I was happy getting a hands-on sneak peek at one of the more interesting indie titles on the E3 show floor, [email protected] Players take role as one of four characters in this text-based roguelike from Stormcloud Games, where letters are much more than alphabet characters. As one of the smoother demos on the floor, [email protected] was a joy to play. It's a familiar mix a la Gauntlet and a throwback to game development when a character's head looked more like a symbol instead of a massive three-dimensional effort that requires the collaboration of several 3-D animators. It's a delightful mix of old and new. But how does it play?
As before, the game plays much like a Gauntlet hackfest. Each character carries different stats and carries several weaknesses or strengths. Warriors hit harder, but move slower. Pretty basic. Controls felt fluid and smooth, and there wasn't guesswork as to what I needed to press in order to access things. Each level is built with a gamut of ASCII characters and a dot-matrix-like floor that's unique in this kind of game.
You collect certain letters in the world to gain powerups and increase your abilities. You can also make potions from combining different items scattered in the world. The developer brings something welcome to the table with [email protected] everything is randomized, including the potions you concoct. Make a purple potion? You won't know what it does until you drink it, and every potion color is randomized with each new game. I've always been a fan of randomized game mechanics since they bring extended replay value.
This is your quest to fight against the hordes of ASCII-baddies in this 26-level rougelike hackfest. We invite you to take a long look at [email protected] and give it a try. If the levels you've played are too predictable, jump into the Dungeon Creator and code your own ASCII levels. Launching on PS4 in 2016 with a PC and Mac release later, we're excited to see more.