As far as game names go, Sword with Sauce is absolutely an odd one. It reeks of the kind of title that came about last minute because, y’know, it doesn’t really sell what the game is about. Sword with Sauce is in alpha right now and you can pick up the alpha on Steam for the easy-to-justify price of US$2.99.
I don’t even know how it first came up in my feed, but when I watched the trailer and saw the price, it was an easy bolt-on for whatever other game I was buying on Steam at the time. Because it’s in alpha, Sword with Sauce is more proof of concept than full-fledged game. But given how compelling the gameplay loop is in its proof-of-concept offering, developer Diatomic Games is on to something special.
According to the Steam page, the plan is for a whole lot more content, which includes a campaign. At the moment, there are set maps and it’s more of a free-form approach in how you want to take down a space filled with baddies. There’s a tutorial, if you’re into that kind of thing, but really it’s so easy to pick up and play that you can jump straight into one of the five maps and get a-killin’.
Because that’s the objective of the game in its current form: killing every crash-test dummy NPC that’s on the map. You can customise difficulty and even play-style challenges before you start, but it loads so fast and is best enjoyed initially with a free-form approach, so you can come back to customised play-throughs later.
The minimalist art design and faceless basic-bipedal enemy (I assume they’re humans) design will likely draw comparisons to Superhot. And while the comparison is fair in terms of look and the heavy emphasis on action, Sword with Sauce plays out 100 percent in real time. What this leads to is a player-created ballet of blood, as plans go out the window and you roll with the punches.
You start with a katana and, if you like, you can just use that to slice your way through the map. If you’re looking to create your own John Woo-like action movie, though, you’ll want to pick up the weapons of dead goons as you carve or mow them down. Play it ninja, if you like, or dash through the levels and challenge yourself to maintain murderous momentum as you snatch up the weapons of dead enemies and use them on the reinforcements.
Both play styles are rewarded, and for run-and-gun fans (like me), there’s a massive emphasis on forward momentum once you get the bloody ball rolling. Forget about reloading, as weapons are dry once you’ve emptied them. The only way to get another one is to snatch them up off your previous (or next) victim. Guns can be grabbed as they fall, too, which further incentivises up-close-and-personal takedowns where you slice a head, grab a falling shotgun, clear a room, then nab an assault rifle before shooting down the incoming reinforcements.
It helps that it has Titanfall-like movement, too, so you can wall-run, jump, and vault your way around the map to open up new attack pathways, or break line of sight from a group of armed enemies who are pouring bullets in your direction. On top of this, there’s a variety of gadgets that complement different play styles. But mostly it’s about getting into a fantastic rhythm of eviscerating baddies.
In its current alpha form, Sword with Sauce isn’t the kind of game that you’ll put a lot of hours into. It’s more the kind of promising early experience that you play in short bursts. Even though it’s exclusively a solo experience (fingers crossed multiplayer is added later!), it’s the kind of game that lends itself to that beautiful type of social multiplayer where you play and record a particularly compelling play-through, then send it to your gaming mates as a sort of ‘top that’ challenge.
Diatomic Games says Sword with Sauce is on track for release by mid-2018, and the pricing will reportedly change in the beta and release phases. If you’re after a quick-fix action experience, though, the alpha is a no-brainer purchase.