I’m really kind of intrigued by Extinction. The upcoming game by Iron Galaxy places the company’s combat pedigree at its core, learning from games they’ve worked on like the modern Killer Instinct. They know how to make a battle feel fluid and responsive, exciting and worthwhile. The game, although a great departure from the 2D fighter, manages to continue that legacy, albeit with a considerably greater scale.
We were treated to a pre-Alpha walkthrough demo of the game recently at E3, focusing on the combat depicted in the cinematic trailer. The stars Avil, a sentinel charged with evacuating the denizens of cities. Action-heavy, it features the giant ogres ransacking a town as Avil takes them down. It carries a mix of 3D Zelda games (combat), Ninja Gaiden (traversal and movement) and Shadow of the Colossus (scale), with a little bit of a fighter thrown in.
There are three major aspects to the game’s flow: rescue, protect and defeat. The demo begins with Avil traversing through the town on his way to escort citizens into a rescue portal. With the monsters invading the area, he needs to grab and move as many as possible to safety. Villagers are located all over the place, and getting to them quickly means running and jumping, climbing and sprinting. The layout of the towns isn’t so much about width as it is about height, so the game lets us make our way by running up walls, bouncing around on awnings, or even using our whip as a grapple (which comes in handy later). Each of the levels will have a variety of hazards, and the design will be different enough that they hopefully won’t feel stale.
Once we’ve rescued the humans, we need to protect towers around town from destruction. The towers are sort of like beacons to the beasts, as all manner of monster — the game also includes “minions,” smaller enemies that try to slow us down — try to prevent us from saving them. Once all the towers are gone, the giants win. And, with ogres spawning around the environment and making their way to the towers, the separate battles-within-a-battle become important. It’s like tower defense, but a grander (and more literal) scale.
The giants are massive. As a sentinel, Avil has the unique ability to chop off limbs, which is the only way to slow down an ogre. The only way to actually beat one is to decapitate it, as they can regrow the limbs after a set of time. Using skill-based combat (complete with combos) Avil must make his way to the top of the beast, but that has challenges in and of itself. The titans wear armor, like shinguards, that must be destroyed before they can be relieved of their leg or arm. Whether it’s made of wood or gold, each armor type has different requirements and toughness for removal. Wooden armor might be easy to destroy, whereas gold armor needs four hits to bring down. Avil’s grappling skills become useful here, as he can work his way up the body of the beast to the head, fighting off flying minions on his shoulders and neck.
After a lengthy battle, Avil ultimately knocks off the monster’s helmet and chops off the head, only to realize that more ogres are spawning in the background.
The mini battles can be short or lengthy, easy or difficult, all depending on how the game randomizes the ogres and our unlocked skills. In a full campaign, it’d be interesting to see the variety of battles and if they stay fresh or become tedious. The same goes with daily challenges and star ratings on each level, and if there’s enough there to keep us playing. The demo itself is at least enough to whet an appetite for a ground floor tower defense game, especially one where size really is everything.
Extinction is targeting 2018 for its release window.