Not quite living up to the classy name of Erik Svedäng‘s latest title, the release of the beta for Clairvoyance came as quite a surprise to us today – a delightful one, we hasten to add. To attribute the work to just a single man would be unfair though, as it is a team of four friends that have contributed to the whole project. Those being programmer Johannes Gotlén, art and music maker Niklas Åkerblad (who has worked on other Svedang games and contributed music to Hotline Miami), sound designer Oscar Rydelius, as well as Svedäng on the game design front. That’s a pretty special team right there.
So what has been their labor of love? Clairvoyance is a 3D strategic board game. More importantly, it’s an online multiplayer battle between robots with lasers and explosives. Importantly, as it’s the inspiration behind the title, the opposing players take turns at the same time so one of the most important skills within the game is predicting what they may choose to do. The real magic happens for both players as their simultaneous turns come to an end and their small army of four robots play out whatever destructive maneuver was bestowed upon them by their human overlord.
“Think of it as Chess meets Rock Paper Scissors — with robots and lasers.”
Async My Battleship
One of the more surprising elements of Clairvoyance is that it is played asynchronously. This means that players can play the game whenever they feel like logging in, so some games may not be finished up in one session. When logging into the game you’ll head into the lobby and in there you’ll find a number of different icons. As you can see on the right, these indicate which players are available to play, who you’ve sent an invite to, and for games you’re already playing you’re told whether you need to take your turn or wait for the other player.
Clairvoyance allows you to play multiple games, so taking your time and really considering what moves to take is an important habit to get into. In this way, you can play the game in a quickfire way – one session may be over in as much as a few minutes should one player dominate another – or you can play the game over the course of several days if you wish; coming back to make just one turn a day if you like.
Make Your Moves
Once you’re actually in a game, it’s important to know how everything works. On the surface, Clairvoyance appears to be a very simple game, but actually being any good at it takes a lot of thought and a practised knowledge of how everything operates. You have four robots that you’ll have to place along the base line at the beginning of the game. You can put them anywhere along here but cannot see where your opponent is placing theirs. Each robot has three states – normal, damaged and destroyed. When a robot is damaged, indicated by smoke emitting from it, you can send another robot over to heal it if you want to risk it. Before playing a match you can customize your robots with different colors to make a team flag in the Team Editor.
When it comes to each making your first turn, you’ll see five action panels just like the one to the left. With this you can make five moves – that’s what constitutes one turn. You can choose any robot and make them do any of the moves in available to you. Before submitting your turn you can “try out” the moves to see how they may look, but you won’t know exactly how things will play out due to the other player making their moves too of course.
Easily overlooked is the Initiative. This is the blue exclamation mark and using it takes up one move. This just means that the robot with the initiative will move first. Say if two opposing robots were heading to the same place then the one with the initiative would go there first. Moves are played out one at a time, so the players sit there anxiously to see how their choice of moves pans out with the other player’s choices. Once all ten moves have been witnessed, an eleventh round is then played in which all of the grenades on the board explode. Grenades damage anything in their radius, and can cause double damage it underneath or above a robot. On that note, robots can go on top of other robots, if for nothing else but jokes!
As said, Clairvoyance in currently in beta and has just been released today for Mac and Windows PCs. An iPad version in planned for the future too. You can grab it on this page for $5 but that price will rise as newer versions are released. If the game gets on Steam then everyone who orders now will be granted a shiny code for Steam too.