Genocide From The Other Side

HIGH The crazy cool aesthetic of dark demonic warfare.

LOW I swear I clicked on that correctly…

WTF Standard missions are “Impossible” difficulty.

A dark world between dimensions and heroic female warriors battling monsters beyond the veil of reality. Each epic battle leads only to the next, and a defeat starts the cycle anew.

This is Othercide, or at least the premise as it’s presented. What the enemy creatures are, what their goals are, and even basic information about the player’s character and role are shrouded in a mystery that is slowly unraveled as one battles in a roguelike isometric, tactical turn-based combat against hordes of extradimensional beings.

What is clear is that the player commands “Daughters” — female warriors birthed from their “Mother” and tasked with protecting the world. Each Daughter is generated as needed by the player and can be assigned one of three classes — Blademaster, Shieldbearer, and Soulsinger.

The Blademaster is focused on damage, the Shieldbearer on defense and smaller bursts of damage, and the Soulsinger provides ranged damage and protection.

Missions use a turn-based battle system similar to something like X-Com or Into the Breach, where a timeline is shown at the bottom to declare which character or enemy will act, and in what order. Units function on action points, and the more points one spends to perform actions, the longer it will take for their next turn to come up in the timeline.

Certain actions can use delays or key off of other actions in order to chain together for devastating moves if planned well. Be warned, though — defeat from a boss means the run is over and the player has to start anew, but some buffs and options carry over between runs to make subsequent attempts more successful.

Apart from the roguelike structure of failure and restarting, another twist to this formula is that there is no way to heal Daughters except by sacrificing another Daughter of equal or greater level.

Resources to create more daughters are plentiful, so I was forced to consider Daughters more like resources than individuals — I soon started leveling them up and managing them for sacrifice. This felt both overly punishing and frustrating to me when I couldn’t level in time to fight the boss, making multiple runs essential. It also forced me to make difficult choices about who to sacrifice, which were more painful than choices presented to me in similar titles. 

Othercide‘s missions can range from extremely easy to intensely challenging, but once I adjusted to the three classes and developed some simple tactics, the missions all began to feel nearly identical and I took little satisfaction from them. While new enemy types are slowly introduced over the course of the game, the three classes develop slowly and don’t vary much, apart from some stat upgrades. The mission maps are repeated often and the overall lack of variety takes its toll.

While the gameplay may get stale too soon, Othercide‘s aesthetics make it a beautiful experience. I’m a sucker for a good art style or theme, and both are here in spades. Beautiful textures and a Sin City-esque black and white palette with red highlights ooze style.

Othercide‘s controls on PC were easy enough to pick up with everything onscreen marked with the keys (or mouse) to click. However, I did have problems when I would click things during battles — the game often seemed unresponsive, and at other times I would inexplicably lack the option for moves or attacks when I should have been able to perform them.

Another issue is that the difficulty rating of missions are confusing. They’re labeled from “Hard” to “Impossible”, but I found these tags utterly unhelpful. I often went on “Impossible” sorties and found them easy, and often ended up losing daughters on missions marked “Hard”.

I was drawn to Othercide not only because I’m a fan of turn-based tactical combat and compelling aesthetics, but because of its mysterious premise. That said, the repetitive gameplay and lack of variety made me eventually lose interest. The themes of death, struggle, and rebirth are interesting, but they weren’t enough to override the repetition and and unconventional design choices.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Lightbulb Crew and published by Focus Home Interactive and LBC Games. It is currently available on PS4, Switch, XBO and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: This game is rated M by the ESRB for Violence, Blood, Partial Nudity and Suggestive Themes. This game offers depictions of demons and violence, the overall tone is quite dark and nihilistic and it may be frightening to younger ones. Keep ’em away!

Colorblind Modes: There are colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There are subtitles on screen for voice lines which can be modified to be even more legible in settings. Deaf or hard of hearing players will not miss any audio cues in the course of gameplay as all actions have accompanying voice lines with subtitles and visual indicators for actions.

Remappable Controls: Yes the controls are remappable and the game offers controller support in addition to mouse/keyboard.

Nikki Waln
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