Umbra is an upcoming next-gen hack n’ slash title from indie developers SolarFall Games. Their first project as a team of like minded games industry professionals, Umbra is inspired by Diablo II and aims to offer plays a rich RPG action adventure with huge levels of personalisation, customisation, open gameplay and excitement. The game is currently pre-alpha, and is just under two weeks away from completing its successful Kickstarter campaign. I was invited to take a look at just a small piece of what Umbra was all about ahead of any initial builds being completed, and I was happy to accept the offer!
Umbra works on the basis that you control your unique adventurer in one core world, and can pick up missions from NPCs which take place in randomly generated levels. The main world is luscious to observe, with stunning graphical detail which causes you to take a few seconds before you play just to take in everything around you. Umbra combines the use of the extensive CryEngine development tool alongside early access to the Quixel Megascans technology, which allows real-life objects to be projected into the graphical build of the game. As a result, everything looks incredibly detailed, polished and generally stunning to the eye.
Your adventurer has a variety of skills and an inventory of weapons, armour, potions and tomes to aid their quest, among other items which you may find along the way. The game allows you to combine classic swordplay and the art of weaponry with magical powers in order to offer you an all-rounder for a hero, rather than being confined to a single, closed off class. What’s more, you will be able to customise your hero and their weapons as you please when the game is released, offering you a genuine chance to play as you want.
For the purposes of my experience with the game, I was given a prebuilt hero with a set of armour and a couple of weapons to choose from. Each item had its own statistics and bonuses, as well as an overall rating, and it was easy to compare them with each other, as well as with looted items which I picked up on my travels. I also had four different spells to play with, each of which provided me with a very unique ability to play with. From fireballs, to tossing an enemy, to freezing all of those around me, I was able to combine my spells and talents with a sword to produce an easy, flowing and effective fighting force out of my character’s arsenal.
Combat in the game is simple to get to grips with, which is a very good thing, but it is by no means easy or overly samey. Different enemies will be more resilient to your abilities than others, and you will have to learn how best to despatch each opponent you come across. Sure, there is plenty enough cannon fodder for the game to be an effective hack n’ slash experience, but it also requires a level of attention to be paid as well. You quickly learn which skills you value most as each one levels up individually, making your most frequently used abilities your strongest ones too. This helps you to compliment your own gameplay style by being able to upgrade what you need without having to work around barriers or other useless skill you do not want.
The level which I played through in Umbra was remarkably well constructed considering it was randomly generated. Things did not look at all out of place, and if you did not know better you would believe the dungeon which I found myself fighting through had been purpose built rather than created by a computer as I sat and waited. My mission was to claim a bounty in this dungeon, which of course lay on the head of an enemy towards the end of it. As I fought my way through, I had plenty of chance to try out different skills, appreciate the environment around me, and generally just enjoy the game. I felt comfortable playing, and happy with the entire experience around me, which for a single level in a pre-alpha game is a pretty impressive achievement too. Everything flowed well from start to finish, and I was never caught out by any nasty bugs or problems. It all felt very nice to play.
As a whole then, my first look at Umbra was a very positive experience indeed. I did not find anything I didn’t like about what I was seeing or what I was playing – it all felt extremely well developed for a project which as yet is in a very early stage of development. There are a number of other exciting features which I did not get to see which sound like they will be fantastic additions to the game too, such as fully customisable house building and multiplayer co-op and challenges among many others. At this very early stage then, Umbra already appears to be surpassing what anyone would likely be expecting of it. If things continue along a similar road, the final product will be well worth the investment of the backers who have helped it!
Check out the Kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1062682568/umbra/description