Video games are a bloody weird medium at times. Human beings have been trying to entertain ourselves since we crawled out of the ooze from whence we came, yet nothing we’ve ever come up with has the raw potential of video games. To prove this, all you have to do is look at games like Garry’s Mod or Dota. What other medium could have entirely new properties created from modified versions of already existing products? (The first smart-arse to point out film fan edits gets a punch up the bracket). Back in the olden days when Warcraft 3 was still being played by a lot of normal people and not just the people who subsist by sticking to Blizz/Activision’s belly like a limpet, you could find a ton of different custom maps for the game. This is where we get the massively popular Dota from for the 3 of you that didn’t know, and as it turns out, it is also the spawning ground for Spellsworn, a game about trying to viciously murder several other wizards in magical combat.
Spellsworn is the first game from indie game developers, Frogsong Studios, a free-to-play online combat game based around an old Warcraft 3 mod called Warlock. The point of the game is to buy several different spells for your character, mapping them to QWERASDF, and using them to reduce your enemies’ health to zero. You do battle on a tiny island in a sea of lava, poison or the screaming souls of the damned (natch), and as the battle goes on, the island slowly shrinks down until you have to do battle on a tiny rock in the middle of an ocean of pain and suffering. At first, Spellsworn comes across as an unassuming little game, especially for those of us who were initially unfamiliar with the game’s history and origins. In fact, during the initial stages of playing the game when you’re tempted to play about with the bots until you’ve learned how the game works, you might be tempted to think that the game is straight up bad. When playing with bots, the game is a clusterf**k of running, screaming wizards shooting streams of light and jumping into lava for seemingly no reason.
It can not be stressed enough that you jump into the actual online game as soon as you know how to actually play. The game is enormously fun when you play online with other people. True to its RTS roots, you control your character’s movement and aiming by right-clicking where they need to go, or holding down the right button to keep them constantly moving. You aim your attacks with the mouse as well, and once you’ve selected your spell, you left-click to fire it. When you start out each match, you get a choice between a few spells of different types, each with their own number of available slots. You get offensive spells, radial spells, defensive spells, movement spells and utility spells. The offensive spells are obviously different types of attack spells, radial spells can be aimed away from the body and do splash damage, defensive spells protect you from damage, utility spells have a variety of helpful spells like increasing movement speed or pulling enemies towards you and finally movement abilities provide you with help getting across the map, usually through a dash or teleportation. Each spell type has specific uses, and learning how to spend your points on buying and upgrading your spells to match your playstyle is almost as important as actually learning to master the controls in the first place. Once you’ve found a set-up that works, you’re likely to stick with it for as long as you’re playing the game, which is probably a long time if you get into it. Even after you die in a match, you’ll probably be surprised at how fired up you might get at seeing which of a random bunch of strangers is going to end up winning the match.
While remaining faithful to the original mod with the way the game controls, there have been some changes to certain other things mainly for the better. Firstly, the game is free-to-play, not requiring any sort of purchases to play. Obviously, that label does come with certain connotations, mainly that it is a micro-transaction filled, pay-to-win game which no one in their right mind will enjoy. Fortunately, from what we can extrapolate from news releases on the game’s discussions page, it seems like the developers have been smart about how the micro-transactions will work. You can buy the chests for real world money, but the chests are still earnable in-game, and while the different character skins and weapons in the game are likely to be highly sought after, they do appear to be simply cosmetic, meaning no one will be paying to have an unfair advantage.
Developer: Frogsong Studios
Publisher: Frogsong Studios
Release Date: 13th March 2018