This title was reviewed on PC, but is also available on Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.
Feudal Alloy is a new Metroidvania style game from Attu Games. It sits nicely in the same box as Salt and Sanctuary and Hollow Knight… but is a bit less interesting in the long run. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad. You are, in fact, a fish in a robot (which is a stroke of genius). So, you know, swings and roundabouts and what not.
Your particular fish in a robot is the very sweet Attu, who has spent a life farming sunflowers so he can make oil to take care of the old robots and their squeaky joints. That is until the day a bunch of bandits attack the village and make off with all the oil. So it’s up to Attu to make his way through the underground tunnels to the bandits hideout to get it all back. It’s a fairly sweet if underwhelming story. In fairness though, it was enough to have me, a fish in a robot, gallivanting off into the depths with relative excitement.
The hand drawn style of Feudal Alloy is quite enjoyable, it shows off the almost ‘steam punky but still feudal’ aspect of the aesthetic perfectly. More importantly, everyone in this world is a fish in a robot, so you get to see a whole gambit of different robots with fish in them. Fish.
The sound is pretty one note and you’ll tune it out soon enough. I suggest having a podcast ready to go. Might I suggest… ‘There’s no such thing as a Fish’? You’re welcome.
I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up new gear that my look changed, and there are bonuses associated with each upgrade (or sidegrade). My fish did end up looking pretty cool by the end. But I’m also a fish in robot, and it’s hard to be cooler than that. The upgrades themselves did fall short of expectations. While you don’t get specific numbers, the amount of dots indicated the damage or defence of each upgrade piece. Further to these two common stats there are some others specific to being a fish in a robot. One of the neat aspects of this game is that you are a fish in a robot, and being in a robot means that you need to be careful of overheating. If you attack to much, you overheat and can’t attack anymore. If you hit this point, it’s time to turn fin and run away as you wait for your heat gage to head back into the safe green zone. So your extra resources are cooling time and capacity before overheating. My problem here is despite stacking these gear stats, I never really noticed a difference when I was playing. There was no sense of ‘this actually impacted me playing as a fish in a robot’.
The skill tree suffered from the same problem. There are three basic branches and they all contribute passives to your fish in a robot. Out of the three, only Offence seemed to make any difference and eventually I just ignored Defence and Utility. Because meh. The attacks are garden variety push a single button to keep attacking. And at the start that’s really all you can do. Block and dash do come along a bit later, but you’re still really a one note fish in a robot.
Death and persistence are interesting (read: good) in Feudal Alloy. As in, it’s not completely punishing. Enemies respawn when you leave a room which, as always, gets a bit annoying. When you die though, you don’t lose anything you’ve gathered. You do lose anything you’ve used though. Saving at a spot before a boss fight doesn’t mean you’ll spawn back with everything as it was. If you used 5 potions in that fight, you don’t get those 5 back. This meant that there was a bit of strategy involved with when you use certain items. For instance, the overheating mechanic can be counteracted with freeze potions. But they don’t last long and you’ll need them at certain parts of a boss room or fight, so don’t go blowing them all at once. It can be a long, long, long trek back, as a fish in a robot, to a merchant to buy more.
The map you gather piece by piece was next to useless. I don’t necessarily believe in knowing exactly where you are in these types of games, but I do expect the room to be laid out as the map shows. This is kinda what you need to see where you need to explore. To find the puzzle. To platform your way out. But almost every time it would lead me wrong. The map would show a large room with, say, a way out to the right top and I would platform my way up, only to find after ages of looking around that the actual way was much closer to the bottom of the room. There is a lot of dead time when you’re a fish in a robot, finding your way with a map that lies to you. It has been suggested to me by someone who is not a fish in a robot that this may be because fish don’t know how to draw or read maps. But what does he know? He’s not a fish in a robot.
The platforming in this style of game is all important and Feudal Alloy holds up most of the time. The movement is tight and fluid but the actual platforming becomes a bit uninspired after you’ve been at it for a few hours. I kept expecting to come across progressively more difficult or interesting puzzles, but it all largely stayed the same. The ‘bosses’ in this game are mostly rooms with continuous spawning enemies. The enemies that spawn are usually ones you find in the lead up to the room, though you do get the occasional new boss… there just aren’t many. The enemy variety is lacking. I guess there are only so many ‘fish in a robot’ types that can exist. So, as you move along, you just get more powerful reskins of what you’ve already seen. I also did hit a bug a few times (generally after switching my legs) where I could no longer jump on ledges. RIP fish in a robot.
But like I said at the start, not all is lost! You’re still a fish in a robot, running around the place fighting other fish in a robots. It starts off a bit slow, and gets a bit easy towards the end, but being a fish in a robot means that you’re willing to forgive and just have a bit of fun being a fish in a robot.
Fish in a robot count = 19