I’m looking forward to Eitr, and you should be as well.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Eitr‘s indie developers during E3 2015. Their prior meeting ran late, as did mine, for reasons I would come to understand through meeting them. Eneme Entertainment is comprised of two people, artist and designer David Wright and coder and developer Tobi Harper. The pair greeted me and welcomed me into their space, controller in hand. They were happy to show off their project not as professionals making a pitch, but as gaming enthusiasts. I would have been happy to hang out with them well beyond our allotted time.
Eitr is an isometric hack ‘n slash with a look and feel familiar to veterans of the older Diablo titles. Its story is set in Norse mythology. When the god Loki interfered with the weaving of her fate, the Shield Maiden became the only one of her people unaffected by the titular poison, eitr, that threatens the nine Norse worlds. She must face corrupted terrors to discover her fate and, hopefully, reverse the damage to the lands and to her people.
As the pair explained, their motivation for creating Eitr is that no one else has made the game they want to play. They were excited to share the controller and show off everything they have put into the game so far as well as to discuss elements that were tweaked or abandoned throughout the process. Several specifics concerning the interface, leveling, and special items were presented with the explanation that this is what they have in place now after having tried something, or several somethings, else. I got the distinct sense that Eneme Entertainment isn’t going to settle for anything short of perfection for their project, and they possess the enthusiasm to see it through.
As mentioned, Eitr will seem familiar to fans of the older Diablo games, but it’s not treading the same ground. The team settled upon the isometric view in order to make concealed entrances and hidden areas more viable. The leveling system is a work in progress that will feature “favors” among dropped loot. These favors, gifts from the gods, grant passive bonuses while in the Shield Maiden’s possession, but they have a chance to be destroyed upon player death. Alternately, the favors may be consumed for lesser, but permanent, gains in the form of level increases. It is up to the player whether to play it safely.
The combat feels excellent. Eitr features several types of armaments and dashing and blocking mechanics. Weapons can be swapped on the fly, so the Shield Maiden can block with her shield, dash away, fire off an enchanted arrow, sidestep, and slash with her sword. Equipment will have slots for gems that, rather than changing the qualities of the gear, will allow the Shield Maiden to choose additional abilities that manifest through the equipment. One such skill was a freezing spell that activated on a successfully-timed shield block. It took practice to properly execute, but it made the combat a lot of fun, and I look forward to seeing how else things can be customized.
There’s plenty that Eneme Entertainment hasn’t finalized yet regarding Eitr. As far as the game’s story goes, they explained that they have the start and the conclusion, but they’re still working out the middle. They’re considering having random effects occur after suffering death, but rather than detriments, these effects have the chance to be boons. The pair explained their reasoning, that suffering a series of deaths and having the game grow increasingly difficult as a result simply isn’t any fun. But having random effects, good and bad, might introduce new possibilities. I asked about companion characters, and they traded off a proposed idea that seemed as much a brainstorming session as it did an answer. Eitr may feature companions that can be sent out to others’ games on orders to aid or to rob their Shield Maiden, with the latter option putting your own favors at risk of being lost if caught. Or the game may not feature anything like this at all if the team puts it in, tries it, and decides that something else is more fun. I truly believe that the duo won’t accept anything but their vision of complete refinement.
Eitr is currently in development for PS4 and PC with plans to port to Mac and Linux. There is not a projected release date at the time of this writing.