‘Deadhaus Sonata’ Releases Gameplay Teaser
- Play as the undead against the living.
- Free-to-play action-RPG.
- Heavy focus on narrative and asymmetrical gameplay.
If you feel that trailer conveyed little information between the blaring synthetic horns and split-second scene cuts, don’t worry, I’m going to break it down for you… but first, the game itself.
Deadhaus Sonata is a free-to-play cooperative action-RPG under development from the relatively new Apocalypse Studios. Players may choose between seven unique undead classes, including vampires, banshees, wraiths, revenants, liches, and ghouls in a war against the living. Camera perspective has been likened to Bloodborne or Warframe, while gameplay mechanics were compared to Diablo or Path of Exile.
One of the core design pillars for Deadhaus Sonata is asymmetrical gameplay. The developers cited the board game Cthulhu Wars as a source of inspiration for competently executed asymmetrical gameplay, something which many games struggle to implement. In a welcome package, it was said that playing different classes should almost feel like “playing an entirely new game.”
Twitch integration is currently under development, though the details have not yet been revealed, but perhaps the most exciting feature of Deadhaus Sonata is its focus on narrative-driven game design. “We think stories are really important,” said Denis Dyack, CEO of Apocalypse Studios and writer/producer of Blood Omen and Eternal Darkness. That’s right. Read the bold part of that previous sentence again, slowly. That man is creating a gothic horror action-RPG that you can play with your friends. I don’t care if the current trailer looks like a PlayStation 2 game–Denis Dyack’s involvement makes this game worth keeping an eye on.
Dyack claimed that the decision to go free-to-play came from wanting players to be able to explore and play the game before spending any money. Though, in today’s age of YouTube content creators and Twitch streamers, getting a feel for gameplay before purchasing is a very simple process. It’s more likely that there were funding considerations behind the decision, especially considering the graphical quality of the trailer above. Still, Dyack promised that the monetization would be ethical, and involve no pay-to-win dynamics.
Now, as for the trailer itself… keep in mind that this is early in development, so both the graphical quality and overall lighting could still be sharpened and darkened. What took place as a fragmented series of disorienting images, I will now interpret for you with my lifelong love of the undead.
First, there is gothic architecture, cathedrals, spires, wrought iron gates, twisted sculptures. There are gnarled trees, gravestones, and outdoor candles on a bridge that some very unfortunate soul must keep lit. Then, just before the inexplicable whispering gives way to the beefed up Inception trumpets, we catch a tiny glimpse at three of the classes.
This is the revenant. I’d bet money on it. Note the medieval armor, chain and plate, and the battle axe. Also note the purple color scheme in the ectoplasm around his skull. Remember that for later.
This is the Lich. It has to be. It is very clearly an undead caster with its robes, staff, and spellbook. The lich is does not appear for the rest of the trailer, but do notice how the base of his staff is made of interconnected femurs.
Next we have the vampire, of this I am most certain. High cheekbones, red and black color scheme, swept back hair, pointed ears. He and the revenant provide the nauseatingly abrupt gameplay segments that follow, and by looking at their UIs, we can glean more information from the game.
I chose this screenshot, blurry as it is, for two reasons. For one, we can see three critical pieces of the UI. In the upper left corner, there are two bars, the topmost being health, and the one below it relating to special abilities. In the bottom, there are five abilities. A vampiric dash assigned to Q, a ranged ability to feed on blood set to E, a fiery icon on F, a mysterious heart on R, and lastly, a bat’s wing set to TAB. In the bottom right corner is a rudimentary menu, showing options that seem to indicate messages (the letter), microtransactions (the coins), gear (the shield), quest journal (the book), and inventory (the backpack). And finally, if you can tell through the blurriness, the vampire is not wielding the curved sword from his intro in this screenshot. Instead, he is holding two axes, indicating various weapon loadouts.
This similarly blurry (let’s face it, the whole trailer is blurry when in motion) screenshot shows the revenant in action. Of interest here is that his ability resource bar, seen in the top left, is always gray, as opposed to the vampire’s red. His abilities themselves are all purple. Remember that glowing purple head? The icons, whatever they represent, are a grasping claw on Q, a poleaxe on E, a skull on F, a flurry of fists on R, and an armored silhouette on TAB. Like the vampire, the revenant here is wielding a different weapon than in his less-than-a-second-long intro.
The placement of these ability keys of course frees up movement for WASD. Whether they are cooldown or resource driven abilities (perhaps it varies per class) is unknown. But I suspect that the rightmost ability for both classes, the one set to TAB, is something like their “ultimate skill.” You’ll see what I mean in the pic below.
The vampire and the revenant do seem to play differently, based on what I could wrench free of the chaos. The vampire is blindingly fast and agile, dashing, whirling, slicing, and feeding at preternatural speed. His weapons, likewise, are swift and sharp. The revenant, on the other hand, is more of a powerhouse. He is seen grabbing unfortunate humans and smashing them, either with his fists, or by flying them into the air and straight back down again. He wields two-handed weapons that cleave through multiple opponents.
And look what we have here at the very end of the trailer… a random giant bat. Or maybe not so random after all, if you’ll recall the TAB ability of the vampire. I suspect it’s a transformation, an ultimate ability.
There is not yet a release date for Deadhaus Sonata, but you can follow Apocalypse Studios on YouTube, Discord, and their official website. They’ve expressed a strong desire to build this game with the help of community feedback, so if you like what you see, but have some criticisms, they do genuinely seem to want to hear.
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