IndieCade East Spotlight: Treachery in Beatdown City
This year’s IndieCade East was a good deal bigger than last year’s show. My first day in NYC was spent navigating train and subway maps in order to stumble upon the Museum of the Moving Image. I sat in on a few talks and played a bunch of games, but it wasn’t until day two when the show came alive.
Treachery in Beatdown City is a game we’ve been covering for over a year now. It’s still being developed with Shawn Allen of Nuchallenger at the helm, but a few things have changed in the last two years. The game is now a collaborative effort between Shawn, the head honcho; Manny, the coder; Inversephase, the composer; and Diana Santiago, Shawn’s wife and the game’s artist. The pieces have finally fallen into place for this tactical, retro-themed beat-em-up, and here’s why.
The combat system of Treachery in Beatdown City is the first thing that will set it apart when it releases sometime this year. Instead of mashing buttons near enemies to punch them to death, much of the combat takes place in menus, like your favorite RPG of old. Your three meters to keep an eye on are HP (health), FP (fighting points), and your combo meter. The combo meter looks like three (at first) blue squares underneath your avatar. When you walk up to an enemy and press the square button, you bring up a menu of attacks. The menu is broken up into a few different parts – Strikes, Grapples, Combos, Items. Adding an attack to the queue expends one blue square and some fight points. Pulling off combos will send your character into ‘combo boost’ mode, which means attacks will deal more damage and your meters will refill more rapidly. It becomes immediately apparent that to stay alive in this game, you’ll have to juggle these systems and think before you act. Be wary, though, as enemies are fueled by the same system.
First of all, the art in Treachery in Beatdown City is fantastic. Shawn and Diana have crafted characters that are truly representative of New York City locals. Though most of the game is inspired by back-in-the-day beat-em-ups, the characters are here and now – rounder than their 8-bit renditions would lead one to believe. I played the opening tutorial and a few battles into the game as Lisa, the game’s protagonist. There were two separate occasions where the portrait-based dialogue scenes made me stop and think about what was going on. One of these occasions included a brief talk with an officer who harasses you based on your appearance. Hearing Shawn talk about the game for just over a year, I wasn’t surprised to come across this bit of social commentary. But it’s this aspect of the game that will elevate it from being a nifty retro remake to something new; something real. Expect social, racial, and gender issues to crop up throughout the game.
Treachery in Beatdown City is currently an episodic project. The first episode will be available on PlayStation Mobile and will act as an introduction to East Fulton, the game’s primary location. It features about two hours of gameplay, which will fit nicely on the platform. However, the game is moving from PSM SDK to Unity as long as its Kickstarter gets funded. This move will allow Shawn and team to more easily develop the projected six episodes of Treachery in Beatdown City. Also, it wouldn’t be surprising if the subsequent games came out on PlayStation platforms (think PS4/PSVita). Check out the page and fund, fund, fund!
Treachery in Beatdown City KickStarter page