Thrilling and cathartic as it may be to button-mash your way through a Marvel vs Capcom match, true mastery of any fighting game is a long, painful road filled with extensive memorisation, practicing precision inputs and learning complex interlocking mechanics. Fantasy Strike from Sirlin Games - newly released on Steam Early Access - looks to teach the fundamentals of the genre in a far more direct fashion.
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Fantasy Strike’s design aims to boil down the genre to its absolute core. A total of 8 digital inputs - Movement left, right and up, a basic attack button, a throw, and dedicated buttons for your character’s primary, secondary and super special moves. Want to counter that throw that you’re sure the enemy is about to use? Rather than any precision input or frame-perfect counter, you just let go of the controls.
Even health is simplified, with each character having 5-8 health points, and most hits doing a single point of damage. It’s a fascinating concept, and the stated goal of the Early Access launch is to try and get as many players as they can in on the ground floor as they tweak and tune netcode and finish development on the remaining 2 (of a planned 10) characters, as well as the rest of the stage backgrounds and playmodes.
The biggest obstacle facing Fantasy Strike now is to break into the PC market. As an independently developed fighting game, that’s a tall order on multiple levels, with Lab Zero’s Skullgirls being the only other success story in recent years, and while Fantasy Strike developer David Sirlin’s name may be known in hardcore fighting game circles, it doesn’t carry much weight elsewhere.
Fantasy Strike is out now on PC via Steam Early Access for £15/$20, and a PS4 release is scheduled for sometime next year, although no fixed date has been set.