Nier developer Cavia and Square Enix today have announced their newest I.P, code-named Catacombs, according to Siliconera.
Catacombs follows the story of four survivors from a cataclysmic event occurring in the museum of Natural History. There to witness a new artifact in the Museums’ collection, which begins to emit a flash of light that brings forth monsters that begin to kill the museum patrons savagely, and our four heroes are each imbued with a purple light that renders them unconscious. When they awaken, they find themselves able to wield magical powers and weapons, so they are tasked with finding a way out of the museum after finding safety in the museums dark, labyrinthine basement.
Upon first glance, Catacombs seems like a Left 4 Dead- style action game, four player co-op, using guns to kill monsters and other creatures as you find a way out of the Museum, four playable characters, and so forth. However, there are some twists to this genre that give off an impression that reminds me of Borderlands more as a co-op Role Playing Game. For starters, the level design is non-linear, using randomly generated dungeons for our quartet of heroes to travel through. Also thrown into the mix is the use of magical powers based on a “ring” system. The rings come with a set of magical charges, so using them wisely to augment your abilities becomes a strategic element in the game. The rings also have different functions, from protecting allies to creating decoys for enemies to attack, so it is not just a typical “fireball” style of magic were seeing here either.
Speaking of magic, the weapons in the game also change depending on the characters level and proficiency with them. A shotgun in-game, for example would eventually grow arms and help increase the width of your shotgun blasts in-game, while a magnum in the shape of a dragon would grow wings and give you explosive ammunition. Apparently, there are eight levels to be gained for each weapon you find as well, so maximizing the weapon proficiency in-game becomes a valuable element to take down tougher enemies as time goes on.
As for the four heroes, they include Carlos, a Bodega owner who dreams of becoming an actor, Matt, a 40-something executive who serves as “comic relief”, Gina, a college student and de-facto leader of the group, and Nguyen, a high school student whose family was born in Vietnam. The cast alone has that sort of dynamic feel to them that we saw in Dead Island and Borderlands, so hopefully each character also has their own skills and abilities to unlock while we play the game as well. I can see some ideas and archetypes played with from a mechanics standpoint here.
According to Siliconera, Catacombs is a game that is near completion, so much so that Square Enix almost showcased the game last year at E3, 2011, but decided against it. Apparently, Square Enix is on the fence regarding completing and releasing the game at this point, which for me feels like a waste because there is potential in what Catacombs is offering. Since it is cut from the same cloth as a few other co-op RPGs, and offer’s its own unique twists on the genre, I would argue it is a crime to let it rot in development hell like other possible game changers, such as This is Vegas, B.C, and Starcaft: Ghost. It doesn’t have to be brilliant, it just has to be adequate at what it does, and Catacombs looks like a solid I.P from both Square Enix and Cavia to me.
Hopefully this is not the last we hear of it, but only time will tell on that. Until then, enjoy the images and leave your comments on what you think below.
Update: Considering Cavia has shut its doors for good after Nier was finished, many are now considering the game to be cancelled for good. Unfortunately, Siliconera did not give that impression when discussing the game in its news post, but all the same, it is not looking good for Catacombs as a title at the moment because of the lack of exposure or press Square Enix is giving it.
Of course, if Square does decide to release the title, then the news would change overnight. I guess we shall see if Catacombs does see the light of day any time soon.