There is something appealing about taking on huge creatures. Overcoming the odds and downing a beast much larger than yourself. This is what Extinction is all about, an action-RPG or hack 'n' slash game where you'll fight 150 ft ogres.
This is a departure for Iron Galaxy Studios, a team perhaps best known for their efforts in the fighting genre with Killer Instinct (Season Two and Three) and Divekick, but who have largely been focused on helping out other studios with their work and porting games over to new platforms. Extinction is an action-adventure, an original IP, and it is clear that it is a step up in terms of ambition for the studio.
Extinction rests on a few core pillars. Firstly, the fiction that puts the player in a lopsided situation against giant creatures looking not only to smash them but also decimate humanity. Secondly, there is lots of destruction going on with the giant ogres tearing down walls and buildings. Thirdly, you're moving incredibly fast, using your whip to zip yourself from ledge to ledge. The combination of these core pillars makes for an exciting concept that has enough unique elements to stand out on its own.
"One of the big things is the traversal," says executive producer Derek Neal. "The way that you move around the environment and the way that you can chain all of those things together."
The player steps into the shoes of Avil, one of the last remaining Sentinels of mankind (basically guardians who have kept us safe in the past), who has to step up as the Ravenii arrive in wave after wave to try and lay waste to our civilisation.
"Avil has a lot of options for moving around. He can run horizontally, vertically along walls. He can pull himself around the environment with his whip. He can air dash through the sky. He can go floating on things. He can bounce off of awnings, tree branches and things like that. Run off of ramps and launch himself into the sky. And all these things can be recombined. Any one of those things is kind of intuitive and fairly easy to do if you just pick it up. But the hard part is recombining them all together into one big fluid motion."
Seeing the game in motion certainly leaves you with the impression that there's a large skill gap there between a player who's just starting out and one who has honed their skills and knows the layout of the map. However, this momentum is also expressed through an in-game mechanic where you need to fill a meter in order to pull off the most devastating moves, if you make a mistake you'll need to build up that meter anew.
While Avil is the main character it is difficult to argue with the fact that the ogres are the stars of the game. While we were only shown some early basic designs, wearing two different kinds of armour, some will also come with weapons and we expect more ways in which the ogres distinguish themselves and force alternative tactics on the player.
"The ogres are very different one to the next. They have different weapons, armour, skills, abilities, priorities on things that they're focusing on in the game. In the demo, for example, we have one that has wood armour, which is good for running on cause it has flat sides and things like that. It's also very easy to destroy, so it's kind of a low-level armour. It's easy to traverse across and it's also not that protective. But then there's also one with gold armour. The gold armour is not all good for running on because it's very intricate and ornate, so there's not a lot of flat surfaces that Avil can run across. It's also very difficult to take off, because it has buckles all over it and you have to find these tiny buckles and unlatch them in order to actually take off that piece of armour."
Ultimately it's all about cutting the ogre's head off (as other limbs regenerate), so for an ogre with gold armour you may want to use an alternative strategy (maybe using your whip for traversal or the environment, rather than cutting off its legs to be able to climb it) as that will likely be faster. Meanwhile, you have multiple objectives that range from saving civilians, protecting buildings, and taking down ogres. Balancing these objectives and making tough choices is part of the experience.
On top of the campaign mode there are going to be side missions, daily challenges, custom battle mode, and perhaps most intriguing there's something called the Extinction mode, which Neal described as "our endless horde mode". Ogres and minions will attack you relentlessly and you have to try and hold out and defend what you're protecting for as long as you can.
Large enemies aren't new to video games, but the way Iron Galaxy goes about it feels new and offers an interesting twist on the concept of battling over-sized enemies.
Extinction takes a few risks and does something different, although it did look a little rough in places during the E3 demo we witnessed. Not surprising perhaps given there's plenty of time left in development and the game is currently pre-alpha. But with the sort of traversal available for the player in Extinction and the concept of climbing up on giant creatures, the mechanics and must feel smooth, responsive, and intuitive. Whether Iron Galaxy gets things to that point or not remains to be seen, but the concept itself is intriguing and shows promise.