Chapter One: Rise of the Underworld.
I’m not going to lie, that’s a dope title for a game’s introduction. And there’s a lot Legendary Hoplite gets right straight from the beginning. Starting up the early beta, I realize I’m bopping my head to the time-appropriate jams, and then they strike me with the Cubist-like art style. Those alone earn it a swift click on the wishlist button. Of course, the real Achilles heel for me on this one is its ancient Greek trappings.
Playing as Dio, a captain in Ithaca’s mighty army, I watch as a normal night turns into a nightmare. Skeletal soldiers inexplicably rise from the grave — hence the cool chapter title — and threaten the surrounding populace. So, it’s time to jump into combat.
The action takes place on a field with seven delineated rows. Our hero stands on one side of the field while the undead enemies charge from the opposite side in predetermined waves. Each combatant runs in a straight line down a lane, and I have to jump from row to row, throwing an inexhaustible supply of javelins, to keep the baddies from getting past me and damaging the health bar. I can also call on a small phalanx of warriors to defend one column once I’ve earned enough combat points by defeating foes.
All goes well for a time. Every throw of my weapon takes stamina, but my supply is equal to the task. Until the final wave of skeletons begins to sweep through. An endless undead sea streams toward me and all looks lost before divine intervention saves the day.
The goddess in the machine is Gaia, whose anger at the unnatural warriors leads her to bestow on me a powerful gift. The new ability throws multiple javelins at once, mowing down even the most hardened attacker. It’s governed by a slight cooldown but pushes me to victory.
With the battle over, for now, I collect my earned experience points and equipment and return to a map of the overworld. This screen shows me where my next fights will take place and what kinds of enemies I can expect to face. I also have the opportunity to outfit my hero with stronger gear, upgrade my army, and study my notes on the bad guys.
Everything I’ve seen so far points to an engaging gameplay loop of taking on increasingly strong opponents, gaining more abilities to help defend against them, and getting powerful loot from each battle. Legendary Hoplite is in early development and has issues — I noticed missing words in the dialogue and I couldn’t use an ability at one point — but I expect these to be buffed out as the team continues to work on the title. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more news in the future.