Closers is one of the latest combatants entering the arena of online action hybrids coming out of Korea. Unlike more traditional “isometric view” ARPG style games, Closers is a side scrolling beat’em-up featuring a hybrid combat system, social hubs, and character classes with elements of RPG progression.
Many years ago, much of the earth was ravaged by interdimensional monsters.These beings emitted a phase energy that granted some humans psychic powers. Humans, with their new powers, battled and fought off these monsters driving them back in what is appropriately known as “The First Dimensional War”. The relentless monsters are back, pouring through portals in New Seoul.
This is where you come in. You’re a new recruit for one of the two factions, the high-tech Team Black Lambs owned by UNION Corp. or the edgy and oppressed Team Wolf Dogs operated by Vulture Corp. UNION runs Closers, an elite team of psychic aware humans that battle these monsters. Closers are recruited into service once they leave high school. Vulture Corp is the nefarious company manipulating events and using people for their own ends. They run the Special Disposal Unit.
At the start screen you’re given the option to pick one of many characters just like any other beat’em-up or arena brawler. The Black Lambs offer the following character roles – melee striker, mid-ranged caster, mobile ranger, support lancer, or melee fighter. Team Wolf Dog only has two classes unlocked at the moment, the ranged witch (a caster) and a melee hunter.
Each class has its own set of skills and abilities. Combat plays like a side scrolling fighter with combos, jumping, aerial attacks, and dodging but instead of strong and weak attacks woven together in a sequence, characters use skills.
The combat itself is satisfying with simple combos being easier. The attacks have a nice punch with knockbacks and stuns for finishers like you’d expect from a good fighting game. Plowing through trash monsters is easy with simple attacks, but that doesn’t work on bosses. For lieutenants and bosses, you’re going to need to execute skillful use of combos and consumables to win the fight.
The world itself is a series of hubs connected by fast travel. The hub maps are fairly small and feel a bit confining after playing a while. You will pick up quests, MMO styles, from NPCs as the main way to advance through the story and progression systems. These all tie in with the story but are just excuses to get you into the main gameplay loop – the mission. Mission maps often look different but feel and play much the same. When you interact with the mission panel it asks whether you want to find a party or go in solo.
The first few stages in the mission are typically waves of trash monsters leading up to a boss. As the game progresses and challenge increases more mini bosses start to populate each phase. Bosses have stacked armour and health bars that need to be brought down to zero before defeating it.
For some strange reason Closers chose to try and adopt MMO systems like crafting, housing, and gardening. In what world did someone think a fighting game needed… gardening. Housing isn’t particularly impressive either. It’s a single room with that is reminiscent of a Facebook Flash game. The same is true for the gardening area. Both of them feel bolted on to add more revenue points to leverage in the game. They don’t add much to the core gameplay loop but are systems players will feel compelled to manage in order to maintain their A-game or competitive advantage.
Crafting and gear are intertwined and feel built to generate revenue. There is an enhancement and enchantment system that serves to increase gear power and to modify its attributes. Your main weapon has a core and then many support trinkets that add more stats to your character. Each of the modules plus the main weapon core can be enchanted.
Costumes comprise the other half of the gear equation. These come in two flavors, time-limited and permanent, and provide both a cosmetic change and a stat boost. Costumes have their own stats and upgrade and enhancement system like the one in place for your weapon and its mods.
In addition to those crafting activities you can break down weapons and gear into core materials. These also drop sometimes from bosses and minibosses in some missions. If you collect enough of these materials you can craft costumes, consumables, event items, and mini lootcrates. In the early game this doesn’t come into play as much.
But wait, that’s not all. There are pets that you can raise to help you in combat. These pets gain levels too and need to be evolved. You don’t do much with the pet. You get a couple pets through NPC quests and they do their job without much interaction during combat. It’s back at the hub where pet management takes place. The pet works great during combat, but maintenance system once again seems geared toward spending money.
And this is where the game comes unraveled a bit. There is a good fighting game underneath a suffocating layer of revenue generating systems and design tropes that distract from the core gameplay loop. When I play other fighting games I’m focusing on kicking ass and taking names not gardening. The game is built around a narrative that is often cringeworthy one moment and hilarious the next, but ultimately distracting from what it means to be a fighting game.
A couple other annoyances and performance issues pull the game down somewhat. Loading screens take forever, almost literally. I moved the game from my hard drive to my 850EVO and it did make a difference, but not big enough. It just takes too long to load up the game or into the various mission screens. The default key mapping and controller functionality is a nightmare where you need to use the keyboard for some interactions and the controller for others.
Ultimately Closers is a fun beat’em up full of fast-paced furious action that is pulled down by a ton of baggage. Closers is F2P so you should try it out for yourself if you’re a fan of fighting games. You can install it from their Steam Store page. Let us know in the comments your Closers experience.