Thursday, December 1

Ronin-Hood Sisters and Steelbound leave U-tad with good foundations to be commercial games

Offered by U-tad

A few years ago, when the first master’s degrees in video game training began in Spain, the projects developed in a university environment were rudimentary and simple, but the quality has been increasing year after year and in the last five years there have been several that have been turned into video games that have been put on sale. We have been able to test the two demos of the games created this year by the students of the Master’s degrees from the Digital Technology Center (U-tad) and we have verified that both are projects that have the necessary foundations to become commercial products thanks to its personality and fun and interesting gameplay.

Ronin-Hood Sisters, girls with skills that take the city by storm

One of these projects is Ronin-Hood Sisters. When the students presented to the press a few months ago what their game was based on, it seemed overly ambitious, a tactical turn-based RPG in the Divinity: Original Sin O Xcom starring a group of magical girls fighting in the streets of Otakyo, a fictional Tokyo, although their appearance was somewhat bland.

After ten months of work, the demo offers exactly what was promised but with a style with more of its own character; the students have been making the genre their own throughout this time. Before starting you can customize the group with suits of an element (water, earth, fire) that condition the attacks of those who wear them. After having reviewed the characteristics of the group, choose a mission from among those available. Even being a demo, it is already verified that its creators want there to be variety, and we have found from missions to destroy a building to others in which you have to score certain points in a limited number of turns or kill the enemies that are in the area, some have a main objective and others secondary. These missions appear on a kind of subway map through which the game progresses.

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Once the mission is complete, it is time to study the rewards obtained and the loot collected, which includes gems that the protagonists can equip to improve their stats and items that will come in handy when enough are gathered.

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Before facing the next mission you have to prepare buying and selling in the store run by a cat, assigning to each member of the group the gems that best fit them and improving the character if they have leveled up. With each level up you can improve different parameters such as movement points or life points or the area in which the attacks are effective.

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Scenarios are randomly generated so that replay is more interesting; and they have different heights, What can be more of a surprise when playing them, it is fun to jump to another floor or stay in a higher position on the same level. The protagonists have character although in the demo you can hardly glimpse all the possibilities, but in the comments with the enemies they already show their personality.

During the tour of each level there are objects that heal when broken -and they must be taken into account since the characters arrive with the same health with which they finished the previous level and others that unleash elemental attacks in the squares that surround them, and in some of the buildings there are also elements that heal or fill cells of different elementals. The type of element that governs each square where an elemental attack has been unleashed is key To avoid getting the unpleasant surprise that one of the characters dies from being in an area with fire, in the same way that you have to take into account when choosing an attack that most of them can cause friendly damage. You have to fine-tune the gameplay and refine things like control, but it’s promising work.

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Steelbound, full cooperation to overcome puzzles and attack

The other project of this year’s students, Steelbound, is a very different proposal, a Cooperative multiplayer in which two characters take turns carrying a cursed sword. This is the basis of the game since the player who carries the sword at all times is the one who attacks directly and the other performs support functions with abilities that launch enemies into the air or, including area attacks, facilitate your partner’s attacks and even return the bombs that enemies drop.

Although there are fighting, and some quite intense, It is above all a puzzle game in which the two players must coordinate to advance in multiple ways: taking turns hitting switches with the sword that are at a distance from each other and that activate platforms, pushing an object with one of the support skills, passing the sword over a cliff so that on its way hit a switch A bar below the life bar indicates the level of corruption that is poisoning the player; When it fills up, it is time to pass the sword to the other character, but it can only be claimed by the player who is supporting at that time, all in Steelbound leads to get along very well with the playmate. It is a very fun idea and with many possibilities that the studio has already explored in the demo, although it has some rhythm problems.

The online game option appears in the menu but we have only been able to test the game on the same computer and managing the sword is fun and creates very satisfying dynamics between the two players. The character who carries the sword (brawler) has two types of attack, blocking and a rapid advance – with the sword in front to attack if there is an enemy – that replaces the jump when going from one platform to another. In the case of the player who does not carry the weapon (support), the buttons are dedicated to fast forward, ability to throw things around him into the air (and that is useful both to raise the partner to another height and to attack the enemies as well as to repel enemy projectiles), the one to move away what is in front and another with the opposite effect.

Steelbound It is set in ancient Babylon, although the demo takes place for the most part in the desert, where you have to kill several enemies, usually concentrated in arenas, and find a way to activate multiple platforms avoiding cliffs, bombs, arrows and poison.

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10 months to create a game as if it were a real development

In recent years, games created by students with the method U-tad have achieved numerous recognitions and some have become commercial video games, What Intruders: Hide & Seek O Windfolk: Sky is Just the Beginning to cite just a couple of examples. In this university center, attached to the Camilo Jos Cela University, the students of the three master’s degrees, in Videogame Programming, in Game Design and in Art and Visual Design of Videogames, are trained in the theory of videogame development for a few months and then form groups with between 15 and 20 students of the three master’s degrees to create their own project in a period of almost 10 months from when they start to think about the idea until they deliver a demo as a Master’s Thesis simulating in the process a real development, with periodic deliveries. Everything related to their projects is decided by the students themselves, with the support of U-tad staff, which includes an academic product that ensures that each delivery arrives on time and with the necessary quality.

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A sample of how promising they are Steelbound and Ronin-Hood Sisters is that they are both semifinalists at this year’s PlayStation Awards. In a few weeks it will be known if they pass to the final phase of the contest and it is very likely that we can see them as candidates for some other award for university projects.

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