There’s a lot of fondness for classic 1980s Saturday morning cartoons like He-Man, Thundercats and Transformers. Shows like these have had an immense impact on pop culture. One such thing that seeks to pay homage is the new action game MythForce, which brings the high-energy and colorful aesthetic of ’80s cartoons into the realm of a co-op focused role-playing game.
In MythForce, you play as the titular crew of hunters, mages and rogues who team up to face down an evil force that’s taken over the land. You and other friends online can boost your character’s strength and gain loot to customize them further during your adventures through forests, dungeons and ancient ruins.
MythForce is being released soon into early access on April 20 as an Epic Game Store exclusive. Just ahead of its release, I got to play the game with members of developer Beamdog at GDC 2022 and took part in the experience of playing an interactive Saturday morning cartoon.
Having worked on the Baldur’s Gate series at Bioware in the past, the developers at Beamdog created MythForce as a change of pace from more traditional role-playing games. Moving away from the turn-based, tactical gameplay of their previous role-playing, MythForce is a first-person action RPG that has you and other players fighting through dungeons and taking down bosses.
Besides paying homage to classic 1980s animation, MythForce also feels deeply rooted in the framework of an old-school game of Dungeons & Dragons—another ’80s favorite. In the beginning, I got to choose from one of four different classes, such as the traditional hunter, mage, rogue or paladin. From here, you can customize your hero abilities and attributes, with your arsenal expanding further as you level up.
If you’ve played games that focus heavily on cooperative gameplay, like Warhammer: Vermintide or Left 4 Dead, you’ll get a sense of the flow that MythForce follows. During our dungeon run, we fought groups of goblins and killer mushrooms who spew poison. It was exciting to work together to take down enemies and gain loot. While I would have liked the pacing to be a bit faster, I liked the amount of action that went down in each area of the dungeon, and it was very satisfying making it out of each challenge with a bag full of loot.
What really stuck out for me with MythForce was the sense of style and the attention to detail packed into it. Having grown up with reruns of classic cartoons from the 1980s, the different levels and monsters we encountered in our missions were total. It really felt like I jumped into an interactive Don Bluth animated film. That sense of nostalgia that you bring into the game can certainly heighten the game’s vibe, but it works on its own. There are really not many games out there with such a colorful and playful vibe.
As an early access game, MythForce’s release on April 20 will feature four different characters and the game’s first major episode to play. This episode includes procedurally generated levels to explore and monsters to fight. With each class having its own playstyle and abilities, you can spend a lot of time going on different dungeons with other classes and groups. Though if you’re looking to play solo, then MythForce offers that as well.
The dev team at Beamdog stated that they’re committed to fleshing out the game further with new episodes and additional members to the roster. This week, it was announced that publisher Aspyr, which is also publishing MythForce, has acquired Beamdog. This is to not only continue plans with growing MythForce but also to work on another new game.
For now, MythForce is a nice start for the developer. So far, the action RPG will only be available on PC via the Epic Games Store, but there are plans in the future for a release on consoles.
It’s always appreciated to see a game that bucks the trend of sword and sorcery games with a gritty and bleak aesthetic in favor of a more fun and vibrant atmosphere that evokes the style of a cartoon. This makes it feel more inviting, but it also makes it feel more visually interesting to see in action. It’s one I want to explore more of in the future, and it’ll be exciting to see where this game goes next with future updates.