Wednesday, February 11, 2009

20cc has a weakness for metal.

Sonata Arctica is making a video game. If any of you out there asked, “What is Sonata Arctica?” then I have two pieces of advice. First, find something blunt and hit yourself in the jaw with it. Next look them up. Allow me just to clarify that I am not so much of a fanboy that I expect this game to be awesome. It's a game inspired by an obscure Finnish power metal band, and developed by a company that has never made a game before (Zelian Games). However, I still intend to follow it slavishly, because SA is doing the soundtrack, and they're one of the best bands ever.

The game is called Winterheart's Guild, named after SA's breakthrough 2003 album. It was originally intended as a post-apocalyptic action RPG, back in 2006. Videos and screen shots suggested a setting in a cold, tundra-like area, perhaps representing a nuclear winter. There was little to be seen as far as gameplay, but it looked like a typical third person, Elder Scrolls-esque RPG. Also there were wolves (little surprise, if you know much about SA's image).

It seems that at some point in the past, however, Zelian became concerned about the game stagnating, and diverted their attention into a new game, xOrbic, to test their ZelianX engine before using it in Winterheart's Guild. This apparently signaled a genre shift for the game into puzzle RPG territory. When I learned about this in the SA forums (earlier today) it concerned me. I've never been a huge fan of puzzle games, and I certainly don't believe I've ever payed for one. However, being the SA zombie that I am, I decided that I would hold out hope. So I wandered over to the Winterheart's Guild website and downloaded the xOrbic demo.

It turned out to be, as I described to GERARDAMO earlier, “Fun, in a flash game sort of way. Not the kind of fun that I'll pay thirty dollars for.” It had a relatively engaging RPG leveling and inventory system, and a combat system that's somewhat reminiscent of Bejeweled. The player is required to match certain tiles in order to attack the opponent in a turn based battle. I didn't actually get that far into the game, mostly because the only time I had to play it in was the fifteen minutes in between Physics and Music Theory, but I saw enough to know that unless the system is modified significantly for the final Winterheart's Guild, I probably won't bother paying for it. As it stands, I'm most excited about the new song that SA is writing for the game. Of course, by the time it comes out, I certainly hope they'll have a new album.


  1. This story kind of made me laugh out loud (That's right, bitches, I typed out the whole phrase.) "Let's make a cool, action-y RPG... Well... Hmm... Let's just reskin Puzzle Quest. People seemed to like that. We'll still use your music, though!"

  2. I blame Jani, only because he recently got kicked out of the band, so it must be his fault, right?