A Quirky Take on Turn-Based Strategy

The Behemoth makes games that are infamous for challenging players' reflexes. But the next game from the indie dev studio slows things down a bit, putting the emphasis on planning instead of speed.

Alien Hominid had players jumping and shooting through a brutally tough 2D side-scroller. Castle Crashers' co-op brawling put a premium on fast combo input and quick button-mashing. Battleblock Theater threw increasing difficult platforming feats where folks would throw other folks to their occasional deaths. But Game 4 is going to be different.

Game 4, still in search of a proper name, made its debut at PAX Prime last week. It's a turn-based co-op strategy/adventure hybrid that's bound for the Xbox One and Steam some time in the future. It's set in a universe where the modern-day and the medieval get mashed up with each other, after a space bear crashes into a planet and ruins everything. "We like to take genres and simplify them," artist Dan Paladin told me last week. He elaborated that the goal of Game 4 is to streamline the typical turn-based strategy template into something faster.

The first character players will control is Horatio, a stout family man whose wife and kids get slaughtered by marauders. Game 4's playfield is a hexagonal grid where the movement and attack systems are the same. So once Paladin aimed Horatio at an enemy, the potbellied hero attacked him automatically. Two more party members joined Paladin's game, armed with skills that offer up different strategic options. Pipstrella carries a mace that does significant damage up close, while cyclops Yosef wields throwing axes for ranged attacks. Players will only be able to heal heir parties on te world map and not in battle, but leveling up in the middle of a fight will restore health to full strength.

Enchanted green space-bear blood will fall in the game, wreaking havoc with the layout of towns and villages in the overworld map and occasionally damaging friends and foes on the battlefield. Random battles can be avoided entirely on the overworld map, too. And despite the desire to streamline things, Game 4 will still have staple features like item weight. Carrying something too heavy will lessen the force of an attack. Game 4 will also have an arena where you'll be able to level up. You'll also be able to team up with friends or hire mercenaries to round out your ranks in Game 4's single player, two-player co-op or 2v2 play.

Though it starts off with a grim event in a broken world, Game 4 seems chock full of the offbeat humor of The Behemoth's other games. Will Stamper, the voice of the hilarious unreliable narrator of Battleblock Theater, returns for Game 4. Because the overworld will be randomly generated, players will need to drop breadcrumbs to figure out where they've been before. Those breadcrumbs come in the form of poop. The quirkiness even extends to explaining classic turn-based tropes, by saying that time and space are fractured after the space bear hit. It's why everyone needs to take turns moving around in little six-sided frames. Paladin says that The Behemoth isn't ready to commit to a timeframe for Game 4 yet. Whenever it comes out, it'll be a very different offering from what The Behemoth's done before.