Several games have attempted the Groundhog Day format, to varying degrees of success. What tends to be the biggest stumbling block is also what makes the premise so interesting: you’re repeating the same day over and over. From a narrative perspective, this allows the story to focus on the same events from different points of view, or see how minor changes can impact the final outcome. However, it’s a lot harder to incorporate those subtle variations into gameplay, meaning that it’s easy to find yourself going through the same actions ad nauseum, simply to get from one story beat to another.
Slow, stamina-based combat? Check. Enemies that respawn whenever you rest to heal? Check. Experience points that get dropped every time you die? Check. No, this isn’t some ill-promoted sequel to the Dark Souls series; it’s an isometric action game by the name of Immortal Planet.
To say that Immortal Planet draws heavy inspiration from FromSoftware’s famous series is an understatement. For the first half hour or so of the game, every time I asked, “I wonder if it does this thing that Dark Souls does?” the answer was a resounding, “Of course!” Thus, Immortal Planet takes place in a semi-open world backed by a largely vague narrative. As a mysterious Awakewalker, you are tasked with restoring the Cycles of the planet, the lack of which has caused it to turn to a frozen wasteland. In your way stand countless enemies with varying attack patterns, all of which need to be analysed and circumvented to succeed.
Hell Warders made an awful first impression.
Upon loading it up, I was quickly greeted with clipping assets, overflowing lists that disappeared off-screen, a non-functioning character creator, and various spelling and grammar errors in pieces of menu and help text. Oh, I also couldn’t play the game; there were no multiplayer games available for me to join, and the “Create Game” function seemed to be broken.
The second attempt didn’t fare much better. After some of the more egregious issues (namely, the character creator problems and the ability to actually start a game) were sorted out, I was greeted with something that felt tiresome and monotonous more than anything. Enemies spawned in from multiple directions, leaving me quickly overwhelmed and resigned to defeat. It appeared it was going to be a bad time all around.
Thankfully, subsequent patches proved this to not be the case.