SKARA: The Blade Remains Preview

SKARA: The Blade Remains is attempting to bring the idea behind typical fighting games, to a multiplayer arena.

Based on the Unreal 4 engine, SKARA: The Blade Remains is a new take on the fighting game genre. Typically, fighting games would include a one on one, side facing deathmatch between two players. Versus fighting games tend to rely on combos, timing and quick reflexes to master them, and they generally will be in a 2D style format, or in a small 3D area.

SKARA wants to move away from a few of these conventions, to almost evolve the genre. In actual fact, the developers, 8Bit-Studio, named their newly conceived genre a MOV, A Multiplayer Online Versus.
Taking the competitive aspects of fighting games, SKARA: The Blade Remains, takes a few of the core concepts, and stretches them out across a 16 player battle ground. Combat takes place in a medium sized 3D arena that allows for multi-directional movement and dodging. This also brings the possibility for your intense fight with another person to be interrupted, something that doesn’t necessarily happen in most versus games. Another unusual addition to the usual versus formula, is the ranged attack. While fighter games have had Hadoukens and Fireballs for years, none have allowed you to aim freely these attacks. Then again, none of those games have been in an openly explorable arena. Another addition set to feature in the future, is team attacks, which will allow teams to combine attacks together, to help secure a victory.

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Unfortunately on the occasions I played SKARA: The Blade Remains, I was totally unable to try out its online features. Whether this is due to them not being implemented, or there just not being any active servers at the times I played, nobody joined any of the lobbies I created. Luckily there are bot functions, and adding in a couple of Durno and another two Kharn, (two of the races available in SKARA) I went at them with my sword. I used a controller to play, as it has a 3rd person interface, and I feel analogue sticks offer the best freedom when it comes to moving the camera around your character at the same time as moving the avatar itself.

The combat felt a bit sluggish at first, and I wasn’t quite sure what I was meant to be doing, but once I found all the controls I managed to run around and kill a few bots. Once I had damaged these enemies enough, I hit them a final time which activated an almost Mortal Kombat style finisher. This felt very satisfying but after doing it a few times, the animation got a little tedious, though I’m sure that other moves will be implemented with time. With only a few attacks actually available currently, it is fair to say that SKARA: The Blade Remains is pretty much just a skeleton at this stage. The game needs a bit more flesh before it will be able to hold itself upright, but the things they have done right, they have done really right.

SKARA’s strongest point is the graphics. It truly is beautiful, with stunning lighting, high detailed textures, and character designs that seem well thought out, and that match the backstory of each race. Running on the Unreal 4 Engine allows the devs at 8Bit-Studio to really show off their artistic skills. The concept of SKARA is also really strong, and the new ideas they are implementing into the arena combat genre, could make the MOV genre blossom into something great. That is, if they manage to lead the way with SKARA.

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With a free to play Business model, SKARA: The Blade Remains promises not to fall into the “pay to win” category, but instead to focus on the skill of the player. A quote from their site states “A talented beginner who has invested nothing in their character can kill a veteran who has.” This is an essential decision for any free to play developers these days, as too many other games have fallen due to their pay to win structures. This also means that paying for items in game will probably consist of customisation options, not only to your avatars appearance, but to your fighting style.

SKARA: The Blade Remains, is an incredibly promising looking game, and it certainly deserves recognition for its innovative ideas, and the fact that it was funded on Kickstarter shows that there is a player base out there. All it needs now is more content, a bit of fine-tuning and a splash of polish, and we will have an interesting new style of game on our hands.

For more information on SKARA: The Blade Remains, be sure to visit their site.

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