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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Spine will definitely be the first fighting game I can’t get past

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The stylish mix of cyberpunk and action movie has just been unveiled with first gameplay. Steffi spoke to the developers and brought back some exciting information

Spine wants to fulfill the dream of many action fans: Finally fight your own cinematic gun-fu battles, jump around at lightning speed and look damn cool the whole time. John Wick meets cyberpunk as you shoot and fight your way through the streets and nightclubs of a neon metropolis. 

I spoke to the developers and watched some more gameplay behind closed doors than has been released so far. I’m not allowed to show you this, but at least I can tell you what I found out. It’s already clear to me: Although Sifu and co. have put me off so far, Spine is definitely at the top of my wish list.

What kind of game will Spine be?

The freshly unveiled trailer consists of half gameplay, which already gives a first impression. You can see the video here:

Imagine Spine as an action movie to play yourself. The fights are deliberately staged very similar to John Wick, Oldboy and so on, both in terms of the gun-fu skills of the character called Redline and the camera work and levels. For example, I saw a fight on a bridge where the game suddenly switches to a sidescroller perspective like in (that legendary Oldboy scene). 

Other times the camera is very close to the articulated finisher moves, at other times the game reminds me of the group fights of the Arkham series Some levels are declarations of love to classic movies, for example a chic mansion like the one from Scarface or a bar where a fight breaks out while the live band continues to play.

Different weapons are used in the fights: firearms can already be seen in the trailer, plus of course blades, fists, kicks and elbows. Redline also has special attacks with her spray can that blind opponents with clouds of red paint.

(Shotgun, sword or spray: redline fights back with all means at its disposal.)
(Shotgun, sword or spray: redline fights back with all means at its disposal.)

In between the missions, things are a little quieter, there is a kind of base camp where you can find an apartment and a shooting range. Spine doesn’t just want to offer pure action, but also tell an exciting cyberpunk story about AI, the human soul and the dangers of a high-tech society. In total, this story should be around 12 to 15 hours long, so quite compact.

If, like me, you haven’t had too much to do with fighting games so far, don’t worry: There’s no second Sifu waiting for you here, which almost brought even our editorial fighting expert Dimi to his knees. Spine follows the motto “Easy to learn, hard to master” and is designed to provide an accessible introduction even for the less experienced. However, those who prefer to try their hand at harder challenges should also be well served.

Does it really look as good as in the trailer?

Spine is still far from finished, so there were still a lot of placeholder graphics in the levels shown, and the enemies were very hesitant to shoot back – all completely normal in the middle of development. But I can’t yet make a final judgment on how good the game will really look in the end.

(The finishers shown so far look very stylish and very brutal.)
(The finishers shown so far look very stylish and very brutal.)

Thanks to Unreal Engine 5, the environments we’ve seen so far are spectacularly beautiful and very harmoniously lit – great, so I can see much better what cool punches my character is throwing! The deadly dance, which is so impressive in the trailer, is already happening in the free game, which according to the development studio is thanks to the Cascadeur animation engine. In any case, I’m extremely excited to see if it plays as smoothly as it looks!

When and where will Spine be released?

A fixed release date is not yet known, but it should be sometime in 2025. And I may have some good news for the impatient: When I gently asked if there might be a demo before the final release, the developers replied: “We’re thinking about it. Demos have been making quite a comeback for a while now, so we’ll see.” It would be conceivable to make one or two finished levels available to play

Spine will definitely appear on Steam and will also be explicitly fully compatible with the Steam Deck. The developers are still in talks with other stores and have no reservations about publishing on Epic for example. It will also be playable on consoles via PlayStation and Xbox.

What do we like? What remains unresolved so far?

What I like about Spine so far:

  • Absolutely stylish: The game immediately impressed me with its graphics, buttery smooth animations and atmospheric cyberpunk world. The Oldboy homage finally opened my heart.
  • Difficulty: Spine aims to be more accessible than hardcore fighting games like Sifu without sacrificing complexity. On low difficulty you should be able to ignore some complex maneuvers with impunity, but for hardcore you need them. In hard mode, I do more damage, but conversely I also take more – exciting idea!
  • The setting: I love the cyberpunk genre and wanted to know from the developers why they chose it. The reason is that it mixes so many cool aspects, for example sci-fi with westerns, classic fist fights with ultra-modern augmentations. Sounds like the developers are drawing from the full here!

What is still unclear:

  • Flow: Of course, the most important thing in action games like this is that the combat feels really good. I can only judge that when I get to do it myself.
  • More than just a backdrop? Spine explicitly wants to tell an exciting story that isn’t just an accessory to the cool fights. I can’t yet tell you how interesting it will be.

Conclusion of the editors

You know me, I’m a story gamer. But there are also action games that have captured my heart, for example I love the titles from Supergiant Games for their fun battles. I’m also totally fascinated by something like Sifu – I just can’t play it myself, my frustration threshold is too low for that. That’s why I prefer to watch it as a gameplay video and admire the choreography that other people conjure up

Spine could be exactly my game: I get a (hopefully) thrilling cyberpunk story and cinematic combat that doesn’t constantly overwhelm me, but should make me feel like the coolest sock since John Wick. And I’m really looking forward to seeing what other allusions there are in it, I’m hoping for an interpretation of my favorite action scene ever.

How did you like Spine at first sight? Are you as eager as I am to let fists, spray cans and bullets fly? Do you think the finished game will look as pretty as what we’ve seen so far? Let me know your thoughts and questions about the upcoming action game in the comments below!

Age: 24 Origin: Germany Hobbies: gaming, football, table tennis Profession: Online editor, student


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