Recently in the development of Seventh Cross, we’ve been focusing a lot on making boss battles as diverse and interesting as possible. This week, I'd like to talk about a feature of the game that's come out of our work on boss battles: castle-specific combat mechanics.
What are they?
I mentioned in some of my earlier blogs that a castle in Seventh Cross constitutes a complete campaign, and that players will fight about 4-7 big boss monsters before finishing their adventure. In each of these adventures, you'll be visiting a new venue and fighting monsters with a specific theme.
To further bring out the themes of the castles, there are castle-specific mechanics that play out in each of the boss fights. These don't exist in the game's first environment (Wilshire Village), since that is primarily an introductory adventure. However, the other six castles in the game do have such unique mechanics attached.
Seventh Cross is a game that's about 30-50% about killing monsters, and about 50-70% about making sure monsters don't kill you. These new mechanics put different twists on the formula, forcing players to plan out unorthodox strategies to survive, rather than relying on the same tactics from castle to castle.
In Toymaker's Clockwork Castle, the mechanical-themed dungeon, monster's shields (hit points) are assigned to different locations on their bodies. Damaging these shields will alter the monster's behavior. In some cases, like the Chimera-in-a-box, damaging these shields amounts to wounding the monster's different heads, cutting off its dangerous attacks. In other cases, monsters may become faster, or change their behaviors slightly once their armor and weapons are broken. Choosing which areas to target first involves reading the monster's actions properly and paying attention to the ebb and flow of combat.
In Norbett's Claw, the ice-themed castle, monsters change their behaviors temporarily when you break one of their shields. This enrage effect causes them to perform a more dangerous version of their entire next attack sequence. This forces hunters to consider the pacing of the fight far more carefully, as breaking a shield at the wrong moment can lead to a sudden and grisly death for one of your allies.
In the Arveros Manor, a plant- and animal-themed castle, monsters have an immediate action they take each time a curse is drawn from a hunter's deck. This action during the draw phase makes every turn of a card tense, and can upset players' best-laid strategies. Players will often want to minimize their draws, choking their own resources to avoid these disruptions. Attacks that have a cost of revealing cards from the deck can cause monsters to suddenly interrupt or dodge your attacks.
Later castles involve more diverse mechanics, but this small sampling should give a general idea of how simple changes can affect the way boss fights progress in a very fundamental level.
Each boss within the castle explores the castle's mechanic in a different way, while the final boss in the area has multiple phases and acts as a 'final exam' of the different mechanics you've learned through the adventure.