in an early demo Fortune run (opens in new tab)the FPS that recently appeared at the Realms Deep digital event, and I walked into a sci-fi nightclub with more character and world-building than every dive in Night City.
The demo’s single level, Trouble at Club V’heni, begins with a different character from the main character, Mozah, infiltrating the titular nightclub. Playing as this nameless antagonist, you sneak through the bar and its surrounding area to the VIP lounge at the back.
Then back to Mozah’s perspective, chatting with V’heni’s Mos Eisley Cantina-esque clientele. You can ask the dancers how they’ve dealt with the recent political upheaval, chat with left-wing revolutionaries in bars, and engage in roaring contest-type thugs with some who are not at all Bossk-From-Empire-Strikes-Back.
It’s an incredibly small sci-fi space, and during the three plays of the demo, the music and atmosphere blew my mind. After chatting with club owner and ex-revolutionary buddy Z’tar and back in the back, you realize your contact has been assassinated (by another guy in the playable intro) and the dope club you’ve just enjoyed is under attack Fascist forces, federation.
Club V’heni is an expansive playground with multiple paths to goals, creative shortcuts, and tons of little details in an immersive simulation game style.It reminds me of most of the levels in the Jedi FPS series, or Arkane’s early gem, the dark messiah of Might and Magic (opens in new tab)In fact, V’heni feels like a nod to Nar Shaddaa’s renditions of the Hutt city planet in Dark Forces, Jedi Knight and Jedi Exiles, with squalid tavern interiors and vertiginous interiors. The exterior parts are in stark contrast. Especially the scene involving the snipers on the adjacent rooftop feels like it was straight out of Outcast.
The star of Fortune’s Run’s arsenal is its katana melee weapon, which feels like it’s built on the superb lightsaber mechanics of Jedi games. You have to time your strikes and obfuscate your target on the enemy’s body to confuse their guards, block their attacks in turn, and even parry bullets with a well-timed swing.
You’re not as invincible as you would be with the auto-parry lightsaber from the Jedi series, but it’s better for my money – bringing a sword to a gunfight in Fortune Run is intense and exhilarating, Success or failure is balanced on the edge of the knife (or space katana). A big part of bringing me back to the demo is this addictive, pulse-pounding combat, Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengeance-level cyborg ninja fantasy that all cool and normal people have.
You’re pretty vulnerable in Fortune’s Run, but luckily it loads Hotline Miami quickly (at least on my SSD). Unlike recent immersive sims like Gloomwood (opens in new tab) Run of Fortune, which has done away with quick savings entirely, enshrined it as a tactic, encouraging trial and error in its firefights. I especially appreciate the little death loop/Prince of Persia-esque rewind animation that loads and plays quickly. The demo is rarely autosaved, so spam F5 is a must. These crazy encounters never seem to play out the same way twice, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t discovered every secret of this map, hence the endless replays.
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The writing and world building in this little gameplay segment exceeded all my expectations. Protagonist Mozah, a failed revolutionary turned corporate samurai, is released to work after serving a 10-year prison sentence. Bar owner Z’tar and other patrons at the establishment suggest something is wrong with the job, a revolutionary act that has resulted in mass deaths. The oppressive but prosperous federation is about to quit the game’s New Zabra, promising freedom but also a power vacuum and political instability. Most of the bar’s wealthy patrons have left, and Z’tar joins the group of ideologically ambiguous revolutionaries who trade his supply connections for their power.I found it all true tangible World building, something as historic as Disco Elysium, complemented by naturalistic dialogue and superb voice acting.
Fortune’s Run’s brings incredible art direction to the cast of characters with incredible art direction – it really feels the sloppy weirdness of the old Star Wars Extended Universe. Its alien species takes a lot of cues from the rubbery practicality of old Star Wars, with protagonist Mozah feeling very close to Twi’lek. The characters all have the eerie clay look of 3D models and are captured as sprites, and the whole shebang has a true “lost 90s masterpiece” vibe.
There are some pain points in the demo. Like the Jedi games, I sometimes had a hard time knowing where to go next. After a fight, I might find every door locked and have to spend a few minutes finding a window sill with a broken or blocked vent cover to climb on. It’s a stylistic choice that suits me best – rough edges grip better after all – but having one particular jumping puzzle still feels more like a sequence break than the game’s intended path. The way forward is not particularly well-marked, and the sequence requires some Fate Raid-level navigation of the wall geometry to make it through a deadly fall from a strange fenced silo.
I still get hot and cold with the game’s wall jumps, an important tool for dealing with its verticality and the occasional platforming puzzle.The Fortune team has published a handy guide Twitter The changes and inputs needed to bounce off the wall like a pro helped me with the demos that followed. Still, I felt it had reached the level of fighting game combo input memory, and there were a few times I felt like I should cover a ledge rather than fall to my death.
Even with this warning, Run of Fortune instantly jumped to the top of my personal wanted list, surpassing even Fear and Delusion (opens in new tab) And went head-to-head with the unannounced but inevitable Elden Ring expansion in my silly little consumer fan cosmology. I long for more of this world, the game’s fantastic imm-sim-lite exploration, and engaging sword fighting. The early access to Act 1 really didn’t come fast enough for me – I guess it’s time to pass Club V’heni for the last time.