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SACRIFICE ACCEPTED. That’s what you’ll be seeing flash on your screen over and over again when Temple of Yog, an indie title currently in development for the Wii U, is released later this year.
If “prepare to die” wasn’t already being used as a marketing slogan for the Dark Souls series, it would be a perfect way for developer CHUDCHUD Industries to sell to the hardcore crowd. Temple of Yog is tough, and like the Souls series, you will find yourself dying quite often, that is, until it “clicks.”
ToY can be described as roguelike with RPG and town building elements sprinkled in for good measure. At its core, it’s a challenging, dungeon crawling, looting and leveling affair that rewards patience and skillful play.
In ToY, the player controls a deity that must guide sacrificial tributes, heroes of different class archetypes with unique skills and play styles, through dangerous dungeons. Initially, players can choose from four starting classes: warrior, thief, mage, and cleric, with more classes that unlock as they progress through the game.
Each class has its own skill set which includes a standard attack and an MP consuming skill, such as a high speed dash for the thief or the mage’s force field. The player, as the deity, will guide the chosen hero (which is hilariously selected by the “wondrous white dove of discharge, who drops a load on the hero that is fated to be the next tribute) through procedurally generated rooms, fighting monsters, collecting restorative items, and solving puzzles, leading up to the inevitable boss fight.
Speaking of puzzles, ToY’s come in the form of a light and shadow world mechanic. In addition to a HP and MP bar, each hero has a shadow gauge, which allows them to switch between the light and shadow realms on the fly. The shadow meter will rapidly decrease while the player is in the shadow realm until it is empty, forcing the hero back into the light realm, and refills slowly over time. Much like the 3DS’s The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, ToY uses this mechanic to allow the player to advance through a seemingly dead end.
ToY uses the Nintendo Wii U’s game pad controller screen to display the shadow world, while the light world is shown on the TV screen. This does take some getting used to, as the player will have to be attentive to both screens, making certain that there are no enemies waiting to catch them off guard while they swap between worlds, or worse, are forced back into the light world from the shadow world when their shadow meter runs dry.
When a hero dies – and they will, a lot – experience is gained in the form of boon points based on how long the dungeon run was, kills, and items collected. Once enough boon points are earned, the player can choose which class to level up, and which stats to boost. I earned my first level up after about 15 minutes of playing rather badly, but the stat increases made my mage noticeably more powerful and resilient on subsequent runs.
While this system of progression works pretty well, it does make me wonder if it will dissuade players from branching out and trying other classes. Using skill points to buff the one specific class that fits the players style would be the obvious choice to make things a bit easier. I couldn’t help but wonder if the final version would possibly benefit from a separate experience system that benefits all classes at once, a la Diablo 3’s Paragon levels, as a means to entice players to try out each class.
Visually, ToY is comprised of pixel art and sprites that any old school gamer would appreciate. While simple, they fit the feel of the game perfectly. I was only able to play through the level called “The Sands,” but am hopeful that the dungeons in the final version will offer more variety.
The music is also a blast from the past, featuring chip tunes from musician and game developer Peter Montoulieu, AKA: Dr. Zilog. Having played quite poorly, I heard the game’s character select and death songs enough to find myself humming along to them during my play through.
I was pretty pleased with what I played of this early version of ToY. In less than an hour, I could tell I was going to be addicted. Much like in the Dark Souls series, the many deaths I suffered were totally wiped away by the sense of accomplishment I felt when after beating my best run time, and while I was unable to clear the opening dungeon, I imagine that taking down your first boss offers even greater satisfaction.
Temple of Yog is slated to be released for the Wii U by the end of 2014, and is indie developer CHUDCHUD Industries’ first major console release. A PC only demo was recently made available here.