33 Immortals Preview: And Now For Something Completely Different

When I saw Thunder Lotus was making a second title, this is not what I was expecting. The team behind 2020 hit Spiritfarer revealed their upcoming project, 33 Immortals, during Microsoft’s summer showcase. It’s essentially a fantastically hand-drawn reimagining of Dante’s Divine Comedy, but, in this version, one condemned soul is building an army to fight back against its final judgment.

My hands-on session didn’t contain the game’s ambitious thirty-three-player maximum. Rather, between the dev team and a handful of journalists, my squad only numbered six. I’m sure that’s plenty to get through literal Hell, right?

The team was split into archers and sword wielders. I was the latter. Then we made our way to the Dark Woods, a place steeped in ominous shades and Medieval inspiration. The world map, modeled after ink-lined manuscripts, spilled out the underworld’s many locations. We didn’t visit even half of these, but the team was directed towards a shrine shimmering under the light of constellations that made me want to stay and take in the view before the inevitable onslaught.

It didn’t take long for monstrous hordes to swarm us. Nightmarish skulls crawling on bloody-looking tendrils, headless ghouls with gory weapons, oversized and agile wasps ready to jab mercilessly with deadly stingers, all these came at us in waves that seemed to go on forever.

As I hit each opponent, I noticed a gauge beneath my feet filling up. When full, I could unleash a flurry of hard-hitting combos. I also soon realized I held a special power. Bladed warriors, could grant healing, but only if the team cooperated. In order to trigger the, often much-needed, skill, three people had to stand in designated zones and activate the sigils I’d left on the ground as a group.

The archers’ ability was more combat-oriented. They could leave sigils on the ground — which also needed a group of three to trigger — that would loose a barrage of golden arrows into the enemy. Giving the more typical support role the chance to inflict major damage in a fight and pairing warriors with healing abilities is a really refreshing change-up. Every member of the team had moment of glory. Everyone had to stop and think about the group’s wellbeing. I loved it.

Some rooms we clear out offer chests with stat-boosting abilities, but we don’t get a lot of time to dwell on these as we rush from place to place, objective to object, in the thirty-minute demo. When one of us would inevitably succumb to the opposing forces, they’d transform into a little mote of light. This could be resurrected into a body — if your teammates can avoid getting killed themselves for long enough.

Finally, we enter the lair of the level’s final boss, Lucifer. Its cinematic reveal and sheer scale put me in mind of God of War — it was as if Santa Monica’s game had been translated into a breathtaking, hand-drawn title. A truly unbeatable-seeming creature loomed over us. Its three horned, fiercely roaring, heads were wreathed by bat wings just waiting to destroy us all. But we didn’t get to fight the lord of the realm as the demo ended in the wake of its introduction.

33 Immortals is in early development, which showed through in some of the rougher moments when players got stuck in the world’s geometry. It won’t even be out in Early Access until next year, so I expect a lot of things to change by the time I get to go hands-on next. However, the demo made me even more excited about what this game can be. I wonder how it will play with thirty-three warriors instead of the six I fought with, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

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