FACTS 2013 - Runes of Brennos Hands-On

Wingardium Leviosa or whatever you kids call it now.

By Daavpuke, Posted 25 Oct 2013

There’s this thing called the “Leap Motion” and it acts as a form of motion controller for PC. It registers precise movements, where players swish a finger around to make things happen on the screen. In the indie game Runes of Brennos, this is used to cast magic spells with just a few swipes over the screen. Since this technology isn’t for everyone just yet, there’s also a touchscreen and regular desktop version, which uses similar swashes to present a simple, strategic game with intertwined elements.

Magic in hand, players descend upon the ancient European lands to take over provinces of other, lesser equipped wizards. Before heading into combat, a certain area needs to be chosen on a map, where opposing tribes are brewing up trouble. From there, the game is taken to a static battlefield, opposing one elder druid at the other side of an ancient temple or a stone structure or a dark forest. Scenes have clean enough textures to emphasize the atmosphere, but it’s the spell flurries that articulate the sense of wonder with lighting effects in many different colors.

To combat a foe, a set of spells need to be mastered, each with their own element and specific drawing. By lining up different patterns across the screen, it’s possible to throw a torrent of water, a tornado and so on. At first, only a few elements are given with simple commands, such as straight lines, in order to learn the mechanisms.

Both sides of the screen get a turn to either attack or defend. During this action period, spells can be flung at each other, until a timer runs out. Certain assaults counter others, depending on their type. For instance, water kills fire, but fire consumer air and so forth. This sets the basis of the strategic encounters. For every action, there needs to be an equal counter or else the wizard takes damage and that hurts.

To the game’s credit, it ushers in the tempo well. Three elements are given at first, but once a few battles have gone by, two additional possibilities alter the dynamics to more complex fights. Once these are done with being introduced, the fight climbs to adding spell levels. Now, mages need to not only match the correct counter, but also ensure that they provide the same potency. Casting a weaker version will only see the spell break through and still come in for damage. Furthermore, higher attacks come with more complex swipes, so for each layer, there is a gradually climbing challenge.

As an additional point of prowess, trying to master all combination also tends to be a lot more difficult than it seems. Yes, there are only five elements and three tiers, but matching difficulty with the limited time to give commands does set of a sense of urgency. Blocking all incoming attacks may prove to be more vicious than first anticipated. There is a decent amount of challenge at the core of Runes of Brennos.

Still, the preview does have some sizable room for improvement in two areas. First off, the artificial intelligence (AI) has a limit to what it can withstand. Just blurting out a myriad of attacks will at some point break the capacity and have all subsequent hits come through. This can easily be remedied in a multiplayer game, where this urgency would only intensify battles. A more problematic flaw so far is that detection of swipes lacks the ultimate precision needed. When performing aforementioned spamming, some straight lines may be associated with others, instead of separated, meaning that two attacks may be seen as an incorrect whole and destroy the spell. Tuning this pinpointed precision could mean the difference between merely a capable game and a truly frenetic encounter.

Speaking with the developer also revealed plans to reiterate the game if development should pick up. For instance, the overall campaign map now only serves as a device to go into the next battle, but it could get enhanced with some province management later on. Perhaps some character customization to further diversify wizards could help to give the game even more depth.

As it stands, Runes of Brennos is a straightforward yet challenging game with enough strategic elements to stay entertaining for a while. By combining spells into an intricate scheme and pairing it to a limited amount of time, battles are laced with some exciting elements. It could, however, do with some tweaks and perhaps also enhancements, but it’s a few steps into the right direction already.

You can also watch a short demonstration in this gameplay commentary below.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed. (@Daavpuke)

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): LuGus Studios
Developer(s): LuGus Studios
Genres: Strategy
Themes: Arcade
Release Date: 2013-12-30

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