Warlocks vs. Shadows in Early Access – Preview

Developed by Frozen District originally and then with the addition of extra team members, One More Level, Warlock vs. Shadows is now in Steam Early Access (as of March 17th) and lots of amazing additions have been made to the game ever since. The most recent, as of July 9th, was Horde Mode. Before delving into anything, I am going to stress that this game is in Steam Early Access (albeit, awfully sophisticated in design for an Early Access game thus far) and has a limited amount of content available, therefore we can’t really make a definite yay or nay on it. However, given what content is available so far, which is about three chapters worth of gameplay that can be played through in a couple of hours, Warlocks vs. Shadows is making outstanding progress.

Received a copy of Warlocks vs. Shadows from the PR.

 Did I Mention this was on Kickstarter?

Back in October, the Kickstarter campaign for Warlocks vs. Shadows (then named Warlocks) was launched to fund Dushan Chaciej’s Risk of Rain inspired game. After Risk of Death was posted online, people gravitated to the project and began working on Warlocks. In May of 2014, Warlocks was displayed at Digital Dragons 2014, receiving a lot of positive buzz from players.  Kickstarter proved to be an excellent platform for the development team to have direct conversation with the potential players and backers, getting an idea of what features they may be interested in and shaping the development around their suggestions. The majority of the funds acquired through the Kickstarter campaign were to be used for art assets mainly and in-game animations but also to cover things like licenses, various Kickstarter fees and rewards, and voice acting.

On October 2nd, 2014, thanks to 1,023 generous backers, Warlocks was funded for $26,351. Warlocks was planned for release on PC, Mac, Linux, and Wii U. If certain stretch goals were met, they were planning to expand to next generation consoles but those goals were not met. In March of 2015, Warlocks vs. Shadows was released on Steam Early Access, available for $13.99.

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Setting the Scene/Bring on the Brawl

Warlocks vs. Shadows takes place in a world where a slew of shadow monsters have spread and begun invading. They are strong and come in all shapes and sizes. The shadow virus has overtaken so many important warlocks.Players step into the shoes of a powerful Warlock equipped with various unique abilities and a multitude of weaponry/armor/upgrades. In the Early Access version, players begin with just five warlocks with very, very different play-styles. Each level is accessible from portals from its previous level. In the Early Access version, only three chapters are available for gameplay, each ending with a massive boss battle.

Players pick a warlock, go through the tutorial, then move from chapter to chapter, wave after wave, boss after boss. Each character/warlock will follow their own campaign so altering between then will resume the player at wherever they last left their gameplay with that specific warlock. This grants players a broad range of gameplay experimentation and some may find themselves with greater success with a particular play-style over another.

In my case, it was Jake, the pyromancer with a freakin’ phoenix. I really loved playing him. According to the Kickstarter, he’s a go-to warlock for a new player as he is the easiest to play. Aside from the five warlocks available at the beginning of the campaign, players will free various warlocks from the wrath of the shadow virus, making them playable characters.

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For the entirety of Warlocks vs. Shadows, players are thrown into a beautiful pixelated/low-bit world with a sidescrolling camera and an uneven terrain filled with platforms and steps for creative combat (or aversion) against/from shadow creatures. Now, players will be going through waves upon waves of hordes. As they progress through the levels per chapter, the number of waves and difficulty of hordes will increase. If we’re talking about over the span of the chapters here, they’ll also increase in difficulty from chapter to chapter.

In every level, players will find all sorts of amazing procedurally generated loot dropped after sweeping through waves and the shadow monsters will always drop some beautiful coin for upgrade purchases. Several levels will also have some amazing loot available at the end of the level as well. With these items, players can upgrade their stats and customize their wizard to their heart’s content.

And just a fancy little piece of extra information for you, Warlocks vs. Shadows is also available in online and local Co-Op and Versus mode for up to four players. Also, Warlocks vs. Shadows does have controller support which I highly  recommend.

Horde Mode?

Ah, yes. Horde Mode is the most recent addition to Warlocks vs. Shadows which features five extra arenas where players face an endless stream of shadow monsters, co-op (online and offline), and leaderboards. In the recent update, a bunch of bugs have been fixed as well which can be elaborated on here in their update post on Steam.

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My Experience?

Thing is, when I gave Warlocks vs. Shadows a playthrough, I was pretty hooked in. Sure, I picked the easiest character but he has his advantages and I was comfortable with his play-style. Plus, a little kid with a phoenix raising hell is a delightful choice. The warlocks are designed with similarities in how their skills are divided for functionality but there is a very distinct difference between each to truly suit a player’s play-style. Some were very combo based, one included a healing skill, others were more melee-based rather than magic and ranged. It’s a tense, fast-paced game suitable for players who follow a particular play-style and those adventurous ones who can alter between several.

That being said, I loved the entire process facing challenge after challenge with increasingly difficult hordes charging at me from both sides of the level with aerial and ground attacks. I’m excited to learn more about the story in the finalized release version and unlock all the remaining characters.

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For More Information

For more information about Warlocks vs. Shadows, please check out the Steam page, Twitter, and official Facebook page.  It is available for PC, Mac, and Linux right now. For anyone who’ll be in attending Gamescom this year, One More Level will be announcing the release date of Warlocks vs. Shadows (which will be late August) and players can get their hands on the demo and chat up the developers at the booth.

Additionally, for anyone interested in EDM, Dj Zardonic has recently become another playable Warlock in Warlocks vs. Shadows! 

Julie Morley

Founder/Editor/Sole Writer at IndieRoot.com
Favorite genre: Story-oriented/Narrative Driven. Point and Click. Adventure. Action-adventure. Sandbox. Open world.
Favorite game(s): Gone Home, Life is Strange, Back to Bed, Transistor
Non-indie: Mafia II, L.A. Noire, Dark Cloud II (Dark Chronicle), The Assassin's Creed Series (mainly Brotherhood and Black Flag)

Worked for Cliqist.com from Jan 2013 to Februrary 2014.

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