I am, Quite Literally In Awe Of Heart Forth, AliciaFiled inside: Games
The growing advent of crowdfunded products has produced its share of unique and intriguing products, especially in the gaming space. And while I’ve spoken on some cool-looking projects in the past, I can safely say that Heart Forth, Alicia, by Mexican filmmaker Alonso Martin is one of the most impressive looking games I’ve seen in recent memory.
I grew up in the golden age of 32-bit gaming: Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy VI, Super Mario RPG, Zelda: A Link to the Past, and really any of the SNES-era RPG greats. Alonso, like myself, was a child of the late 80’s, growing up in the same age where gaming was coming in to its own, garnering an identity that would define a decade of gaming.
Heart Forth, Alicia is a powerful love letter to those times, embodying the aesthetic and medium of the age, while pushing and innovating it in ways to keep it relevant and appealing to gamers today.
The game is described as a “90’s-inspired Metroidvania RPG about a young wizard on her journey to stop a Spirit from consuming her homeland.”
Hundreds of years ago, a star crashed down from the skies and the world as it was known was irrevocably altered. Most of the land disappeared beneath a gaping void, leaving only two islands to remain. On one of this islands is a small village of wizards, Brenia. In an attempt to forge a better place for themselves, the wizards took the power of the island for themselves, leading the great Spirit of Light, Ethëlian, to curse the wizards never to have children again.
Upon coming of age, every wizard undergoes a trial, and the game starts with the trial of the last two remaining wizards: Alicia and Höstra. The ceremony is stopped suddenly when one of the wizards is slain (rather violently) by Ethëlian. The two young wizards flee in search of help, but Höstra comes under the Spirit’s thrall, and Alicia is thrown from the side of the island, awakening in a strange and ancient land: the Old World, thought lost after that violent incident centuries ago.
Heart Forth, Alicia takes an intriguing take on storytelling—after all, many of the classics the game is an ode to are lauded for having some of the best stories in the gaming canon—but rather than including only their set of characters and lore in-game, but also present a whole other story alongside the game presented through live-action footage: that of the Woman.
Thus far, it is unclear how the Woman will affect the storyline. Alonso claims that the player’s interpretation of the Woman’s story will have an impact on the world of Alicia and the others.
The game is, first and foremost, a Metroidvania, the gameplay is supposed to be the real star, with the story supplementing and supporting it.
Alicia is a warrior wizard. While she can sling an impressive repertoire of spells, she also wields an enchanted whip, the Wizard’s Lace. The combat looks very reminiscent of the 2d Castlevania titles, and radiates the spirit of Secret of Mana. The Lace can be upgraded throughout the game to deliver formidable damage, enhance its range, or alter its enchantments to other, hitherto unmentioned effect.
Since magic is such a large part of wizard’s living, Alicia’s spells will likewise be plentiful, serving not only as implements of war, but also to solve puzzles and navigate the environment. Spells will be impressive and diverse, and also upgradeable—though it sounds as though the process will be deliciously difficult.
You’re also supported by a plethora of fairy companions that offer their skills to Alicia throughout her journey. They can dish out damage, grab difficult-to-reach items, shield Alicia, and any number of other things.
The game carries a thick framework of RPG systems to support this combat. The goal from the start was to give players a level of customization and control that one could get really lost in. The leveling systems purports to provide a scaling challenge as the game progresses. They’ve promised a metric buttload of loot, and looking at the inventory screenshot they’ve provided seems to support the claim so far: there are three slots for accessories, but what looks like 19 slot’s worth of equipment (it is unclear whether equipment is simply rarer and all available equipment is displayed there, or if there are just a nigh-ridiculous number of available slots, I’m leaning toward the former).
There are plenty of player stats to be tweaked, and loads of loot to gather throughout the game, enough to keep even the most intense players busy.
This all takes place in a vast and detailed world that is, if I may say so myself, gorgeous. The Valley below the clouds has, to be frank, seen some shit since the lands crumbled. Winding caves, treacherous forests, vast deserts, and even bustling cities thought lost occupy an interconnected world that is filled with dangerous dungeons and hidden, powerful items.
The people in the world are often just as dangerous as the many denizens, as well. These are all rich characters, steeped in a lore that is supposedly filled with fully-fledged characters—some of which you never even meet or see. The world is meant to feel real in that regard, there is a whole history at play here, and while you’ve a part to play, other aspects of it continue on without your direct input.
The inhabitants of the Valley will, of course, need your assistance, as well. Loads of sidequests are planned in a variety of styles. There will be minigames, quests, sad quests, happy quests, and challenges to not only breathe life into the world, but to strengthen your character, as well.
The game was asking for $60,000 dollars to get funded, but is rapidly nearing three times that, obliterating an impressive number of stretch goals: the game was originally planned for PC, but is now slated for PS4 and PS Vita, has a New Game+ mode included, special challenges, OSX and Linux support, a great composer, an entire secret zone, and is just a few thousand dollars shy of doing a soundtrack that features real instruments.
The backer rewards look interesting, and all, but to be honest I’d back this one even if there were no incentive to do so. Just knowing I’d done my part to make sure this game was the best game it could be would be enough. Do yourself the same favor and give it a look-see.
Heart Forth, Alicia has 8 days to go on its Kickstarter campaign. The estimated date so far looks like it might be coming in May next year, plenty of time to watch this grow into something truly amazing.