Preview

Epigenesis

Manic Action Abounds In This Competitive Future Sports Game
by Shin Hieftje on Feb 26, 2014 at 08:30 AM
Platform PC
Publisher Dead Shark Triplepunch
Developer Dead Shark Triplepunch
Rating Rating Pending

To get invested in a sports game, you typically need to have an interest in the sport in question, be it basketball, football, or anything else. With Epigenesis, developer Dead Shark Triplepunch aims to make an accessible sports game by creating its own future sport and merging it with the shooter genre, which I had a chance to play with the developers first hand.

Epigenesis retains the core goal of “get the ball into the net,” but adds first-person shooting and double jumping into the mix. Each map features large vertical rings on either side of the arena that serve as goals, a ball in the middle, and a number of hovering platforms in between. There are two teams, the Omani and the Argos, in orange and purple, respectively. The object is for one player to take the ball in the middle, jump across the platforms and throw it into the opposing team’s ring. 

Those without the ball can use gravity cannon guns to knock opposing players off of their jump trajectory if their shot hits. In Epigenesis, there is no actual damage done to the players, only location displacement. Players can swap between a rail gun that hits wherever the reticule is aimed, and a grenade launcher-type gun, which shoots projectiles pretty far but is affected by gravity. Hitting an opponent off the platform hopefully causes them to fall to their death, at which point they will have to wait a little while to respawn. If the player holding the ball gets knocked off a platform and dies, the ball is reset in the middle after a countdown. There is also the option to use the gravity cannons to suck players toward you, though that didn’t prove particularly effective in my brief time playing.

Holding the ball removes the players’ ability to also use a weapon, instead the fire button launches the ball wherever the mouse is aimed. By holding down the jump button, players can increase the height of each jump, which becomes key. Being skilled at air control and double jumping is as important as being good at shooting, because deftly maneuvering through the air makes it easier to get across the map and score goals. Double jumping is also helpful in recovering onto a platform if you get hit off by a gun. 

Your weapons can boost your teammates by hitting them and giving them more momentum towards the goal, which is a smart tactic. There are also pickups around the map that respawn every sixty seconds and grant abilities such as a hook shot that lets players latch on to whatever object their reticule is on and bound over there.

If it was only jumping and rail guns, Epigenesis would be a fun but shallow experience. However, there is a plant life mechanic that adds depth, which is also where the origin of the name Epigenesis comes into play. In biology, epigenesis refers to the theory that an organism evolves through the gradual differentiation of the seed/egg. In the game, once players score a goal, they receive a seed which they can plant on a designated platform near their goal. Before each match, a player can pick a backpack which determines what their seed does and what bonus perks they will receive when they plant the seed. So, depending on the backpack, the plant could either be a turret that shoots acidic bullets at nearby enemies or a ramp made out of vines that makes traversal easier between platforms. Their bonus perk could either be a speed boosts or the ability to jump higher. This level of differentiation also gives a nice level of custom personalization to the game. 

Winning conditions are interesting in Epigenesis, because if you connect a node system of planted seeds from your goal post all the way to your opponents' goal post, you win. However, I didn’t even know that was a possibility when playing the game because I never saw it happen. Usually the game ends in typical sports fashion where when the timer expires, the team with the most goals wins. If there is a tie, players enter overtime where the team that scores the next goal wins. 

While Epigenesis is easy to get into, it is a game of skill. Hitting players and trying to go after the player with the ball takes a lot of precision and can be quite tricky. At the same time, even if you are personally having a terrible game, it’s still pretty fun. Going after the ball is always intense, and all the jumping and laser firing makes it exciting no matter how skilled you are. 

Epigenesis is still in early access, so there could be a lot of adjustments before release. From what I played, it has a lot of promise. The high skill level involved could make it a great competitive game if people latch on to it. 

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