Lysfanga’s isometric views may conjure up memories of Hades, but this is a different kind of game. While you’ll still be slicing and dicing monsters and enemies, protagonist Imë combines her spells and weapon combos with the ability to revert time and do it all over again, differently. The second time around, her shadow from the previous timeline will continue to rush into the enemies. If you remember the faded-out ghosts in racing games like Mario Kart and Gran Turismo, it’s a little like those, but in a collaborative, not competitive, way.
The aim is to complete separated combat levels within a single ‘run’, with only a finite number of ghost-Imës to get the job done. Naturally, things are further complicated by enemies that can’t be defeated from the front, or paired monsters that have to be killed almost simultaneously or they’ll respawn each other. Another Engadget editor said it reminded them of Transistor – the game rewards careful planning of your moves. While I was able to rush some of the early encounters without too much thinking, later levels demanded careful route planning, with doors that would lock and unlock when my character (or her ghosts) rushed through them, exploding enemies that could be punted into other enemies and a constant countdown that meant, sometimes, there wasn’t enough time to think.
Fortunately, Lysfanga's short levels – most can be completed in under two minutes – can be restarted. (Sometimes I knew I messed up, seconds into a level.) Imë also has an array of spells and special attacks with cooldown timers, to add further fight options. Controls are relatively simple, with two melee attack buttons that can be comboed together, a button to launch spells, a dash button that works for avoiding attacks and jumping across gaps, a rewind trigger for your time-twisting powers and a button for your ultimate attack.
According to the trailer, there will be a variety of weapon loadouts to suit different approaches, like long-reaching spears and speedy chakram blades. You’ll also be able to unleash a super attack that not only does heavy damage to enemies nearby but is also echoed in your doppelgangers.
While some action-game prowess helps, you’ll only beat most levels by thinking them through before you act. The controls and play style aren’t remotely similar, but Lysfanga reminded me of old Fire Emblem games, where careful planning decided a fight before it even begins. Even in this early demo, the game offers some incredibly satisfying moments when all your attacking clones come together to wipe out all the enemies in mere seconds. Each level can be replayed at markers across the game, and includes a more challenging time limit to beat, if you thought it was too easy first time around.
Along with Under The Waves, the game is one of the first titles from Quantic Dreams' new Spotlight publishing arm. Lysfanga will launch later this year on PC, through both Steam and Epic Games.
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