I’ve created a game using Unreal Engine 5! It’s titled ‘Super 19th Century Philosophers’ - a top-down beat’em-up boasting tight combat mechanics. The game centers around 19th Century Philosophers embroiled in fierce battles for supremacy, delving into the very depths of understanding the human condition.
Honestly, I developed it mainly for my own enjoyment, just a bit of fun on the side. It’s free, and you can grab it HERE.
My aim was to make a game with a challenging combat system that’s hard to master yet provides that delightful rush of flow during execution. You know, that ultra-smooth feeling when you string together a massive combo flawlessly.
The concept of philosophers settling supremacy through combat might sound a tad silly, but it makes me chuckle. Here is the one and only Karl Marx, gracefully slicing through foes:
Let me explain what I set out to achieve and where this whole idea springs from. I hope this will be entertaining for both of us.
Before we get into the game mechanics, let me talk about what inspired me. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of my free time playing as Nagoryuki in Guilty Gear Strive, and man, his mechanics are fun.
He’s this big, chunky character with not-so-great movement, but the cool thing is, you can cancel into one of his special moves pretty much anytime. That means you can get all creative and pull off some awesome, long combos that really pack a punch.
And that’s not all, he’s got this unique thing called the blood rage meter. Each special move fills it up, but normal attacks drain it. At first, it looks like a power-up since it extends the range of his normal attacks. But if you go over the limit, he goes “pop”, and you go into severly disadvantaged state for next next few seconds. Half of your life bar will be drained and you can’t use almost any special moves.
Playing as Nagoryuki means two things:
- Awesome kit of options for expression, that allows you to go wild while you got the meter.
- You have to constantly keep an eye on that meter, trying not to let it hit the limit and screw you over when you pop. It’s like walking a tightrope.
I wanted to replicate this balancing act, where you are increadibly powerful, as long as you mind your resources and not overextend.
So here’s ‘The Super 19th Century Philosophers’ game idea - it’s a top-down, vampire-survivor style game, where the key is to maintain that flow state, the sweet spot where you’re keeping the combo going and taking calculated risks to get some awesome rewards, with a limited resource that fuels the movement and high-damaging special moves.
Playing vampire survival games taught me a valuable lesson: keeping a constant stream of enemies in the game environment is all it takes to create engaging gameplay.
Here’s the basic concept: you’ve to keep that combo going by using your movement and special moves, but you’ve got to be careful with your “charge” meter. If you go all out and extend the combo too much, you’ll run out of charge, get smacked, and end up losing both your combo and health. But here’s the cool part - the longer you keep that combo alive, the more experience you rack up from a single opponent, which means more and better tools at your disposal.
The rules of charge meter are:
- Normal hits that land add to your charge meter.
- Special moves and the dash burns your charge meter.
- Getting hit adds to your meter, sometimes it’s the only way of getting out of a stun-lock.
The dash move is the key move that binds it all. You can cancel into it from any state, like even when you’re in recovery after hitting or getting hit. Plus, you can cancel from the dash into any other move, be it another dash or an attack. This lets you pull off some crazy extended combos way beyond the basic 4 hits. Like this:
On top of this, you are invincible while dashing. The blue outline signifies the state of invincibility. It’s perfect way of avoiding enemy attacks, which are telegraphed to the point of obviousness. This means, any danger is avoidable as long as you have charge meter.
So, it’s all about finding that perfect balance between pushing your limits to keep the combo alive and not going overboard and getting punished. Trust me, it’s super fun when you get the hang of it!
Here’s something completely different - the slo-mo finisher that kicks-in if yor are disposing the last enemy around. I love it:
And here is a longer gameplay with audio:
That’s it. I hope someone will find the game enjoyable, I would like to thanks my nephew, Kacper, for making the music, and my wife and my son for patience when I was coding the game over many evenings. I probably won’t continue the developement of this game, the overlap between beat’em up fans and people that like a thin veneer of philosophy theme is not going to be large. I will probably take some of the gameplay and learning into the next one.