There’s something about giant robots that awakens the child in all of us. Thinking about them would spark memories of playing in the background with our favourite actions figures and toys. From Transformers to Pacific Rim, there’s no shortage of giant-robot-related content, and it’s doubtful there ever will be. In Japan, you can’t shoot finger-rockets without hitting a handful of giant robot stories. OTA IMON Studios seeks to add to that library with their upcoming game Wolfstride, a turn-based mecha fighting game. Though only the demo is available for now, it lets us take a seat in the cockpit and tactfully throw some giant robot punches.
Why Robots And Why Fighting?
Going back to our childhood playtime, we never gave much thought as to why the robots were fighting. It usually boiled down to, “There’s a giant monster! Send in the robot!” or something along those lines. Plenty of series from Evangelion to Gurren Lagann have tried to add depth and complexity to the context for fighting robots, but simple can work just as well.
In Wolfstride, you are a member of the team with a giant robot that competes in official fights with others. You control one of the mechanics whose job is also to find work in order to keep the team afloat and the robot in shape. It’s a giant robot story with a struggling and somewhat grounded base.
The Best Parts
When working with robots, giant or otherwise, something to keep in mind is the parts you use. If you can get your hands on some quality tech, then you can take your bot to the next level. Wolfstride has found a fair number of nice parts. One of them is the visual style. The game is divided between pixel and graphic art. When not fighting, you’re meeting various pixel art characters that are distinct and varied. They’re accompanied by detailed graphic portraits that carry over to the fights. The robots are drawn on a rigging system that makes each part feel individual.
The actual combat is also an interesting take. Fights are one-on-one with fighters starting on opposite sides. Each robot takes turns to move across the field, attack, defend or strategize. Instead of having a party of different characters, you have one character with a party of different parts. Depending on which ones are active, certain techniques may or may not be available to use. This adds a tactical element as you decide whether you should just focus on the heart for a faster finish or pick off their parts for an easier fight. The fights and moves are flashy enough to feel like a page from a manga fight scene.
The Faulty Parts
Sometimes you need to scrounge for any parts you can just so that you can get your robot working. However, this isn’t always the best decision and Wolfstride knows that. It’s most evident in the combat system. While it’s definitely flashy and tactical, it’s also kind of slow and limiting. One of the biggest issues that plague both classic and modern turn-based titles is a lack of input. It’s not satisfying to take turns hitting and being hit; it also makes you feel helpless. Wolfstride fights could benefit from having a way to block or evade enemy attacks rather than just rely on having slightly higher stats.
Specifically, the “Movement Points” (MP) should be more dynamic. They’re only used to move back and forth across the field. If you land on where your opponent is, you can push them back one space with little fanfare. If MP could be used for other actions or if there were some penalty to using them, they would have more strategic value.
And The Winner Is…
Wolfstride is a turn-based mech fighting game set in a dystopian future city. It offers pleasing visuals and an interestingly challenging take on turn-based combat. It suffers from a lack of engagement and balance, but there’s still time to sort it out and add more. As far as giant robots go, it’d be a spectacle to see these ones fight.
TechRaptor previewed Wolfstride with a copy provided by the folks behind the game's release. It will be launching on Steam at a currently unannounced date.