Halfway – What We Think:
Halfway’s story is set in a future where interstellar travel has been achieved through the invention of a faster-than-light drive technology. Unfortunately, ships are starting to mysteriously disappear while using this advancement, and it’s beginning to look like something strange is happening when vessels are in transit. You control a group of people on board a starship which encounters this phenomenon. You must lead them in a fight for survival whilst unraveling the truth of what is happening to ships during their long distance journeys.
Thanks to the sweeping success of the XCOM remake, tactical turn-based combat has enjoyed a return to the spotlight and some renewed attention in the gaming industry. That being said, it hasn’t exactly exploded in popularity and it is still considered a niche interest, so it is always good to see a strong new contender for our strategizing diversion. Halfway is one such contender that comes with nicely polished features.
Lock and Load Screen
Halfway begins with a relatively gentle introduction to the action, but it doesn’t get bogged down in tutorials, quickly explaining how to get things done before dropping you into some intense turn-based combat. The typical turn-based system is present here with characters able to perform two actions per turn, one or both of which may be moving a set distance determined by their agility stat. Attacking takes up one of your two actions and you may sacrifice the other in order to aim (thus increasing your chance to hit your target). Knowing when to maneuver your survivors and when to take advantage of the aim ability makes for some tricky decisions.
In addition to the usual move, shoot, aim dynamic, each character has a unique active ability with a turn-based cooldown. Most of these are quite useful such as one character’s ability to heal herself without a medkit and another’s guaranteed critical hit power. Medkits and ammunition packs must be used to replenish health and firepower, respectively, and these are not exactly plentiful. Halfway does a good job of creating a pressing sense that resources aren’t to be squandered whilst avoiding the pitfall of being too harsh.
Halfway is stern with its difficulty, and indie game developers Robotality have made no compromises in providing a challenge. This is especially true with combat accuracy; I think the developers and I have a very different idea of what a 70% chance to hit means. It often feels like the survivors are pretty poor shots compared to the enemy, but this just forces you to use every advantage to get the upper hand.
Stop and Smell the Cargo Containers
The visuals of Halfway feature some attractive pixel art that expertly paints a picture of a massive starship riddled with dark corners and old crates. The art of Halfway brings to mind some familiar sci-fi tropes, but it does so very well. The music is also excellent, invoking a dark and despair-inducing atmosphere that helps the player to empathize with the plight of the characters.
Halfway manages to craft an engaging scenario within which its action can take place. The combat itself is enjoyable and while some may find the difficulty to be a little bracing the challenge is well balanced. Supported by some impressive art and music, Halfway’s survival story aligns neatly with its gameplay and makes for a worthy entry in the turn-based tactics genre.
Watch the trailer for Halfway below: