What if you took Zelda, and evolved it into a PvP (player-vs-player) slugfest with a plethora of features, customisation options, and even procedurally generated levels? It might look something like “Grand Class Melee”.
The game dispenses with the story mode here, and goes right to the melee combat that many people end up playing once beating the campaign mode in games with a mix of both solo and multiplayer gaming. This is no “Golden Axe”, there are character attributes to choose from here and skill trees to explore as you develop your character, and you’re free to mix and match and see what you can come up that doesn’t neatly fit into any fantasy archetype. In fact, there are 60 classes to start with, 60 abilities to choose from, before customisation even begins. As you would expect, the more skills you develop, the less developed each one will end up being. There are also primary and secondary weapons and abilities, and they have a surprising amount of variety and depth (for example, you might have two variants of the same power, one that targets a specific enemy and one that’s an area effect attack).
The procedurally (aka, randomly) generated levels help guarantee replay value, and the environmental elements are more than mere window dressing (such as using a rock or a tree as cover while someone fires attacks at you). There are weather effects too, that further mix things up. The game lets you play with any combination of AI or human players, and both team-based and free-for-all modes are available. The team-based was fun as you can delve into the skill trees in complementary ways; one player could focus on developing attack ability while their partner plumbs the depths of the defensive and healing abilities, for example, or one player could focus on improving their ranged attacks while their compatriot develops power close-in abilities.
The AI seems good (it probably helps that the large number of combinations of classes and abilities makes it more difficult to predict AI behaviour), and it’s well worth the 80 Microsoft Points for fans of the hack-and-slash genre.
Here’s what the developer (Gigatross Games) has to say about the game:
“Grand Class Melee is a 4-player action game centered around multiplayer combat. Advance through 8 different rounds of combat and 60 unique character classes to achieve victory. Combine your class’s ability with abilities you’ve gained in previous rounds to create hundreds of ability combinations and strategies to suit your combat style!”