Sceadeau recently sent me a multiplayer game on Steam that he likened to a Diablo puzzle game. The basic idea of the game is 2-4 players get together, take one of the four classes, and smash some monsters. There's a tank, and archer, a rogue, and a barbarian style character. Each character will eventually unlock something like 8 active abilities and 8 passive abilities and can choose to use 3 of each for any given level. Combat mostly entails hitting enemies with a weaker ability in order to stack up marks on them and then using a powerful ability with a cooldown to consume the marks and do tons of extra damage. There seems like there's a reasonable amount of interplay deciding which class should be using the marks on which levels and that sort of thing but the combat isn't terribly exciting. Good enough, but not spectacular for the genre or anything.
Where the game really gets interesting is the puzzle aspect of the game. There's a floating orb on your team and each player has a button they can press to 'call the ball' and make the orb go in a straight line from where it is to where the player was when the button is pressed. If someone else hits their button it overrides the old order and the orb will go from where it currently is to the new destination. Then the levels get filled with things to do with the orb. Shrines that get activated when the orb touches them which heal the party, or damage the enemies, or charge the orb into a bomb which detonates the first time it contacts anything solid. Like an enemy, or a wall... Or a player! KABOOM! Some levels make you stand near the orb or take massive damage. Some levels have gauntlet style enemy spawners that can only be destroyed by the orb. We just did a level where we had to charge the orb into a ball but the charge point was buried deep in a tunnel and would explode if it hit the wall. We couldn't enter the tunnel because the entrance has a short ledge we couldn't walk over, but the orb could fly over. So we needed to charge the bomb and then walk parallel down the tunnel on opposite sides calling the ball back and force so it wouldn't hit either wall. Tricky, but doable with some coordination.
There's a leveling system, but it's not grindy the way most leveling systems work. Instead every zone has 3 levels that can be earned in it. One for completing the zone. One for completing the zone under a specified time limit. One for completing the zone while accomplish some challenge along the way. Kill a tough monster within 8 seconds of it spawning. Kill the area boss without getting hit by his stomp ability. Kill 5 enemies with one bomb (on a level where enemies spawn in waves of 4).
This game reminds me of the good parts of raiding in World of Warcraft. Figure out how to do a puzzle, actually implement the plan. Get a reward. Move on to the next level. Ok, in WoW those last two things actually took months to happen, and that wasn't exactly a good part... On the other hand I expect this game will probably only be fun for a couple weeks and then we'll have beaten all the challenges and move on. But maybe that's a good thing too... I have lots of games to play, after all!
We've been playing with 3 people thus far (Robb, Sceadeau, and I) but there are 4 classes and it goes up to 4 people...