Real-time strategy games reside in the realm of genres that are characterized by having their most enjoyable experiences locked behind complexity. In order to truly feel the rush of making second to second strategic choices and having the reflexes to pull them off in Starcraft, you need to have spent hours and hours studying build orders, optimizing and practicing your hot key management, studying the meta game, and so much more. Until you get to that point, your intentions become lost in translation. You may want to strike early when your opponent is vulnerable or snipe off a key unit during the heat of battle, but it’s more likely that you’ll just flub the timing and embarrass yourself. You have the capability to be able able to engage with the game on a strategic, cognitive level but not on the mechanical or codified knowledge levels.
Fighting games, too, struggle with this problem. One solution came in the form of Dive Kick, a fighting game that only requires two buttons: ‘dive’ and ‘kick.’ Apple used Picasso’s The Bull as an example of taking something complex and reducing it to its most basic components, beautiful in the essentials. Dive Kick takes that to heart, boiling down the mechanical intricacies and mental gymnastics into two lone buttons, and succeeding wildly.
Interloper might be the RTS to help people cross over that gap, from complexity to simplicity. Instead of sprawling battlefields, Interloper‘s maps fit completely on one screen, making its minimal amount of information immediately available. Two opposing tadpole-looking aliens vie for control. There’s only one type unit to each army that can be used to attack, defend, or upgraded into more powerful troops. The art direction itself seems to do its best to make things distinct and comprehensible. Of course that’s mostly speculation because the game’s not even in beta yet and plenty is subject to change, but it would be lovely to have an RTS that didn’t require hours of study before you could begin to feel like a competent tactician. Here’s to hoping Interloper delivers.