TA@EGX - Strength of the Sword: Ultimate Interview

By Rebecca Smith, 2 years ago
Most people would associate Team 17 as a developer of popular franchises such as Worms and Alien Breed. However, in 2007 the company also made a move into publishing. One of the many games that they will be publishing in the future is Ivent Games' Strength of the Sword: ULTIMATE. Players take on the role of a War Golem who is "magically powered by awesomeness and destruction". He needs to beat multiple enemies simultaneously and epic bosses if he is to beat the rising evil that is sweeping across the realm.

The 3D brawler with a brutal difficulty level is a remake of Strength of the Sword 3 that was originally released for Playstation 3. If you have any intentions of button mashing to try and get you through the game's stages, you would be sorely mistaken. Players need to be patient, anticipate their enemies' moves and make sure that they're not outwitted. The game aims to envoke the feeling of actually beating it, rather than merely reaching the finishing line.

At the game's previous appearance at a convention, only 30 people managed to get through all three levels of the demo and beat the boss. Of those 30 people, only eight managed to do this without dying once and unlock the bonus level. Just one person beat the bonus level and, even then, it took six attempts to beat it. I wasn't going to be one of those people at EGX. While I only got far enough to knock the boss' health below 50%, I did salvage TA's honour by grabbing an interview with Ivent Games' Lyubomir Iliev:


Why did you decide to bring a new version of Strength of the Sword 3 to a bigger audience?

First of all, we messed up with Strength of the Sword 3 because we brought it out way too late. We spent way too much time in development trying to make things just perfect and making the best game possible. When the game was released, the Playstation 3 was just running down. A couple of months before that they had announced the Playstation 4 and sales on the Playstation 3 just plummeted. When we got the game out, even though we got decent previews, we couldn't get an audience.

After spending five years developing a game and you finally bring it out and nobody sees it, I just thought: "I just want people to see this, I don't even want your money". We could have charged just $1 on the Playstation Store but there was nothing. It was dead. My colleagues and I took a year out before starting to work on this game. We thought that we needed to put a lot of effort back into this and we needed to bring it to a new audience.

Screenshot 1

What new content can players anticipate in this new game?

The original game had very limited customisation options. You could only choose a shield and a sword out of five shields and five swords. Now we're going to make the character customisable. You can change things like your armour type, your shoulders, or your feet. Every piece of gear changes your stats and some of them even bring in a new attack or a specific movement option. They all change gameplay in one way, shape or form. We now have seven shields, more swords and a lot of armour types.

Here we're just showing two pre-made builds but in reality you're going to be able to customise everything. At the end of every level you are awarded points and you can spend those on whatever you want. We've re-done the whole combat system to account for the character customisation. You can change your attack speed, your movement speed or your health.


We've also extended the AI. We have a very advanced AI system that is constantly watching what you are doing and is forming tactics to counter you. Now it sees the form that you build. If you go into the battle with very little health but a lot of damage, the AI will form a tactic where the heavier enemy will try to attract the aggro while the smaller enemies that deal the most damage will try to flank you.

We're bringing in the multiplayer, both PvP and co-op, local and online. We've also got the new Dark Mode, which is an extension of PvP. One of the players is playing this overpowered weird character called the Dark Knight. We're not going to give any tutorials on how to use all of that power. The other character is playing the regular War Golem and he knows exactly what he is doing. We're pitting a character with less power but full control against somebody with no control and great power. It's going to be a weird asymmetrical game. We're going to offer it to the community and see how it works out.

Screenshot 2

We are going to extend the story mode through these little sub-stories from the Dark Gods. They're going to be single level story-driven campaigns. When you descend into the realm, a couple of Dark Gods are released because you have defeated the Dark mechanism that is the evil that took over the land at the beginning of the game. We're trying to explore what we can do with the game's lore.

The game offers a survival mode that pits players against 40 waves of enemies and the clock. In a recent update, you said that players had only managed to get as far as wave 36. Has anybody managed to beat the mode yet?

I got up to wave 38 but that's as far as I get. I'm playing with a build that is very heavy on crowd control because in survival mode, the more you advance the more that crowd control becomes important. I'm playing the best build that I can create for crowd control and I get up to that point and it's impossible. I'm assuming that nobody is going to beat the 40 waves, but if somebody does, it's probably going to be someone who has played the game for two months straight and nothing else.

Screenshot 3

You had a successful Kickstarter campaign in February. Has that changed anything in terms of the game's development?

We really wanted to do the multiplayer before but we didn't have the power, so we thought that we'll do the multiplayer now. We launched a Kickstarter for $14,000 just to get the couple of months that we needed to finish it up. When we did the Kickstarter, we thought that we'd have a few stretch goals. Then we hit all of them and we were thinking "curses!" Now we have to make it for everything, otherwise we were just going to make it for PC. With PC, we're never going to have the problem where people move onto the next machine. When you release on PC, it doesn't matter if you're late or early.

Ivent Games is a small team. Has that presented any development challenges?

Yes. We've worked up to 20 hours a day and it's been like that for seven years. But you can see how games that are only made by two people usually look, such as 8-bit nostalgic graphics. We have ambitions that make us produce something like this. For our next project, we're hoping that there will not be so much pressure on us. We'll extend the team a little.

Finally, when can we expect to get our hands on the game?

We're hoping for February.
Rebecca Smith
Written by Rebecca Smith
Rebecca is the Newshound Manager at TrueGaming Network. She has been contributing articles since 2010, especially those that involve intimidatingly long lists. When not writing news, she works in an independent game shop so that she can spend all day talking about games too. She'll occasionally go outside.