Othercide (PlayStation 4) Review

By Eric Ace 19.10.2020

Review for Othercide on PlayStation 4

Othercide, released in 2020, was developed by Lightbulb Crew. This small indie developer studio was founded in 2013 and is based both in France and Sweden. Styled obviously after XCOM-like tactical strategy games, this title allows for controlling sacrificial 'sisters' battling a horror collection of monsters from another world. With a heavy, and rather unique, 'sacrifice' element, Cubed3 checks to see how it plays out.

The experience of Othercide is like going on a new rollercoaster: no idea what to expect, some highs and some lows, all of which seem to come unnervingly close to each other. Firstly, some positive aspects are that this game is full of surprising quality and its atmosphere is very strong throughout. It brings some decidedly unique elements to the genre that flow pretty well within the game but will likely be a deciding factor for interested players. However, the game suffers from repetition, as well as a lack of polish and progress.

Important to note right away is that enjoyment of dark or horror elements along with the 'white-black-red' scheme is of essence, as this game revels in these two. Arguably, XCOM had a broad-range appeal that this game lacks. Othercide's story is told in very vague tidbits and revelations, but what can slowly be pieced together is some sort of battle against a monster that takes place across various eras. There is a battle with a boss of each era every few days which acts as a timer for how many battles can be fought before encountering the super bosses. These super boss battles are generally very hard to win, forcing a reset to the start of the week upon losing.

Screenshot for Othercide on PlayStation 4

The game primarily takes place in battle. Initially, there is access to three classes: high-damage sword user, tank shield user and long-range gunner. The main gimmick in battle is that there is no option to heal (excluding killing a soldier to heal another) and so every single hit slowly chips away from the health pool. It makes for a very tense battle as any mistake is truly costly. Oddly, many of the best moves require health to use, making death even more certain.

Intentionally having permanent loss of life is an interesting choice and it certainly increased the tension, but as the game goes on it actually feels like a gimmick that is more problematic than interesting. Firstly, as mentioned before, soldiers can only be healed by sacrificing someone else. This type of element in a game is always very divisive. Furthermore, because so many moves require HP loss, it sets a very odd precedent that these soldiers are used on some sort of timer before using them as sacrifice and moving onto a new one.

Screenshot for Othercide on PlayStation 4

Perhaps the largest issue in regard to this is battle itself. Given how damaging a hit is (which sometimes can blow half or more of life away), it is necessary to check each monster's range over and over to ensure the soldiers' safety. What makes this more problematic is that the game lacks a 'check-lock' to actually turn range of all enemies visible and take a look. Furthermore, it does not show maximal potential range, so far too often, after pulling out of shown range, the actual range is even further. Normally these are just nuisances that could be fixed but in a game with such huge consequences it really starts to negatively affect the gameplay. It is not fun at all to have a good soldier and have been carefully checking enemies' range, only to find out they still attack beyond this range anyway.

Between battles there is a simple menu system where level-ups can be chosen as appropriate or some skill-boosting items can be equipped onto moves. The other main aspects here are sacrificing others to heal or making new level-1 soldiers to send back into the fray. While different missions can be chosen here, they all feel pretty much the same which leads to the next set of problems.

At first the novelty of the game is very striking, and it reeks of 'coolness', with characters having their red battle scarves and letting the blood flow. Unfortunately, not too far into the game assets start being recycled and the grind starts hitting hard. For example, listening to the same battle music for hours and hours is okay at first, but the song never changes. This is unfortunate as the game actually has some very good music. The theme song is a surprisingly good hard-rock song that feels appropriate. The first boss battle was a pleasant surprise as well, as the repetitious battle theme is replaced with cool driving metal.

Screenshot for Othercide on PlayStation 4

The repetition derives from being killed over and over again. The carefully designed fighters will inevitably die and while there is a way to re-incarnate a select few, it kills any feeling of being invested in them. Even when turning purely utilitarian and viewing them as grinder resources, the issue of what often feels like random attacks in battle start to ratchet up the feeling of annoyance. Very slowly bonuses will be unlocked that persist from run to run (such as more items and more health) but these are simply taking too long.

One reason for this stalling is that battles just take too long given how extreme the consequences are. Checking range over and over, mixed in with the surprise attack that still somehow got through, is not fun. Battle to battle largely feels the same and despite the characters all playing differently, they all generally start to blur together very quickly. Even though there is an interesting time-bar system of slowing enemies down and watching turns to best take advantage of taking a double-turn in battle, it actually is a further slowdown more than anything.

In the end, while some elements in Othercide are absolutely cool, other elements simply need more work. The battles are too punishing for how long they take to perfect. The progression is just a little too slow and everything starts to feel the same a little too fast. This is the type of game that really needed a difficulty adjustment, as those with a very high tolerance for pain and grind will be right at home. Otherwise, if the whole ordeal was faster with less repetition and better tools (namely range/attack checks that work), it would be far better. As it is, it is still pretty cool, pretty good and unique, but it hamstrings itself with how good it could have been.

Screenshot for Othercide on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

The problems with Othercide are mainly some lack of polish, some pacing issues and the repetitious grind that is going to hit hard. The novelty of the game is surprising, and the quality is actually good. Some choices, like practically requiring soldier sacrifice, are going to be off-putting, along with the colour scheme and dark tones and story. Beyond this, the progress run to run feels too slow and may be off-putting on an otherwise unique game.

Developer

Lightblub Crew

Publisher

Focus Home Interactive

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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