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Fray

Fray Screenshot - 842029

Building a game from the ground up with a new engine is always serious business, especially when money and time is on the line. French developer Brain Candy Studio is a small one (with only eight members to their name), but they are working hard on an upcoming strategy game set in a dystopian Paris inspired by the movie Blade Runner. Fray, as of now, is still a little ways off from completion, but the team was eager to show what this PC/Mac game is can do.

Set in 2098, Fray is pretty dark and miserable. People use simulations as a way to escape from the grim reality of their world. Three mega corporations—Aros, CronaCorp, and Magtyde Industries—own everything, including the simulated worlds people play in.

Once players engage in gameplay, they discover that the most popular sport in the future is a tactical turn-based shooter. While the best players in the world compete for fame and fortune, this isn’t your typical recreation. The battles take place in futuristic versions of real-world cities such as Paris. It appears that players are supposed to fall into the fiction of the world and actually embody a character. While it doesn’t feel fresh thematically, Fray is certainly a good-looking game that exploits everything the popular Unity Engine 3 has to offer.

At the start, players can control four units out of six. Each of these units balance the others out, so players need to be smart when picking their troops. Since only four can be picked, there will always be some weakness exposed. Each unit can be customized, and each one can utilize any of the thirty weapons, armor, and bonuses. These range from a mine thrower to a magmatic cannon, which vaporizes enemy soldiers.

The stage we were shown is a realistic future version of Paris. The familiar architecture of the Latin Quarter is instantly familiar, but the lighting effects from the nearby neon signs and the ambient glow from warning barriers around a crater indicate something is not right in the city. Brain Candy is working very hard to get the most of out the Unity Engine 3, and their choice in platform might suggest future plans for the franchise outside of PC and Mac.

Laid out on the streets are hexagonal points troops can run to. Thousands of points are available on this grid, and players must order their troops to different defensive and offensive locations. Gameplay is certainly unique. Designed with online multiplayer in mind, Fray doesn't occur in real-time. Rather, it's a turn-based game: Once each player has given order to their troops, then all units move. Fray is a game of anticipation, and much like Rock, Paper, Scissors, guessing your opponent’s next move requires luck, bluffs, and skill. With up to four players able to join in and a visibility-limiting “Fog of War,” Fray promises to be a very exciting and surprising multiplayer experience.

Fray is also coming with three chapters in the single-player: one for each corporation, as well as three different game modes in the multiplayer. The title is still in an early stage of development, as Fray will not be launching until late this year, with a beta releasing sometime this summer. AS with most contemporary games, DLC is most certainly planned.

Considering only eight members are developing Fray, color me impressed with what they have accomplished so far. They have a distinct approach to strategy gaming, and the Unity Engine provides a lot of flexibility in porting the game to future devices. If all goes according to schedule, Brain Candy will have a title worth paying attention to later this year.

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Ben PerLee
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