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Diablo Meets Dark Souls in Isometric Action-RPG Eitr

Among the indie games Sony showcased during its E3 press conference this week, Eitr was what most stood out to me. Take a quick look at it and it’s easy to assume this is essentially a Dark Souls-style game with an isometric camera. In fact, it’s a better version of that, mixing in elements of Diablo and featuring some wonderful pixel-art graphics and subtle music.

The Dark Souls comparison might seem lazy in light of how frequently it gets thrown around for any game that has some semblance of difficulty, but it’s fully appropriate here. And it’s not one the game’s two-person studio, Eneme Entertainment, shies away from; it brings up Dark Souls when discussing what it set out to make while also citing Diablo and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

In the section of Eitr that I played, I fought my way through a forest area before making my way into a dungeon of sorts. Combat should immediately feel familiar to anyone who’s played a Souls game or Bloodborne; you carefully pick spots to swing away at enemies, ensuring not to exhaust all of your stamina so that you’re able to avoid being attacked yourself. You can do this by blocking (provided you have a shield equipped), dodging, or parrying, the latter of which requires precise timing but leaves enemies vulnerable.

You’re also able to sprint, which is useful as both an offensive and defensive maneuver. It can be used to run away from enemies, and in some cases it’s more useful than dodging, which causes you to slow down for a moment. That can prove to be disastrous in spots, particularly against a boss at the end of my demo who had a large area-of-effect attack that could seemingly only be avoided by running away. Sprinting is also useful for closing the gap between you and an enemy, but doing so drains stamina, so there’s a risk to sprinting into your attacks because doing so can leave you unable to avoid your enemies’.

There are other clear parallels to Dark Souls. You carry a limited number of potions that are used to restore your health, and these can be refilled at campfires you’ll find from time to time, for instance.

But there’s also plenty here aside from the camera angle to distinguish it from Dark Souls. Health potions can be refilled without a campfire by killing enemies. You can only attack left and right, even when using a bow, Golden Axe-style. Skills can be used to infuse your attacks with additional damage (and possibly other things). Upon death, a roulette spins to determines various effects that are cast on you; this might do something negative, like cause you to lose your item, or if you’ve died a number of times in a row, you might receive a buff.

Rather than accumulating experience points, you earn favor, which can be used to increase your level. Alternatively, you can choose to hold on to it for a more powerful boost than a standard level increase. This is particularly intriguing because players can make themselves extremely powerful if they’re willing to risk the possibility of dying and having to grind for more favor.

The most interesting differentiating element is the game’s Diablo-style loot. Enemies will drop weapons, armor, boots, rings, and so on that you’re able to equip. The weapons come in a number of varieties, and you’re able to choose the style that best suits you, be it a two-handed sword, a sword and shield, a sword-and-axe combo, or something else. While item drops were much less common during my session than in Diablo, it was satisfying to be rewarded with these kinds of tools for taking down enemies.

Eitr also impressed me with both its graphics and sound. This is a visually striking game, with a very dark, gorgeous pixel-art aesthetic that feels perfectly suited to this sort of experience. Combat moves are also wonderfully animated in a way that really stands out by being paired with the retro visuals.

In terms of music, there typically isn’t a lot–it’s very subtle most of the time, offering a creepy ambiance as you make your way through an area. When facing a boss, it really kicks in; the one I faced was accompanied by some intense music that inadvertently caused me to become too aggressive.

I walked away from my brief time with Eitr impressed. I do hope that the full game offers enough opportunities for exploration so that it doesn’t feel like you’re traveling down a linear path. Even without that, there are enough elements at work here–including those I didn’t get to see in-depth, like a skill tree and gems with different effects that can be equipped–that make Eitr look promising.

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My name is Sayed Ahmadreza Razian and I am a graduate of the master degree in Artificial intelligence .
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Related topics such as programming, image processing, machine vision, virtual reality, machine learning, data mining, and math are my research interests.

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