Wayward Hands-On Preview

The next project from Rocketcat Games– the makers of excellent titles like Hook Champ, Mage Gauntlet, and Punch Quest— will fit right into Rocketcat’s retro-style portfolio. The game is called Wayward, and it’s a free-to-play hack-‘n-slash dungeon crawler that developer Kepa Auwae describes as “Zelda plus Dark Souls plus Spelunky.”

Wayward has you choose a class when you start. They’re shooting for six or seven classes at release, with more to come if the game is popular enough. As you’d expect, each class has its own unique spells and special moves. Then you’re dropped into a randomly generated level.

One thing that sets Wayward apart from Mage Gauntlet is its roguelike (and Spelunky-like) idea of permanent death. Your character grows more powerful as you progress, but only some stats and upgrades are carried over once you die and start again– others are gone for good.

We played through a tutorial level based in and around a castle. The graphics are gorgeously retro, calling to mind games from the SNES era. In fact, the gameplay reminded us a lot of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. We moved around, slashing enemies with a sword, and holding down to charge up a whirlwind attack, just like Link does.

But once magic was introduced, the game started to feel more like its own thing. Slashing with a sword is done just by tapping the right side of the screen. Using magic requires you to swipe or draw onscreen gestures with your thumb. The game has no buttons, and we found it a little difficult to cast spells reliably. We hope they can perfect the controls prior to launch.

Because the game is free-to-play, Rocketcat is looking into ways to monetize it. Primarily, you’ll be able to purchase access to classes that are locked when you first start. You can unlock them by grinding for currency as well, but it’s quicker if you throw some money their way. They’re also considering a coin-doubler as in-app purchase. And if you’ve ever played a Rocketcat game before, it won’t surprise you to learn that you can also buy hats for your characters.

And for fans of Rocketcat, you should know that Wayward may be the last hardcore game the company releases for a while. Auwae said they’re going to work on a few “toilet games” next– meaning casual games you can play on the toilet.

Wayward will be free-to-play, and is scheduled to hit the App Store sometime around May.

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