Apr 12, 2022 - Technology

Dungeon crawler MythForce taps into 1980s cartoon nostalgia

Game screenshot showing four fantasy characters on a hill with three other faces in the sky behind.
Image: Beamdog

Elder millennial nostalgia and modern multiplayer trends collide in MythForce, a new game announced today from Edmonton-based studio Beamdog, Axios’ Peter Allen Clark reports.

What’s happening: MythForce, Beamdog’s first original title, is a first-person, high fantasy, co-operative, rouge-like dungeon crawler. And it’s all wrapped in an art style that’s straight out of 1980s cartoons.

Details: Like Left 4 Dead, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 or Deep Rock Galactic, MythForce is a c0-op game for one to four players. You pick a character with unique abilities, and set off on a self-contained mission.

  • There’s loot to find that can upgrade your character mid-mission and occasional hordes of monsters that make things tricky.
  • And there's an overarching progression that lets players unlock perks and gear that can be carried over from mission to mission.

But it’s the art style of MythForce that really makes it stand out from the competition.

  • From the technical aspects of the 3D models to the enemy design, it’s easy to see a deep affection for cartoons like “Thundercats” or “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe”

“[Game director Luke Rideout] had the genius idea to try and theme it around ‘80s cartoons,” Beamdog COO Kael Nicholson said in an interview last month.

  • “He’s a big ‘He-Man’ fan, and he's got a couple of [animation] cels in his office. And we've always nerded out over stuff like Don Bluth, ‘Sword in the Stone,’ Dragon's Lair, of course. So we really wanted to try and take that on.”

Along with the style, some of MythForce’s game design might also be attractive to older players: there’s a real focus on shorter, bite-sized missions that don’t ask a lot of time.

  • “We wanted something that was kind of session playable. It's the thing you play between rounds of Elden Ring, right?” Nicholson said. “It’s something that you can just kind of jam into with your friends and not have to worry about you do next, because as parents some of us don’t have that time anymore.”
  • Still, the Beamdog team said they thought MythForce could appeal to all ages, including those who didn’t have to wait for Saturday mornings to watch cartoons.

I played MythForce while attending GDC last month. I chose the archer character, and did the best I could to fend off sword-swinging skeletons and poisonous bi-pedal mushrooms.

  • Teamwork plays a big role, in helping out teammates who are overwhelmed, or reviving them if they fall.
  • I, an elder millennial, was predictably entranced by the presentation. The developers said they put a lot of work into honoring the art style, and what I played made that seem like an understatement.

“We're always trying to like capture that feeling of like sitting around with your friends and just jamming on something,” Nicholson said.

  • “And you know, if anyone has that feeling like they're sitting down in front of their TV on Saturday morning with a bowl of sugary cereal and their parents are in bed reading a newspaper, then I'm a happy camper.”

What’s next: MythForce’s first episode, “Bastion of the Beastlord,” will come to the Epic Games Store exclusively, in early access, on April 20.

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