I’m a sucker for high fantasy. Always have been, always will. So, when I stumbled upon Cradle while perusing Kickstarter, I might have had a bit of an annurism and gone slack-jawed. As if a high fantasy setting wasn’t enough, the game looks gorgeous on top of that, and is promising innovation in a place I really never expected it; movement.
It’s always reassuring when you hear a developer, or any creative lead, talking about how a core mechanic is being used in a way to convey story. The team at Mojo Game Studios are developing something they are calling the Reflective Combat System for Cradle, and it sounds pretty exciting, if it can be pulled off. Fluid combat can often be a foundation stone upon which a game can be built. Mount & Blade worked in a somewhat similar way, and when Cradle is adding in Weapon and Armor augmentation there’s a lot of good potential.
Cradle’s Realfight Combat System is a new way to fight, developed by Mojo Game Studios to bring you an unprecedented level of dynamic control.
Deterministic Combat Animations: Where you aim to attack on your opponent determines what attack your character does. In real sword or melee combat, certain attacks make sense for certain places on an opponents body, while others don’t. If you aim at the head of an opponent with a sword in Cradle, you are given only the attack options that would make sense for striking at someones head with a sword. The same goes for arms, legs, the left and right torso, or any area other area you care to aim. Because these choices vary by weapon, but are the same from enemy to enemy, this system is easy to learn and intuitive to use. Simply by aiming and clicking the left or right mouse button, you are able to choose in real time where and how you will strike.
Order Determinism: Where you last struck has an effect on how your next attack will play out. In real sword and melee combat, some strikes flow from one to the next, rather than returning to guard between attacks. We wanted to capture this flow from one blow to the next in our Realfight Combat. In Cradle, if you have a sword and want to do a slash right at the torso of an opponent, followed directly by a slash left, simply aim at the right torso and click the right mouse button, then aim at the left torso and click the left mouse button. The result is a continuous slash to the right and back from the left. This system adds fluidity and reactivity to our combat.
Weapons and Weapon Weight: Weapons in Cradle are designed with specific strengths and weaknesses in combat, and each unique to their specific character class. Not all weapons are created equal, and not all attacks can be blocked. A heavy mace couldn’t be blocked by a small dagger, and a hit from a short sword would hardly be noticed when blocked by a heavy or large shield. The weight and type of weapon being blocked, as well as weight of the weapon or shield doing the blocking determines how much or little the player blocking or being blocked will be affected. When should I block, and when should I dodge? In Cradle this is a real decision.
Proximity Determinism: When within a certain distance of an opponent, swinging with your weapon becomes unfeasible, not to mention it becomes impossible to accurately aim. This is where proximity determinism comes in. When too close to an opponent to swing their weapon, instead of their normal attack, the player will push off of their opponent and create space so as to become effective again with their weapons. These push offs vary in type and effect depending on where the player is aiming and what weapon they have equipped.
It’ll no doubt take getting used to, but looking at the core mechanics of gaming, tweaking them, and using them to better suit your goals is a great way to innovate. The team has clearly put a ton of work and thought into this core mechanic, and it could be a great way to distinguish themselves.
Besides this new take on combat gameplay, Cradle is also offering up a new universe (something that always draws me in), which seems rich and suitably dense for a fantasy setting, full of lost civilizations, angry gods, and forgotten magics. Like I said, I’m a sucker for this kind of thing, but it’s easy to see that Mojo Game Studios has a vision, a plan, and goal. They want to create the world of Anora, breath life into the five gods, and then lay out a path for you, the Exile. World building gets me excited, but world-building plus gameplay innovation really grabs my interest.
At time of writing, Cradle as 19 Days left to fund its goal of $350,000. They are currently at just over $70,000 dollar pledged by about 1,500 backers, putting them at 20% of their goal. If you are interested in contributing to the Cradle Kickstarter, head to their Kickstarter Page.