Draft of Darkness is a game I did not know existed this morning, and now it is a game I must play. It’s one of those where to explain it you need to smoosh a lot of concepts together: it’s a lo-fi, top-down horror roguelike, where combat happens via card battles and the game’s overarching loop is about deckbuilding for each run. It’s also one of those where, if you take a look at the trailer, you get the appeal instantly: and it’s out in a few days.
The most irresistible aspect of this for me though is that Playstation 1-era horror aesthetic. Whether your go-to is Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Parasite Eve, or whatever else, the art style recreates that vibe without looking quite like any of them: though what it reminded me most of is Resident Evil: Outbreak, an underwhelming PS2 entry featuring multiple survivors trying to escape Raccoon City, and relying on each other’s different skillsets.
That’s probably because this features multiple playable characters with their own skills, and you can build a party of survivors during each run, each of which will have their own set of abilities.
The interesting kink to the combat is that it’s based on cards built around specific weapons, which you equip, but also feature certain effects that can lead to synergies across other weapon cards. One of Draft of Darkness’s most familiar-but-welcome features is that every run gives credits to open booster packs for new starting cards.
Draft of Darkness also promises a ‘meta-story progression’, i.e. choices with consequences. Developer Crawly Games says “I’m planning on keeping the game in Early Access for 6 months to 1 year. Ultimately it depends on the time the players will be satisfied with the game.”
“At the start of Early Access, Part 1 of the story is available. According to our estimates, it’s possible to reach the end of this part in 6-8 hours. Of course, there are secrets, achievements and unlocks you can pursue, which will add many hours of playtime.”
At launch the game will feature 3 heroes, 4 companion archetypes, 135+ cards, 3 different themes of procedurally generated areas, 19 basic enemies, 9 bosses, 28+ decision events, and 45+ unique items.
Draft of Darkness launches in Early Access on 30 July. The game is $9.99 until 6th of August.