Early Access games are a dime a dozen these days! There was once a time when games came out in relatively complete condition before developers charged you for them and blah blah blah. Let’s skip the old man shtick for once: Early Access is here, it’s too lucrative to leave, so we might as well get used to it. Let’s embrace modernity and check out Leap of Fate, a recent Early Access release that shows promise.
At its most basic, Leap of Fate is a twin-stick arena shooter. You’ve got your basic energy wave attack, your more powerful Glyph attack and your quick dash to escape from bad situations. Your goal in most levels is to clear out all the baddies without getting cleared out yourself; everything but your basic attack has limited uses, so the game’s all about resource management to ensure that you don’t get overwhelmed.
The game’s framing device helps shake the arena shooter formula up a little, though. Much like (the coincidentally-named?) Hand of Fate, Leap of Fate presents itself as a card game in a temple called the Crucible of Fate. Each stage is displayed as a card with information about how difficult and lucrative the battle you’re about to face will be. You can choose which stages to complete, eventually leading you down paths toward bonuses and keys. Eventually, you’ll head to the end of a set of stages and move onto the next; after a few of these to warm up, you’ll unlock a more difficult mode which provides further complexity like stage challenges.
There’s some degree of character customization as well, since you’ll be upgrading your mage using several skill trees as you go along. These are largely modifications to your attacks and passive upgrades; every so often you’ll obtain a new Glyph as well, but these aren’t especially common. You definitely feel a sense of increased power as you obtain more upgrades, which is nice. I also enjoyed the little flavor-text blurbs accompanying the nodes on each skill tree, despite the occasional cheesiness.
My favorite aspect of Leap of Fate is the modern-day cyberpunk setting. It feels a bit like a Shadowrun arena shooter and I have very few complaints about that. The character designs reinforce this look; the only playable character that’s currently available, Aeon, would fit right into Shadowrun Returns.
So the gameplay is interesting and the concept is neat. Unfortunately, Leap of Fate is still in a very early stage of development, so it’s definitely hurting for polish. Your attacks don’t seem to properly “connect” with baddies, for instance – there’s a tiny bit of lag between when your spell should hit and when the enemy reacts, which feels very odd. There’s also only one character available at the moment, though three more are promised.
Still, if you believe Early Access promises, then all of this is going to be addressed in the coming weeks. Leap of Fate certainly feels like it has a strong foundation to build on, and I’m anxious to see how everything comes together. If you’re into twin-stick arena shooters and willing to wait while the developers iron out the game’s rough edges, then Leap of Fate may be your ticket to a destructively good time.