Gestalt: Steam and Cinder Preview
During PAX Online, many demos of existing and upcoming indie titles were released to Steam and Gestalt: Steam and Cinder is one of the titles that got pre-alpha gameplay ahead of its release. The game includes classic Final Fantasy storytelling mixed with Metroidvania gameplay, with extremely detailed 2D steampunk art. The art of Gestalt: Steam and Cinder is beautiful, particularly to steampunk fans such as myself, and the orchestral celtic influenced music is superb. The gameplay of Gestalt: Steam and Cinder is top quality, but the game is a piece of art to people who like to play through art pieces such as Ori and the Blind Forest, Limbo, Cuphead, etc. This upcoming indie is expected for release later this year for consoles and PC.
Some aspects of Gestalt: Steam and Cinder are influenced by the best RPG’s of our time such as Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, with lots of named NPC’s to converse with, buildings to explore, and paths to unlock by completing specific tasks. There’s Vincent the barkeep with countless issues, Einherjar the gangster who transforms into the first and only boss of the PAX Online demo, the helpful water guy Renfro who notifies you where you can’t go, Drigs and Eustace the working men, the wealthy but inept Val, and far more. Even the small characters in the demo have character, reminiscent of my favorite RPG’s of the past, and telling a piece of a story successfully in a short demo that leaves me wanting more.
A Beautiful Steampunk Metroidvania RPG to Look Out For
The story of Gestalt: Steam and Cinder is set up during the PAX Online demo in a way that gives you an idea of where things are headed in the game when it officially releases, without giving away too much. The plot and gameplay of this demo combined to leave me extremely interested in seeing where things go beyond the first couple of hours of the game. Steampunk games have seemingly been left on the back burner lately, so this upcoming indie from Metamorphosis Games will satiate the need steampunk fans have for a new title to explore.
When the Gestalt: Steam and Cinder demo began, protagonist Aletheia awakens in a haze from apparently being knocked out when she destroyed a Mega Mess (some huge Steampunk abomination). She was saved and dragged to a clinic by her friend Simon, but she has no memory of what happened, making you wonder what truly happened before the events of the game unfold. Her body was nearly broken according to the doctor known as Jocasta, who seemingly confirms Simon’s story. Simon seems really sympathetic and tried to join Aletheia when she departs on her adventure, which she declines with a casual flirt. The storytelling in this short scene is enough to peak my curiosity, but being able to talk to nearly every other character I meet in the game beyond this point expands on the story enough for me to want this 2D side-scrolling Metroidvania RPG when it releases.
The button prompts in the Gestalt: Steam and Cinder demo suggest that it’s being optimized for controllers rather than mouse and keyboard, but I had no struggles in using my mouse and keyboard to play the demo in comparison to other games being featured at PAX Online. This upcoming indie may be perfect for a gamepad, but keyboard and mouse don’t struggle as a result. It takes a moment to get an idea of what to press instead of A when scrolling through text, but a keybinding tutorial happens shortly after, so everything is clarified after some initial confusion. There are different dialogue options that do in fact result in different responses as RPG fans should expect, this has been tested on the PAX Online demo which will give fans an idea of what to expect from the full release of Gestalt: Steam and Cinder.
Aletheia moves similarly to other Metroidvania characters, with fast attacks that can chain together in combos, and a devastating heavy attack that can leave enemies stunned. She’s able to utilize aerial maneuvers to stun enemies as well, finishing them off from afar with her trusty revolver before the regenerate health. The revolver gauge makes it easy for you to keep track of exactly how many bullets are in the chamber of Aletheia’s gun, adding some western aesthetics to the steampunk setting. Like other Metroidvania titles, enemies will typically follow a specific attack pattern. If you master tackling one specific enemy type, you’ll be able to tackle the same enemy type in the same way moving forward. My best strategy was to use fast attacks on slow enemies and slow attacks on fast enemies, with the exception of dogs that go down with one quick attack and move far too quickly to charge a heavy attack.
These Bosses are No Joke
The boss fight in Gestalt: Steam and Cinder is this demos bread and butter. While most enemies follow set attack patterns, the boss in this PAX Online demo (Einherjar) doesn’t follow a specific attack pattern and will adjust to what you’re doing. If you’re close to him, he’ll unleash heavy attacks, if you’re farther away from him, he’ll lunge at you while knocking projectiles down and making most of the battlefield dangerous. This forces you to think on the fly unlike many simpler Metroidvania bosses, comparable to Mega Man bosses in a title that swaps full futurism for retrofuturism. Leveling up refills your health as you successfully earn XP, resulting in some intense near-death plays rather than a boot back to the nearest save point or relying on a potion. I hate how long it takes to drink a potion in Gestalt: Steam and Cinder. Because of the few moments it takes Aletheia to drink potions, it’s hard to gauge precisely when is too early or too late to heal up and I think it should just be an instant heal like most other Metroidvania titles and RPG’s alike.
Despite all of my deaths to Einherjar, bosses are extremely satisfying to defeat in Gestalt: Steam and Cinder, requiring multiple potions and precision timing to defeat the boss in this PAX Online demo. While the demo was quite easy to complete and was over far more quickly than I hoped it would, it successfully left me wanting more with the great gameplay, storytelling, and art. Certain aspects of the world were locked away due to the pre-alpha nature of this PAX Online demo, and I’m extremely curious to discover all of it when the game launches in full. This demo gives me the perfect amount of content to be interested in a full release, and I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes out of Gestalt: Steam and Cinder when it officially releases.