XBF Spotlight: Scalebound
Scalebound is the latest game from Platinum Games and is directed by Hideki Kamiya the man behind Resident Evil, Devil May Cry & Bayonetta. Due for release late 2016 exclusively for Xbox One Scalebound tells the story of Loner Drew and the Fire Breathing badass Dragon Thuban. Scalebound is a 3rd person action, RPG game in the spirit of DMC and Bayonetta but of course with a mahoosive dragon to fight alongside you.
You play as Drew a loner with an attitude problem, some terrible hair, big red headphones and a seriously cool dragon arm. Thuban is AI controlled throughout but does except commands such as wreck this, kill that and go there exactly what you expect. When not following orders he’s happy to stomp about and smash pretty much everything to death but he’s far from invincible and as he’s the last of his kind protecting him is key to the game. The relationship between Drew and Thuban is clearly not all roses and in the gameplay shown off so far it’s pretty clear there is an air of reluctance about their partnership which is understandable when you realise Drew listens to fucking Dubstep! The pair frequently bicker and argue with each other adding an element of uncertainty to their relationship dynamic but the bond between the two is at the core of the game. That bond was forced after Drew was pulled into the parallel world know as Draconis.
Your mission is to save Draconis from destruction at the hands of powerful and mysterious enemies that also want to destroy earth and numerous other words. Draconis is a stunning, lush world that is both at times photo realistic but also a wonderful, vivid fantasy world. At it’s heart is a giant mushroom that emanates pulse energy that forms every life form on the world and shapes it’s landscape. The art style on display is a beautiful mix of realistic and fantasy elements that although alien are still very accessible for less experienced players that bodes well for the wider gameplay. During development of the game the developers wanted to create a fantastic world full of wonderful vistas and huge landscapes for players to explore but eventually settled on something no less beautiful but a little more familiar and grounded. This approach is visible in the wider game direction as a whole which as a more casual player of these games i really appreciate. Games like Bayonetta were full on hardcore games that many including myself struggled to get to grips with.
Character models are already stunning in the Alpha footage Microsoft have shown off and the environments are beautiful and beg to be explored. Perhaps most impressive of all is Thuban who is every bit the bad-ass fire breathing dragon we all dreamed of having as kids. He is enormous, devastatingly powerful but not invincible & his death means game over for you as well. This symbiotic relationship is aimed at provoking not only a sense of companionship with Thuban but also one of protection which considering he is fuck off dragon is quite an achievement. It would be easy to have Thuban as the lumbering, gigantic empty vessel type companion but he has his own personality and his own reasons for fighting.
If you have played Bayonetta or Devil May Cry the typical close\far combat will be instantly familiar but whilst the earlier Hideki Kamiya games were often aimed at the hardcore gamer market for those seeking extreme challenges Scalebound attempts to provide depth and accessibility. Combat is extremely fluid even at this early stage and Drew is clearly a very capable fighter who can equip either a sword for close range attacks or a Bow for killing enemies from a distance. In a neat twist these weapons will degrade over time before eventually wearing out and becoming unusable but fear not, new weapons can be collected throughout the game. Drew has a special ability to transform into a half dragon form and become pretty much un-killable as well as dishing out more damage to his enemies. The two can fight separately targeting different groups of enemies or when confronted by the numerous boss type creatures they can combine their attacks and using Drew’s Dragon Arm to reveal weaknesses and heal Thuban.
In typical RPG fare expect a full skill tree for upgrading both Drew and Thuban with skill points awarded for killing enemies, combos, healing Thuban and generally kicking all kinds of ass throughout the game. I’ve not seen the various upgrades yet but expect the staple RPG types including Health, Damage and Special ability upgrades for both Drew and Thuban. Style will likely feature quite heavily as this is a hallmark of Platinum games recent titles. To further the RPG roots each strike carries with it a damage indicator above the targeted enemies and there is an inventory type system. Weapon upgrades look likely as well or at least the ability to add certain elements to them as in the picture above it’s clear there are different types of arrows for the Bow including Explosive Arrows. It’s these RPG elements that can help Scalebound stand out and with a deep skill tree that sense of continuously improving your character and Thuban will ensure continued progress.
Scalebound is a perfect example of the type of game only possible on this generation of console the mixture of huge outdoor vistas with enormous creatures to face off against simply wasn’t possible before. The level of detail is breathtaking not just in the character models but the grass, the skybox, the stunning particle system and even the fire that seems to envelop targets and turn them to ash. It’s rare that a game grabs attention and captures your imagination quite like Scalebound has and to think there is another year of development time between now and it’s launch window and it’s clear that Platinum games and Microsoft have a sure fire smash hit on their hands.
Roll on Winter 2016