After one hour into the game, I am left with such impressiveness. This turn based rpg takes me by surprise as it moves away from the traditional combat system to a unique environmental combat system.
As you are thrown into Firstborn, there are no instructions as to how to play, but you quickly understand what you have to do. It takes about 10 seconds to figure out, “Oh, I can walk like this if I click.” Which is good for new time players who aren’t into turn-based rpg games.
Your first level is easy. Learn to walk and learn to use your push skill. The UI takes a bit to get used since we are all used to the AAA graphics, but firstborn gives you all the information you need. You’re health bar, stamina bar, and your action points which is shown in the lower left corner.
Health Bar: Pretty much how much you can sustain hits. In Firstborn, you start off with 2 hitpoints but can grow by collecting relics. Hit hit from an enemy will cost you 1 hit points. Stronger enemies can hurt you more.
Stamina Bar: This tells you how much movement space you can walk in the map per turn which can be increased by collecting relics.
Action Points: The amount of actions you can do in one turn
Every level requires you to complete a goal. For now, it’s either defeat enemies or go to the objective point to win which is marked as green trophies.
The next level takes the challenge one step further as you fight your first goblin creature. Now hear’s where the game becomes interesting. Fighting isn’t the traditional attack, wait, attack, turn based game. In fact, it’s, push, move, and push!
The stage is filled with traps such such as spikes and death pits and the occasional bombs if you find it in the level. All you have to do is push that goblin into a spike or a death pit or a bomb and you’ll kill it. This is what I mean by environmental combat system. You’re character doesn’t do the damage, your environment does! How unique is that?
Oh and there are other ways to kill enemies other than spikes and death pits; you can push them into the water! Or stun them to death by bashing them into the walls while repositioning yourself to push them into the water!
Skipping ahead 1 hour into the game, you’ll be given two heroes to add to your journey.
A Hero with the Shield
A Man with a Whip
Just when pushing enemies gets a bit boring, Firstborn throws you two new mechanics to the game. The scoundrel, or as I like to call him, “the man with the whip”, allows you to only pull targets: allies or enemies.
And the guardian shield which only allows you to stun enemies as well as block in the direction you are facing.
You’ll learn their mechanics quickly as you’ll start off by playing each character solo but eventually, these character’s will join together, giving you a lot to think about when it comes to strategy.
I can see how tactical this game can be and how difficult it’ll be later on in the game. Just imagine fighting 10 goblins with your 3 heroes that can’t deal direct damage. And with your limited HP bar, you have to play strategically! If you do the math, you’re on the losing side! Now that’s fun!
It isn’t an RPG if there aren’t any character growths. The same applies to turn based games which requires players having the time to think about your actions.
Firstborn has just those elements to attract the rpg turn based community. The pixel art lacks contrast and it’ll feel like a giant blurred mosaic, but don’t let that dismay you into thinking that this game is bad.
I had fun playing this game. The unique battle system where defeating your enemies indirectly is a game mechanic that is one of it’s kind in the gaming community – I like to call this the environmental combat system – And it’ll keep you playing until the end.
At times the levels are easy and you pick up what you have to do quickly, but that’s just me as a gamer. My play style is on the more challenging side where odds of winning is 20%.
Just when you feel like you’ve mastered one ability, it throws you a new ability which leaves you figuring out, “how will I kill this goblin?” The challenge is always there and it doesn’t leave you bored.
Overall, It’s a game I would recommend to the turn based rpg community because of its unique battle system. Give this game a try, and you’ll be stunned just as I was when I played it.
What is your game about?
Guile & Glory: Firstborn is a strategy RPG set in a savage, bronze age world inspired by swords & sorcery fiction and classic arcade titles. The game follows the converging stories of three heroes as they venture into a forgotten realm where humanity was once enslaved by the monstrous first children of the Gods.
What makes your game unique?
The thing that makes Guile & Glory: Firstborn unique is the combat system. Unlike most strategy RPGs, the player’s units can’t harm enemies directly. Instead, the heroes gain a range of abilities to maneuver enemies into various hazards on the battlefield. While enemies can attack directly, their behavior is fully deterministic, and the player can learn to turn those behaviors to their advantage, and even trick enemies into killing each other with the right strategy.
The mechanics are very unique and it involves killing your enemies indirectly. What made you think of that idea?
That’s a funny story, actually. I studied game design at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment, and one of the most important milestones in the final year of the course was a group project. I knew that a tactical, turn-based game with a small scope was achievable, and I knew of a few people with the skills to make that happen. Unfortunately, though, the people I had in mind weren’t big strategy RPG fans, so I knew I’d have to pitch something a little unorthodox to pique their interest. A couple of them were really passionate about environmental combat in games, so I decided to try designing a tactical battle system where the only weapons were hazards on the battlefield. To be totally honest, I was far from confident that it would work, but after a few paper prototypes, the system really started coming together, and I was able to form a team. Building the prototype went smoothly, but we went our separate ways after the course. In the end, I decided to take those early concepts and try developing them into a commercial project, and along the way I met the very talented people I’m now developing the game with.
While I was playing Firstborn, the difficulty felt easy to medium. The difficulty slowly rises as you progress through the game. Will there be a hard mode for those hard core strategy rpg players?
The question of difficulty in Firstborn has been an interesting one. Early on in development, we received a lot of feedback that the game was much too brutal, so we’ve been working hard to smooth out the game’s difficulty curve. With that said, we have a few things in the works to offer hardcore strategy fans a worthy challenge. Some of the later-game optional content and random dungeons will be absolutely savage, and unlocking the alternate final boss and ending will be a daunting task. Regarding hard mode specifically, I’m afraid I can’t announce anything officially at this time, but I will say that we have been in discussions about a hardcore mode, and something might be in the works.
What inspired you to make Firstborn?
I’ve always loved strategy RPGs. I grew up on Brigandine, Vandal Hearts and Final Fantasy Tactics, and those games remain some of my favorites to this day. I was also a huge fan of some of the arcade titles that came to the early home consoles. In particular, the Golden Axe series really captured my imagination. I had always wanted to try combining the strategic mechanics I loved with the bombastic, over-the-top fantasy of those early swords & sorcery beat-em-ups. When I was studying game design, I started toying around with some ideas for what that might look like, and that’s how the early concepts for Firstborn came about. In the years since, I’ve been fortunate enough to have the chance to bring those concepts to life alongside a wonderful team.
What are your future plans for Firstborn and as a company?
We are enormously excited to finally have Firstborn on Steam in early access. Going forward, we can’t wait to add the remaining story chapters, random dungeons and optional challenges. Once that’s done, we will probably undertake a couple of smaller projects to test a few new things and refine our development pipeline, but we have some big things in the works. I’m happy to say that we are by no means finished with the Guile & Glory universe. A much more technically-ambitious sequel to Firstborn is definitely on the cards, but I can’t say more about that for now. We also have another IP in early pre-production. We haven’t officially announced anything yet, so I’m afraid I can’t say much about that either, save that it’s another strategy RPG with some pretty exciting systems behind it. What I can say is that we’ll definitely have a few announcements to make over the rest of 2020 and going into the new year.
Is there anything else you want to say to the world?
First of all, we’d like to say thank you Yobob for having us on your blog! We’re a tiny team based in Melbourne, Australia,and Guile & Glory: Firstborn is the first title we’ve developed as a studio. We’ve been very fortunate to have a wonderful community come along for the ride, and we’re excited to see the game continue to grow with their incredible support and feedback!
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