I always like to check out Funcom's stuff during con times. I will fully admit part of this is hoping I'll accidentally walk into a room that says the words "The Secret World 2 is coming!", but I'm an unashamed fan of that game so there's that. While I may not have found that, I did find a pair of games that I enjoyed my time playing. One is the newly announced silly roguelite Conan Chop Chop, while the other is sci-fi horror game (that takes place in The Secret World's universe, so small win!) Moons of Madness.
Conan Chop ChopAnnounced at the PC Gaming Show, the first game I got to demo at Funcom was Conan Chop Chop. Developed by Mighty Kingdom, this is a goofy Roguelite that sort of takes place in the Conan universe. Vaguely, anyway. Using a goofy art style that looks like it was taken right out of a Cyanide & Happiness comic, it's certainly distinct. However, is it actually fun to play?
The basic idea of Conan Chop Chop is similar to many roguelites. You'll run through randomly generated dungeons and kill monsters for gold until you're killed by said monsters. I played through one of the first areas co-op with a second player, though the game does support up to four.
Naturally, I decided I needed the full Conan experience and played as the big man himself. At the start all I had was a sad dagger, some arrows, and chunks of meat to eat. As we played I earned gold that I could spend on better weapons, eventually netting myself a nice spear, club, and sword. I could also buy modifiers for these weapons which lit my enemies on fire or poisoned them. There's also passive boosts, like the ability to run really fast. Of course, while you can buy all these nice items, dying means you'll lose them all. So you have to be careful for that.
Combat is rather simple, and can best be compared to a beat 'em up such as Castle Crashers. All you have is a button to swing your weapon, and another that lets you use items such as bombs or a bow. While this may be simple, I still had a lot of fun timing strikes to make sure I was knocking enemies away. Soon me and my partner developed a strategy: they would draw enemies close and begin to block, while I would smack them over his shoulder. It was effective, and helped make short work of slimes, zombies, and werewolves.
The goal of the demo was to find and defeat the boss, which is simple enough. Levels are randomly generated, so naturally some exploration had to be done. Or you can do what I do and just buy a map. What can I say, I picture Conan as a practical man. No matter your choice, eventually you will be led to a giant monkey that serves as Conan Chop Chop's first boss fight. As the boss takes damage he gets more enraged, using more rage filled attacks that smashed more of the screen. It was cool to watch, and made for a neat final challenge. Or it should have, had he not gotten stuck on an object in the middle of the map and died to some easy arrow sniping. There's still some work to be done on the AI here.
Still, I ultimately had a fun time with Conan Chop Chop. Smacking enemies around as the big warrior is always fun, and there's a neat little cartoon vibe that the game has going. It may not be perfect, but roguelite fans should find something worth seeing here.
Conan Chop Chop will be available on September 3rd for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Moons of MadnessWhile Conan Chop Chop may be all fun and games, Moons of Madness is anything but. Instead this is a sci-fi horror game, which sees a team of astronauts hunted by mysterious and terrifying monsters on the planet of Mars.
The demo already opened up with everything going horribly wrong. The station was infected with some weird substance, and there were noises that seemed to imply something horrible was happening to people in other parts of the station. As I advanced I could find objects that would go in my inventory, and I could use them to help further move through the station. For example, at one point I needed to pry open a door, so grabbing a crowbar was a good chance to do that.
In the distance I always saw what appeared to be a woman, though what exactly she was doing is a bit beyond me. I never got close enough to interact with her, at least not until the end of the section. I found her sitting in a chair, approached, and she did what all good monsters do: turned around and screamed. Suddenly I was back in the bedroom. Turns out everything was a reoccurring nightmare that the main character has been having. Thus starts the next chunk of the demo: something a little closer to realistic space work.
Here I got to see more of Moons of Madness' adventure game elements. To start, I needed to access a computer. To do so I had to find a password, and I was able to find it by exploring the environment and finding it stuck to the back of a picture frame. Later I had to run some tests on myself, including finding a bio monitor to keep track of my character's health and running on treadmills to work out. The entire time I got to take in the excellent atmosphere of Moons of Madness, which goes out of its way to really sell you that you're on a space station on Mars. Some great voice acting and audio work also contribute to this.
As the demo continued, things kept getting weird. Strange noises would echo in the distance, power would flicker, and the greenhouse that I had to take a trip to looked like it was just hit by a bomb. As I kept working my way through the environment, going around security doors and reconnecting wires to get power working, things just kept feeling off and I began to wonder if I had lapsed into another dream. Finally I got the power working again, only for a disgusting monster to crawl out of the shadows, ending my demo. What was this thing? It seems like I'll have to wait for the full game to find out, and I can say I'm waiting with some interest.
Moons of Madness will be available on October 31st for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Disclaimer: Two friends of mine worked for Funcom from early 2012 until early 2013. Both worked as GMs on Age of Conan: Unchained and The Secret World. Neither currently work for Funcom or have any ties to Funcom, neither have worked on any of the games mentioned here (besides The Secret World), and neither have influenced this preview in any way.
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