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Deathtrap: Once More Into the Ink...

Company: Neocore Games

Seal In the Ink:

The incredible world of Van Helsing awaits in Neocore Games' upcoming offering, Deathtrap. For those who played one of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing games, you know what I'm talking about. For those who missed out, imagine a dark, gritty steampunk world in which evil, mystical creatures lurk in a nether-realm known as "the Ink." These creatures seek to make their way into the "real world" and to wreak havoc upon its inhabitants and seize control. Much like Helsing in the aforementioned games, you're responsible from stopping that from happening.

Defend the World as We Know It:

I came into the series with The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II. (See review link below). That game was a lot of fun. One of my favorite parts was the occasional tower defense level, where you had to prevent enemy monsters from making it through the entrance to your secret lair. While fun, these levels were few and far between, with the rest of the game being more of a Diablo-style gameplay.

Evidently, Neocore got enough praise for the tower defense levels that they decided that particular gameplay deserved its own game. Deathtrap is that game, taking place in the same universe as The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II, (and I assume the first one, as well).

A Growing Experience:

Like the previous game, Deathtrap features a rich leveling system, with the ability to buy items, craft items, salvage items (and, reportedly coming soon, upgrade your items) and acquire and build up your equipment to maximize your efficiency and to work best with the way you play. You can choose from a Sorceress or a Mercenary (at the moment), with your class determining the skills available to select and upgrade.

As you play through the game, you will earn points to unlock and enhance new skills that can take the form of either passive improvements or actions (such as attacks or buffs) that you can perform in your fight against the vile things from the Ink. You will also earn points that can be spent to unlock upgrades for the wide variety of traps that you have available. These upgrades can do useful things such as reducing the cost of building a trap, reducing the trap's reset time (cooldown), increasing its damage or making it more effective in other ways, such as slowing enemies down or making them vulnerable to damage for a while.

There is enough variation in the traps for a player to build up strategies to best make use of these traps and enhancements, such as using a trap that will slow down enemies and leave them vulnerable to a certain type of damage followed by a trap that dishes out that type of damage over time, or simply unlocking upgrades (which can be added after a trap has been built in-game) on the traps you tend to use more often so that, when you find yourself low on funds, you at least have some place that your last 12 essence points (the currency used to build traps) can be spent and actually help you out.

A Glimpse Of Futures Past:

Some of the things that can be glimpsed in playing the early build only hint at what's to come. Specifically, you can venture off of the map defined for the tower defense levels and just sort of wander off into the woods. When you do so, you will find wolves and enemies that are just sort of out there minding their own business. For now, they are greyed out and can't be attacked or otherwise interacted with, but it appears that there will be "side quests" in the game when it is released. These side quests look like they will be short and more in the "random encounter" sort of category, unless there are to also be other maps that are somehow linked to from "doors" on the tower defense levels. At any rate, it was interesting to see these elements hanging around the edges of the level, and I do hope that these make it into the game when it's released.

Another thing available to a limited degree is the level editor. With what is available, you can create your own levels, from the design, to the paths, to the enemies and the waves. However, as far as I can tell, you can't alter the setting (for example, if you wanted your level to be in the woods), and there doesn't appear to be any way to raise or lower sections of the floors in user-created levels, while many of the levels in the game features stairs and differing heights. You can create levels and play them now, but the ability to share them via Steam is not yet available and, as such, you can't try out anyone else's levels, either.

While "buying-in" at the Early Access gives no guarantee of further development of the game, it is currently slated for a February 4th release (at the same price as the currently available Early Access version). Upon release, Neocore plans to include "way more levels" as well as additional Character Classes and the above mentioned user-submitted content.

There are multiplayer modes available - both cooperative and a competitive "Versus" mode. I haven't managed to get into either and actually play against anyone as of yet, but these modes are available in the Early Access period. I will put these modes through their paces and have a full report in my upcoming review after the game is released.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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