We Shall Wake Critique

What do you think of this?

I already commented on another of their videos, quoted below. I think the movement system and combat systems don’t compliment each other at all.

I feel like the game has a really poor sense of momentum. You got a few people complaining about the speed, and you say you played Sonic a lot as a kid, so you’re not changing it. Eh. The thing about Prototype and Sonic is, both have the character accelerate in order to move quickly, and both have the character slide to a stop. The exception is if you use a trick of some sort or an environmental feature to gain speed or to stop quickly.

The attacks you have here all start abruptly, allow no movement input during them and travel in completely static patterns. Compare to DMC, Mirror’s Edge, Smash Bros, King of Fighters, Guilty Gear, Prototype. The animations and movements in this game lack oomph. You’re animating like ninja theory (I hope you remember the article where Capcom had to seriously tell them about timing and spacing in animations to give attacks a sense of impact). None of the animations flow into each other, they’re all abrupt, most of them lock you in place, they start and end suddenly.

End result is a game that’s super fast and super janky. I know you’re not going for this. You’re going for something fluid like prototype, but with combat that is worth a damn and I don’t think your current approach will get you there. Your animator and your programmer should be working together to try to blend the animations and the movement of the whole character together into a cohesive whole. All the animations seem to play mostly in place or on a completely static motion track. Consider how the acceleration builds and declines through the animation. Consider how the moves change based on directional input and facing direction, consider how they change based on the momentum of the character at the time. Consider arcs, gravity, emphasis. The teleport and rising kick animations are especially weird because of how abruptly they move in a totally different direction than you were previously headed.

That and the jump is seriously fucked up. The dude just pops up with no anticipation, so it feels like a really weird jump. There’s force but it comes from nowhere. The jumping animations themselves are really weak too and don’t reflect the massive change in acceleration.

I’m a bit biased, but I think an important inspiration here would be smash bros. Smash bros, unlike other fighting games, and very much like your game, is all about momentum. Especially aerial momentum. Players can control it all the time while they’re in the air, and on the ground they’re also dealing with momentum. They transfer momentum from the ground to the air, they need to employ various tactics to keep their options open on the ground, in the air they can use attacks that move them forward and back, while also finely controlling where they’re going at the same time. Attacks are based on doing damage, but also on pushing the enemy around. This style seems very similar to what you seem to be going for. Your combat system is currently very much about timed inputs in close quarters to locked on targets. It just doesn’t fit with the larger system. You’re exploring the wrong design space there. Try thinking up different attacks that sweep through space differently, and are affected in different ways by your momentum, or which can be leveraged in different ways by your momentum. A better angle to go than the current system might be to focus on the player avoiding attacks by weaving between them, instead of just getting away from the enemies, and to in turn try to use attacks whose paths intersect with the enemies without exposing the player in the process. Coming back to smash bros, here’s some inspiration, jigglypuff has short ranged attacks, but awesome aerial mobility, so jiggs constantly dances right outside the enemy attack range, gets them to commit to something, then slides in, pokes the guy, and slides out. It’s a constant back and forth dance in the air. Marth meanwhile is all about attacking with the very tip of his blade the instant an enemy is in range, so he tends towards finely adjusting himself to always be at that perfect distance. Other characters of course have other tactics, but everyone has different attacks that make use of space differently and have different applications from one another. Most of the ground attacks here, except those with more explicit functions, like gap closing, seem really samey. Get the game designer on board and work out attacks that use space and momentum more effectively, that’s what meshes with the movement system you’re trying to build, don’t waste it.

Also, the way the character turns is completely silly. There should be a turning animation there, but it shouldn’t change the character’s position as they turn. This makes walking around in any slightly precise way really irritating.

The combat system feels haphazardly put together, like they just chose random components for it rather than something that resembles combat. No thought about the neutral game, just punishes, and sure you can get some fast flying air combos, but the properties of the moves are so similar that linking them together doesn’t really feel that special, especially given that you have a universal cancel in the form of the auto slash, much like Vergil’s DMC4 SE air trick. Also heavy reliance on combo strings is lame.

I don’t think they really thought about how to create a system of interrelated interactions and a multitude of viable strategies, I think they were just tossing in some random combat mechanics that they thought would look cool and would function in a sort of unique way. Good on them for making a working prototype, but I don’t think the final product will have much longevity.

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