Othercide disturbingly blurs the line between escapism and fearful mortal human emotion. It’s also down-right horrifying.
Set in a nightmarish dreamscape, its bold choice of gothic noir artwork creates a perpetually terrifying and strikingly mysterious mood. Within the ethereal world of Othercide, you become the last bastion of hope in saving humanity from a demonic overlord known as “The Suffering”. This ruthless horror is on his way to enslave and errode humanity via the dreamworld. To complicate matters further, he has enlisted a gruesome menagerie of Lovecraftian terrors to help him ensure the veil of suffering holds strong until his ultimate manifestation. Within this dimension, it is up to you to shatter this void and end his incantation.
Othercide challenges you to take control of three brave daughters birthed from the world’s greatest warrior, known as Mother. Her daughters are dark and distant echoes of what she used to be. Each daughter embodies distinct traits of her mother’s past abilities, and will grow her unique talents in truly awesome and deadly ways as the game progresses.
Othercide’s monochromatic look brings this game to the forefront as it visually enthrals the eye. The entire game skillfully uses black and white to capture that nightmarish look and feel to create an effect that makes you believe you are fighting demons in a continual dream state. Splashes of red highlight character costumes and bursts of blood here and there, but for the most part the binary colour theme really fits the thematic motif of this game. Set pieces, landmarks, characters, enemies all masterfully blend into each other that create an effective haze, similar to one’s own dreams. Enemy character design is top-notch. The Eldritch-looking creatures you’ll encounter come modeled with amazing spine chilling detail that may leave you cringing. There is an upsetting play on dismemberment, decay and death. The game plays with ideas of torture and devourment across the bleak map layouts that come together to make you feel like you are up against your worst nightmares.
Othercide is a solid turn-based action game. Its mechanics and play style will immediately appeal to fans of classic TBS games like Xcom, Into The Breech, and Invisible Inc. For the most part, the classic chess-like turn-style (my turn, enemy’s turn) element of TBS exists in Othercide. However, the game improves this system by centering the gameplay around a unique, dynamic timeline system. This timeline exists as a bar along the bottom of your screen and visually plots the sequential turn order of everyone on the map. This helps you understand the order of attack between your daughters and the onslaught of enemy terrors. After your daughter takes an attack she moves to the back of the line (on this timeline), and enemies move up. Similarly, your enemies abide by this construct as well. As characters are defeated they are dropped from the timeline, and the order of attack changes accordingly. As you progress through the game your daughters unlock abilities that allow the opportunity to delay enemies from progressing up the timeline, or to speed up their own initiative so as to move up the timeline faster. This allows daughters to skip in front of enemy turns, preempting attacks from enemies. Given the dark mood of the game, this is truly where Othercide begins to shine. As you begin to master this timeline system, you can begin to formulate strategies based on your ability to control or disrupt the enemy’s strike order.
Othercide also takes advantage of a few core RPG elements well. From the onset, each of your daughters can be aligned to one of three unique classes: the swordsmith, the shieldbearer and the soulslinger. The swordsmith is your typical hack and slash character. She yields a double handed sword and brings an array of dangerous melee attacks to the fight. The shieldbearer offers a serious defense loadout that comes in the form of movement and tactical abilities that provide additional cover to her sisters on the battlefield. Finally, the soulslinger is your all around support class unit. She provides a deadly ranged attack assault by way of her high powered revolvers, and can also provide valuable power-ups to her sisters in later stages of her evolution. To continue, your daughters can also grow within each of these classes. This is where your warrior daughters can pick up different traits depending on their performance on the battlefield. Laying waste to enough of a certain enemy will allow them to learn specialized traits that can buff them for the next battle. This adds another layer of strategy as you choose how to evolve your daughters’ deadly skill sets in preparation for the ultimate boss battle at the end of the level.
While your daughters are powerful, the odds will always be stacked against them. You will always be outnumbered in each encounter, often having to contend with 9 to 12 deadly demons looking to dismember your daughters and devour their souls. If it wasn’t difficult, this game wouldn’t feel like a playable night terror! While you will have access to many daughters over the course of each chapter, the game allows you to only take three into battle at once. Not to worry however, these girls know how to fight – cleverly. Your daughters have tactical moves that can help to shred the forces of Suffering down in no time, you just have to think ahead. Aside from straight forward assault attacks, each of your daughters have conditional attacks that can be delayed until certain criteria are met, or until a certain scenario manifests itself. Sound confusing? It’s not. To explain, if a daughter takes a move, and satisfies another daughter’s conditional attack, she will also take her attack immediately after her sister. Think of this as a two-for-one deal where you are able to take two consecutive (reactionary) attacks in one turn. You can even stack these delayed attacks so that all three daughters can attack in one turn – effectively stringing together deadly, yet intriguing combinations. Learning how to lure enemies into controlled predicaments and setting up scenarios where you can unleash devastating coordinated attacks amongst all three sisters in one turn really becomes the key in winning the nightmare.
To add to this perpetual fever dream, this game does not allow you to heal. Elixir potions or revival spells are not to be found anywhere. Let that sink in. After a few grueling missions your daughters will likely return from battle battered and badly wounded. Drained daughters who are fortunate enough to survive taxing battles will carry their wounds into the next battle, unless they are regenerated. Sadly, the only way to regenerate in the world of Othercide is to sacrifice one of your healthier daughters in order to heal another. Ultimately, the daughter who is sacrificed is laid to rest, but the surviving daughter becomes a hybrid of her sister inheriting a small piece of her stats.
This sub-mechanic of the game levies an excruciating psychological pressure as you are forced to make some rather serious decisions regarding your troupe of daughters – who you’ve invested effort in growing and evolving. This will often not be an easy decision to make as you will find that your daughters all have tremendously unique skills. Sacrificing means that her benefits will no longer be an option in the upcoming missions, thus forcing you to tighten up, or even modify your overall battle plan. Not to fret though, daughters who end up in the cemetery can be revived by completing rescue missions when they appear on your road map. After a successful rescue mission, you are awarded a resurrection token that can be used to bring back a fallen or sacrificed sister. Be careful to use these tokens sparingly as they are not easy to come-by and are considered a rare resource in the game.
Othercide will have you feverishly sweating through five hellish chapters where, at the end of each, you’ll be confronted by an upsetting boss encounter. Boss flights are actually puzzles disguised as a fight. Once you lock tentacles, you must first decipher the leader’s attack pattern and weakness before you can start laying down some serious damage. Be forewarned, these are expert level encounters. You will fail, until you establish an effective coordinated effort from each of your daughters. In other words, brute force and violence will not prevail. Fortunately, you do have options to methodically plan your moves depending on what type of strategy player you are. The Othercide battle engine offers a fair amount of in-game statistical data that you can distill down to help plan each of your subsequent attacks. Your heads up display highlights chance percentages and critical-hit values that you can methodically incorporate as you progress through the battle. Move limits, and point expenditure gauges are all there for you to soak in and ponder for each turn.
While the game is short in terms of chapters, the rogue-like scenarios each mission presents may take hours to perfect and multiple attempts to fully master. The game’s developer, Lightbulb Crew, has effectively remixed the traditional turn-based strategy game, and has truly thought about how to layer significant dimensions of pressure over-top an already strategically demanding game. Othercide is a delicate dance between your daughters and the nightmarish horror creatures of the Suffering. With a simple but effective colour palette, this game really casts you into a world of chilling, dark and horrifying dimensions. Othercide is challenging and offers a manageable degree of difficulty that oddly makes it horrifyingly addictive. Any fan of the TBS genre will gladly welcome the new conceptual twists the game has to offer, and will keep strategy players entertained and sleepless for quite some time.