Nice concept demo you've got there, lads. Let us know when you make the actual game?

The defining moment of this game was when I realised I had to play a minimum of 6 hours to prevent my editors from eating my career alive, and yet I was 45 minutes in and already bored to the back teeth.

Spellsworn is a top-down action title in which you control one of four wizards, trapped on an island which slowly shrinks in size over the course of a match. You’re probably imagining a top-down version of PUBG now, aren’t you? Nah, Imagine playing a game of DOTA where everyone fits in the space of a single screen, and three minutes later they all fit into the middle 10%.

Each game is best of five, and between rounds, players are given a small amount of money to spend on new spells and upgrading ones they already have. During the play phase, these spells are used to knock other players out of the map, damage others directly, protect themselves, and move around the map. Some attacks slow, some damage in an area. Some let you blink short distances, some let you dash, some let you teleport to where you were a few seconds ago. Being out of bounds slowly damages you, and the last man to hit zero HP wins. Simple stuff.

You may be waiting for me to give you the unique selling point here, explaining how these mechanics develop a deep system which interacts with various interesting systems to create an engaging new game. Well, bad news for you, because that’s it. Whilst there are technically several different ways to play, they’re not distinct enough to feel like varied playstyle and instead just feel like arbitrary variations on the same character. You simply play a few rounds until you figure out your favourite OP combo, and then you’ve finished. Within 45 minutes, I was dominating every single game I played, using a combination of three spells- A homing Missile, a short Invisibility, and an ability which built a portal through which I could throw the homing missiles. Everyone has access to a spell which knocks people back, so I’d just whittle down my opponents from a distance before Invisibility-ing up to them and smacking them out of bounds. EZ win. In under an hour, I’d seen everything the game had to offer and was genuinely considering committing.

The lack of effort here is astounding- two years after the initial release:

  • The game still uses an awkward font that fits the style in the same way a bowl of turds fits into the village baking competition
  • Has a UI that doesn’t work as intended, to the point where I opened five crates before realising that you’re supposed to interact with a little animation in the middle of the screen to get the contents, which actually just appear in your inventory before you actually play the opening animation.
  • Has clearly spent about five minutes in the design phase, meaning that in order to ‘ready up’, one must click a X (which it genuinely took me several rounds to notice), to close a UI window, and then click on a button in the middle of the screen that said window was hiding. I sat through painfully long prep phases several times before I ever noticed.

I wondered why no-one else was having these issues, not responding in the chat when I complained. And then I noticed- for the past three hours, I’d been playing against Bots. I looked into the ‘servers’ tab hoping to find some actual human players to no avail. There were twenty-three people online, total. At that point, I simply played the game whilst I waited for teammates to make a cup of tea or use the toilet between matches of Rainbow Six: Seige.

Give the game a go for ten minutes of fun, and then delete it and never think about it again. That’s the optimum experience. ‘Spellsworn’ is an uninspired, dull blob of a game. It’s the kind of thing I’d make for a school project. It’s a concept pitch for a very dull game, which simply plays like someone took a MOBA, removed all of the interesting things about the maps and objectives, made the only game-mode a Free-for-all on the same map, and then removed all but the least interesting character. And even then, my game crashed 4 or 5 times over my 6 hours with it.

3/10

Nothing significant or interesting at all. The only redeeming factor is that it’s now free. Play ‘Majicka‘ instead, because if games were cocktails, ‘Spellsworn’ would be like being handed a shot glass of tap water.

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