in place quite yet. That said, the game’s production is moving ahead at full steam. We were told that the build we played was considerably further along than what they showed off at GDC just a few weeks ago, and that the developers are hoping to have a launch-worthy product ready for the App Store before the end of May.

If what we played last week is any indication, you’ll want to mark this one on your calendars.