Putting a mech in your game will typically grab my attention. However, I’ve been burned before on the idea of mechs, but a lack of a true game loop holds back the experience. Luckily, Wolfstride doesn’t seem to have that problem, as this greyscaled mech action fighter is packed with a strategical battle system and plenty of charming characters.
Getting to play an early demo of Wolfstride allowed me to see if this gameplay was as cool as the game’s reveal trailer. Mirroring the style of 90’s anime, we meet Shade, a member of a group of ex-Yakuza members who have found their way competing in a mech battle tournament. The pilot for the demo is Knife Leopard, who comes off intimidating, but is still pretty cool. Each member of the group lends their assistance to the success of their mech Cowboy.
However, one look at your inventory, and you’ll notice that it isn’t equipped with the strongest gear, and this group isn’t the most team-oriented. It’s almost like a broken family, so I’m eager to learn more about them. There is an exploration feature in the game, but that was not present here, so let’s address the mech battles I was able to play.
Fights are turn-based, where your AP allows you to take action. Each action requires some amount of AP, while moving requires MP. There are only a few squares to move to, with bonuses provided for pushing the enemy away from the middle. The act of moving is a little too simplified, and I wish there were more squares to move to, maybe even a second row to set up a chance to avoid incoming attacks.
While the action is kept high, you’re at the mercy of the enemy AI at times and which moves they decide to use. Players can target parts of the mech that will affect their skill set. For example, destroying the head will make targeting specific parts random, or destroying an arm will mean some skills can’t be used. If you destroy the core, you win. However, there’s merit to taking time to take out other parts depending on the opponent’s moveset. Such as when an enemy has a shield on one arm that negates a lot of damage. By taking out that arm, it’s unable to summon the ability.
There’s a layer of strategy here, but I was glad to see that mech upgrades vary enough to not require you to simply buy the most expensive equipment before each fight. Equipment instead has unique stats that could raise one stat but then lower another. Depending on how you play, this will affect how you approach encounters. However, I do hope that there are as many incentives to playing defensively as there are offensively.
One thing I would like to see is a prepare-all option for mech. Right now, you have to travel to each limb after a battle and repair it manually. Also, I’d like to be able to dodge attacks or have equipment that can be your saving grace in a tough fight. Right now, you’ll know by halftime whether you’ll win or lose. I would just like to see a few systems that could very well change the tide of a match if used correctly.
Wolfstride is a very stylish mech brawler. The strategic elements are fun at the core and can only improve across further playtesting. I already like these characters so learning more about them and being able to experience the other modes in the game gives a lot to look forward to.
Wolfstride will have a demo featured in Steam Next Fest from June 16 through June 22.
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