Elraim Studio created an action roguelite inspired by titles like Vampire Survivors. Fellowship wants to take this genre to the next level.
Fellowship wants to put the genre on a next level of challenge. We won’t have just one character to manage but, among the choices of upgrades there will be new classes to choose from.
Let’s start to understand why a game like Vampire Survivors has been such a huge success. There are many factors including the gameplay, its intelligent and never frustrating level and game design, the synergies of the skills and the ability to “break” the game by transforming your character into a “war machine”.
As simple as these resolutions are, they are difficult to put into practice to create a perfect balance. The genre, although immediate, is difficult to manage due to the upgrades, the level of challenge proposed and the replayability.
Now let’s talk in detail about what Fellowship wants to offer. Not hiding how he still partially fails to do so.
Fellowship’s Basic Rules
Like any title of the genre, Fellowship is based on simple rules. We begin the adventure by choosing between three random characters who will have to face a horde of approaching enemies. As we defeat the enemies, they will drop gems which, once collected, will increase our experience bar. With each level increase we will be able to choose between three options: character skills, party skills and new character.
There will be no shortage of mid bosses who will drop treasures and specific objects to use once the game is over. In fact, regardless of success or defeat you can collect materials to improve your characters.
However, the player’s real skill will be to manage space, enemies, and not be too hasty in collecting power-ups. Understanding when it is better to suffer damage or when it is better to wait will make the difference between victory and defeat.
Level Management and Replayability
In the version that we were able to try we can play three levels of the game.
The basic structure of the levels consists, in addition to the hordes of enemies, in a timer that will progressively spawn 3 mid bosses. When the latter expires, the end-level boss will spawn. Defeating the boss at the end of the level will allow us to reach the next stage.
In addition to this we will have a secondary mission in which we will have to recover a key and free the character trapped in the level. Freeing the character will allow us to use him in our adventures. While exploring the level we will encounter small altars. By touching them we can have various effects including healing the party, increasing defense and speed, the ability to attract gems dropped by monsters and to fire on our enemies. We will also encounter altars that allow us to resurrect a dead party member.
Opponents will be able to drop objects and consumables that will help us manage the progression of the characters. For the rest, once the boss has been defeated or the character saved, the level doesn’t seem to offer anything else.
The Characters of Fellowship
The available characters can be divided between the classic representatives of the fantasy genre. For convenience we will divide them into ranged, melee and support.
In the ranged category we have the archer and the fire wizard, with the ability to hit opponents from a distance and do huge area damage. Melee focuses on short distances like the warrior, who doesn’t differ too much from the ranged ones, while the barbarian, in addition to damage, also has shouts to increase the attack of the whole party. The spearman, on the other hand, has a slightly greater range than the latter and with his shots he can pierce enemies and push them away, slowing them down. Support characters, who can be both ranged and melee, mostly serve to give bonuses to the party. The priest, as well as healing, blesses the party by increasing speed and slowing down enemies. The holy knight provides protection and damage reduction to the party.
In the specific section of class management we can assign various objects between one mission and another. There are equipment slots to assign and slots to put gems into to increase certain stats. The 3 skills that each character possesses are important: they can be enhanced using money found during missions.
Synergies and Abilities
During the game, at each level we will have to choose between 3 upgrades. For convenience we will divide them between group upgrades, individual upgrades and characters.
The group upgrades concern the attraction radius of gems and objects, while the other concerns the increase in party speed. Depending on the color of the upgrade we will have a higher percentage bonus.
The characters allow us to choose between one of the available classes.
Single upgrades unlock the abilities of the characters we have in the party. In fact, in addition to unlocking a class we will also have to activate its abilities. Repeatedly choosing the same skill increases its characteristics.
In Fellowship it is interesting how both the classes and the different skills can work in synergy with each other. Increasing a skill can in turn improve that of another class or give it bonuses. At the bottom of the screen we will be able to see the synergies developed. By choosing the right skills we can activate choral special moves, with different effects depending on the classes involved.
The latter can only be used when the blue bar under the experience point bar is full.
Formations, Progression and Map Management
Having control of multiple characters leads Fellowship to develop management of group dynamics. We can have a maximum of 5 characters at the same time. When we have more than three characters we can manage them in 3 different formations. A straight line, a V formation and a cross with a character in the center.
The first allows greater speed, the V-shaped one is an intermediate solution for speed with better damage output, while the cross-shaped one, although slow, allows you to heal the character in the center.
In each formation we can choose the leader. He also acts as a pivot to rotate the formation on itself to put the characters in the best way. In addition to this, you also need to manage the direction of the characters’ damage to hit and prevent enemy shots from hitting the targets.
To progress and improve the characters and their equipment, in addition to random drops there is also a forge. By merging at least three similar objects together and spending specific materials, we will be able to obtain one but of better quality.
My Two Cents
Fellowship is in early access and its very nature is still incomplete and imperfect, although the developers have added a lot of quality of life and made good changes. For now we have three areas to explore, with recovery missions and defeat of the main boss. Obviously it is not enough and this affects the replayability and the sense of secrets discovery, a fundamental point of the genre.
Farming, although improved, is still slow. Progressing the characters is expensive and the materials found in the game are still too small.
Managing multiple characters is not easy at all. Managing the damage output and at the same time try to avoid the enemie’s one is often a challenge. Especially when the map contains numerous environmental obstacles. Characters often get stuck or break formation due to obstacles and the difficulty, even one mistake is enough to compromise a game. The second and third maps, where there is fire damage over time, are still too punitive because the cheap damage. Also considering the fact that we will often be forced to pass among enemies because we have no way out. Speed is an important trait and often not getting it among the upgrades can be a problem. Even the 3 sprint avaialable are not enough to solve the situation. This, together with the sometimes too chaotic distribution of enemies, is one of the problems of the title.
However I don’t want to penalize the title too much. Despite the problems with balance, map resource, management and pathing, Fellowship is still an interesting challenge. By choice, he immediately raises the learning curve and we must quickly learn the useful skills and winning synergies with the right formation to overcome the challenges. I want to trust the title that with the right balances, corrections and increased content, can become a fun and satisfying as well as challenging title.
- Good gameplay ideas
- Good challenging level
- Balance and progression problems
- Map and pathing issues
- High learnig curve