Replayability and skill have been something of an important talking point in the gaming community. As a result, the roguelike and rogue-lite genres have really come into their own. Both offering different takes on ever-changing and constantly engaging mechanics, the typically esoteric and difficult games have quickly won a lot of people over. Regardless of where you fall in the debate, using these ideas to create a nice experience has also lead to a lot of success, with titles like Darkest Dungeon doing extremely well. Following a similar path if Othercide, a weird and interesting take on the tactical RPG genre with roguelike elements. Boasting sacrifice, horrors, and difficulty, is it hard to put down or just hard to pick up?
Othercide does a good job of hooking players almost immediately. You play as a woman, simply known as Mother, who ultimately loses to a creature known as The Child, who seemingly wants to punish her for some unknown reason. Her failure is not an end, but the beginning of a series of attacks, led by her daughters, to overcome this dark threat. After the rather brief introduction, most of the story is told through random progress, unlocked through a wide variety of tasks, that starts to paint a picture of how this situation came to be. Unfortunately, it won’t win over fans of the story, though it is certainly engaging enough to see the value, worth it to give these seemingly grotesque creatures some context. That is, assuming your tactics are good enough to overcome them.
Having played a good number of turn-based tactical RPGs, Othercide does a good job of being fun and engaging, without losing sight of the difficulty. This is important, given the core mechanics are fairly simple.
Most levels have a handful of enemies, with some number of additional enemies appearing before the level if clear, that you need to overcome. Every unit is given a finite amount of points, which can be used to perform a wide variety of actions. There is no limit to what you can do, provided you have the points to complete the action. What stands out about this is, you can attack multiple times or move however much your points allow in a single turn, opening the door to all kinds of tactics. Sometimes this is taking the longer path to get additional damage through backstabbing or simply attacking multiple times to kill a faraway foe. Using these tactics correctly will reward you will success and power, though every failure comes at a price.
Any damage you incur during a mission will persist until you sacrifice a daughter at the same level or higher. Naturally, this makes it more beneficial to ride the line between alive and dead for as long as possible, though a single mistake can easily result in that bringing an end to your daughter. Their sacrifice isn’t in vain though, a piece of whoever is used to sacrifice adds some kind of perk through a shard. Ultimately, you’re going to have girls you love and those who exist simply to be sacrificed for the greater good. This can get a bit tedious, though progression is designed to accommodate it.
Due to this, things take a rather basic arc. Build your army of daughters, attempt to make them as powerful as you can, decide if you can take on the boss, and, if not, repeat the cycle and bring back your best daughters while rebuilding your team. Continue until your progeny is ultimately successful and you can progress further. New locations will offer different challenges to overcome, though the right tactic is all you really need to be successful. As a result, it might not seem overly difficult if you overlook the hurdles associated with progression.
So much of Othercide hinges on how well you handle rogue-lite elements. Those able to plan accordingly will likely suffer fewer losses than reckless players, though there is always an element of luck that comes into play. For most this will be enough to drive the experience forward, ultimately to the boss or another cycle that will end with a final confrontation. It would be nice if the mechanics were deeper or there was more to the experience than punishing mechanics, though there really isn’t. Still, fans of tactical RPGs will likely find it engaging and the unique elements make it worth, if nothing else, another go, just don’t expect the most complicated experience around.
[Editor’s Note: Othercide was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]