Umbra – Pre- Alpha Preview

UmbraKSCover-1080p review

I started spotting word of this game over Twitter, a few re-tweets here and there. What was being touted was a Kickstarter project using Cryengine, next-gen graphics and what looked like a whole bunch of fun on the intro video.

They were not wrong.

The build I have been given to test is very early, super early in fact. But from what I played, I loved. Umbra is a hack ‘n’ slash extravaganza. Also did I mention that it is stunning? The Cryengine does just that, makes you want to weep with joy. Watch the video, crank that bitch right up and rejoice as your eyeballs melt out of your face.

Incredible eye candy aside the game plays exceptionally well for a demo that takes up about as much room on your HDD as a well detailed photograph. I’ve played it through a few times, I’m still finding new ways to combine my skills and spells.

Let’s explore the mechanics – you have quite a choice of skills and spells, and you can assign these to either mouse button, and a small pool of additional spells on your number keys – or in my case assigned to my thumb keys on my shiny new mouse. There appears to be space for using a controller as well. Plugging in an Xbox controller led to all sorts of fantastic oddness, but the tech is there to be built on.

There is no fixed progression, you have a mana, rage and stamina pool to draw upon, each combining in their own ways to allow blocking, sword sweeps and fiery death to be visited on the shuffling hordes. Boss characters make an appearance like Diablo – Colours dictating what to expect from the enemy type and what abilities they possess.

Umbra_screenshot_04 review

Spells combine most satisfactorily, much like Diablo, you can build an arsenal of attacks that mean you barely get touched by enemies as they come at you in waves. My favourite being an area attack that flash freezes everyone around you. Allowing you to lay tremendous amount of beat down with your weapon of choice, or as I did, a great big fireball.

The last time I checked, this game has reached its kickstarter target and is well on the way to completing its next stretch targets.

The sheer amount of stuff happening on screen at any one time is staggering. Light interacts with motes of dust, leaves fall from trees, clothing ripples, enemies and not to forget the burly SoB Crusader chap with the *Insert Weapon Here* and shield looking like a Juggernaut. Bodies stay splatted , body parts strewn all over as you lay waste. Bits of scenery have a habit of exploding as well when you start throwing your sword and spells around. It’s truly a feast for the eyes.

Noteworthy Differences :

You get a house, or at least a housing area is promised. The idea of being able to maintain your own little slice of umbra and personalise it at will has a big draw factor form me.

There exists a spell ability called an Apocalyptic Form. This allows the hero to transform into an all singing, all dancing walking nuke which different forms convey different stat boosts and abilities. Sounds exciting, and i can’t wait to see where they take it.

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Wants :

This game is pretty much amazing but there are a few things I would love to see.

  • Spell growth – I get that the more times I use a spell the better (read stronger/more damaging) it becomes. I would love to see alternate spell choices fixed or otherwise. Spell branching into different effects and sprites.
  • A female character, this is a stretch target I know, but it seems a very large stretch.
  • The ability to change my UI how I want it
  • A haunting soundtrack
  • Companions
  • Multiplayer

Try to avoids :

  • Repetition of levels. I love the idea of procedurally generated maps. This will increase replay value massively
  • Diablo and its play it harder – get better rewards. not everyone wants to play the same thing over and over.

 

All in all I can’t wait to see the finished product, Hell, the beta in fact, as this demo is absolutely stunning. If you haven’t backed it or are just curious as to it’s current state you can find them on Kickstarter HERE