The Trese Brothers are at it again with their latest Kickstarter project – Cyber Knights: Flashpoint. Cyber Knights is a turn-based squad tactics game for PC and Mobile which was successfully funded on Kickstarter. The game allows players to enter the dystopian cyberpunk future of 2231 as they command a company of shadowy mercenaries.
Cyber Knights is a cyberpunk X-COM
According to their Kickstarter page, Cyber Knights contains a world full of consequential story choices and character development. This is mixed together with rich game-play. The game combines tactical elements of stealth, tense combat with strategic elements of base building, contact management and squad customization. The game seems like a mix between Shadowrun and X-COM which sounds awesome.
In Cyber Knights, both your tactical build options and your stylistic choices are extensive. At the strategic level, you’re building a multi-disciplinary team, so you’ll be hiring, and equipping specialists. Specialist categories include Gunslingers, Hackers, Cyberswords, Stalkers and more.
Customization in Cyber Knights Flashpoint
Every character starts with a history comprised of background traits and a backstory job. This defines where they came from and what skills they brought to their new life beyond the law. As your characters progress, you’ll train them in one or more new jobs to gain additional skills and talents.
In addition, body modification and cybernetic implants are basic requirements for staying ahead of your competition in 2231. Many characters will come with some cybernetic implants from their backstory. Your breacher might have a cheap lung filtration system installed while your ex-corp engineer might have a Matlink polymath implant.
As the player installs new implants, they will gain access to abilities, senses and potential. In Cyber Knights Flashpoint, cybernetics will provide a mix of advantages and disadvantages — faster, stronger, tougher, slower, twitchier, etc. Cyberware can provide both extra-sensory bonuses as well as active abilities which you can use to gain a temporary tactical advantage. It can harden your skin’s nanoshell or blast out a wave of full-spectrum jamming against a security sensor. Cyberware won’t come free however, it is expensive, increases the risk of wounds, and implants have drawbacks paired with advantages.
Finally, you’ll take meticulous care with your team’s gear load-outs. The player can design different configurations of weapons, armor and gear that they take into different types of mission environments. You’ll have countless build options with your weapon choices, firing modes, weapon mods, talents and cybernetic abilities.
Storytelling in Cyber Knights Flashpoint
For personal stories, a team member may start their own story arc. They might have an unexpected run-in with their past and ask for help. They might have a family member in distress. These personal stories will drive evolution in your characters and their relationships. They are likely to either forge or break the bonds of loyalty. When the daughter of your friend Zero shows up at your Safehouse asking to join the team, will you comply?
In contact stories, your shadowy employers are always dragging you into their business and their trouble. It is the nature of your work in the criminal underworld to go beyond “need to know”. At every turn, your choices have consequences and earn you allies and enemies.
During events, the New Boston Zone is always in motion and these city-wide events will change the balance of power. Depending on your choices, you may or may not be involved in causing some of these events. Either way, they will have a wide effect on the game. The declaration of martial law in Ward 7 cuts off military supplies and ratchets up security. But it can spawn a story as your sniper sees an opportunity for revenge. This is because martial law has forced the lieutenant onto the streets. Of course, your sniper needs your help with his vendetta.
These stories and their threaded interactions create a unique narrative for every game, every Knight and every team.
Experience in the genre
The Trese Brothers have been developing quality games for nearly a decade. They have released quality mobile titles such as Templar Battleforce, Star Traders, Age of Pirates and Heroes of Steel. They are premium games (one time payment) but have free demo versions available.
However, Cyber Knights: Flashpoint is their first 3-D game which is a big transition for the team. Flashpoint will be abandoning the tile based movement of their previous games as explained by Andrew Trese reported by rockpapershotgun.
“We have a lot of experience building tile-based combat games, where we approximate combat mechanics like grenades into tiles. The grid-less nature of Cyber Knights lets us implement these combat features in a much more natural fashion.”
He gives examples – grenade damage decreases depending on the target’s distance in meters from the detonation point; targets you can hit with a full auto burst from your weapon are determined by the field of fire angle. Cory Trese says that the most important thing to them is to balance the simulation elements with combat.
“Gridless movement and combat system is going to let us do some really cool stuff. We’re using an action-point pool system to give the player granular control on the battlefield. The player has a wide range of options including talents, cybernetic abilities and load-out items. While we’re not using hardcore simulation features like exhaustion and bleeding, we have a detailed cover, recoil and visibility systems.”
In regards to the strategic layer, XCOM players will feel comfortable in the Safehouse. The Safehouse is multi-room base where team members are completing long-term strategic tasks. The tasks can be things like crafting, modding weapons or undergoing cybernetic surgery.
Role playing in Cyber Knights
The brothers are keen to tie this into role-playing, which produces a dynamic world beyond the fighting. The player is a Cyber Knight who works for “the most dangerous and unpredictable power-brokers of the New Boston Zone”. All of these power brokers will have their own agendas in the game’s political simulator. For the player to succeed, they will have to work with a network of fixers, crimelords and megacorp agents. This will allow the player to negotiate contracts and get access to weapons and cyberware to gear up their team.
“We’re working to weave together three layers of stories – big city wide events, the stories of your employers and the personal story-lines of your team. There will be multiple stories going on at the same time, so you’ll have to make choices prioritizing which to pursue, delay or straight out ignore.”
Cory gives us an example. After you accept a job to infiltrate a Crane Technologies lab to steal a drone prototype, a hacker from your team might ask you for a favor. He tells you that his sister was on an indenture to Crane Tech, but she vanished two years ago. The megacorp has maintained a “no comment” stance on her whereabouts. If you agree to help him, your hacker stands to gain a positive loyalty-related Trait. His story will add a secondary objective to hack a personnel system while you’re in the Crane facility. This could then snowball into a revenge or rescue mission, or something more.
Why choose Kickstarter?
While the studio has a good track record and a strong community behind them, it’s still early days. Funding games is often difficult, and crowdfunding can be a particularly murky aspect for everybody involved. However, it’s familiar ground to the team, and Andrew reassures us that crowdfunding isn’t a last ditch effort.
Trese Brothers have been self-funded since our first game in 2011 and remains that way today. Without any outside distractions, we can focus on what really matters — our game and our backers. We have returned to Kickstarter in order to gather funding and recruit an alpha team. It will allow us to find backers who will help us add creative elements to the world of Cyber Knights.
“We believe in the game and have invested a lot of time and money, so we’re going to finish it. We’ve got a great team working to envision and create this rich cyberpunk world with style. Kickstarter can be nerve-wracking but we’ve got an amazing community at our back. They’ve been waiting on this game for a long time and we’ve worked with them at every step. We’ve had two previous successes on Kickstarter and delivered both of the games. This has helped us learn a lot about what works, what doesn’t and how to deliver for our backers. That said, every Kickstarter creator has to be cautious not to threaten their ability to deliver.”
These game-play features may sound exciting, but implementing them seamlessly can be challenging. I personally, have confidence in the Trese Brothers and look forward to being able to play this on my phone!
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