ESGS 2018 brought to us pleasant surprises most of which were homegrown. Still, no game convention is complete without having game developers talk about the games they are about to launch. On Day 2, we were fortunate to have two of the top minds of Left Alive – Producer Shinji Hashimoto and Director Toshifumi Nabeshim to share us their thoughts about Square Enix’s upcoming shooter for the Playstation 4 and Windows PC.
To the uninitiated, Front Mission is a collection of video games and other related content rooted in turn-based strategy. Its main attraction are the giant robots called “Wanzers”. These are anthropomorphic building-sized robots with shoulder mounted long-range canons that resemble a tank. Although these robots have the firepower and toughness of a tank, they don’t move like one. The Wanzers have the ability to “skate” on the ground, which makes for a fast-paced, third-person shooter. The upcoming offering, Left Alive, is a spin-off from the Front Mission universe with gameplay elements that borrow heavily from another earlier spin-off: Front Mission Evolve.
It’s a third-person shooter through and through and will have you control three main characters in various stages of the game. In the videos shown, we were given two gameplay modes, one as a Wanzer and another, on foot. The Wanzer gameplay was bombastic, with huge explosions left an right and buildings crumbling as you push an enemy Wanzer on them. The one on foot encourages you to play tactically since, we were told, that going rambo won’t really work due to the fact that the AI is smarter.
Fans familiar with Front Mission will feel right at home with its “you against world domination” theme. Shinji Hashimoto promises an engaging storyline that may change depending on the choices you make in the course of dealing with tense situations. In one example, we were shown a clip where the protagonist is behind cover (yes, there’s a cover sytem this time around), listening to the conversation of the enemies who are about to execute innocent civilians. Here you are given the choice on either a) save the civilians by neutralizing the opponents, or b) stay until they kill the civilians then engage or c) just move along. The player’s decision should also be done soon since delaying your choice may be the difference between life or death for the civilians.
Conversations with other non-playable characters can also affect the outcome of the game. In another clip we were shown a sample of how a conversation could go between the main character and another NPC (non-playable character). Its up to the player to continue the conversation or not, or build or break the trust built with such characters. Such decisions have an enormous impact to the developing storyline.
Left Alive does put the premium in stealth as well. In another video, we were shown you can control a female character. Since this character isn’t a soldier, she doesn’t really use guns to start with so she uses objects in her environment to distract or even neutralize opponents. I guess its the developers’ way of balancing the chaos brought by the Wanzers and the subdued on-foot action.
The whole game is set in a 24-hour time period in the middle of a full-scale war. This got us thinking all the more that every decision made has an immediate impact to the storyline and may be even the Front Mission universe. It has a minimum of 10 hours of gameplay but with three playable characters with multiple endings for each, it’s easy to say that it could easily double. The extreme focus on the single-player aspect also means that there’s no multiplayer mode, which for me is a good thing.
So it’s a mech game with soul. Count me in.
Left Alive will be released in March 2019.