PAX Rising: March March!
The PAX Rising booth was loaded with amazing games, from It's a Wrap! to Kaiju Wars. But on the last day of PAX West, there was a special game tucked within the booths, profound not just in its design but from the people who made it. Coming from Ukraine-based Lepka Games is March March! a game that is described as "Slay the Spire meets Tetris."
March March! arranges warriors in a grid. Some are close-combat knights, while others are brutes with more armored. Some are mages and archers with ranged combat. The goal is simple: Get several members of your army across the line of defense and crush the enemy morale. Whoever gets the most soldiers across the line wins. It's a methodical battle of wits, aggression, and wise maneuvering, all to a delightful, colorful look.
March March! was inspired by the engaging and enthralling gameplay mechanics of Slay the Spire, combining two elements of existing genres and then molding them together into a new kind of game. Slay the Spire combined turn-based battles, roguelikes, and a card combat system, making for a game that could lock players in for many hours. A telltale sign of a great game is a game that consistently encourages you to play again. If you've ever played a game and felt compelled to play just "one more time," that is the sign of a strong gameplay mechanic. Not every game is for everyone, and every player has preferences for what kind of games they play. Nevertheless, that compelled feeling is still a golden sign of a gameplay mechanic that is polished and well-thought for the player. March March! had that kind of style to itself.
In March March!, the player's army is lined up along a grid. The armies fall on the grid from left to right, similar to tetriminos. It's up to the player to select how they fall and what special perks to apply. As for the fighting, March March! does the rest. There are nine different classes of fights, from pawns to elites. There isn't control over what you are given, and choices must be made based on battlefield conditions. Players, however, can upgrade their forces between battles, as well as gain access to perks, such as magic spells and obstacles. In my demo, I used wooden spike barricades to block incoming forces. Additionally, I had access to a fireball spell that rained fire on several grid tiles but required a cooldown.
March March! took some getting used to. It's fast-paced, which leaves little time to think, yet that was a quick way to defeat. It's a puzzler requiring not just problem solving but tactical thinking. Knowing enemy units, properly deploying those units, and using spells are important. At times, March March! felt like a war of attrition as rounds would pass before a good opening would open up. After a few moments, I got used to the combat, and that's when March March! really opens up.
It's quick and addictive, smooth yet dangerous. March March! is [unpredictable, but that makes the gameplay all the more exciting. Every switch of the tile can be victory or death. Every spell or special item deployment can be useful but can embolden the enemy. The cartoon-inspired visuals make for a visually appealing experience. There's a victory and a defeat. A win and a loss. There is a sensation in the back of your mind that says, "let me just play one more time."
March March! is remarkable in that it isn't anything I have played before. It's a puzzle and strategy game rolled into something new. Perhaps most remarkable are the people who made it, Lepka Games. Lepka Games are based in Ukraine, and as the war in Ukraine rages, they are forced to stay within the country due to the war and Ukrainian Constitutional Law. As the war continues and the region's future remains unclear, it is a testament to courage, strength, and selflessness to see the team working on the game. Game development is incredibly hard, even without ongoing war, and to see Lepka Game determined to make the best game they want to make is an honorable endeavor.
Games have been there during the darkest and roughest moments of anyone's life, whether it's a personal tragedy to a global happening in the modern day. In times of darkness, games can remind us there is a better world to forge and fight for and new memories to create. Memories of hope and laughter. Memories of family and warmth. Memories of positive light shine onto others in the world. Video games have the means to encourage hope, even if the game itself doesn't necessarily say so. March March! is already winning hearts over, and the game isn't even officially out yet.
March March! is shaping to be the next big thing. It will be sometime before the game launches, but the uniqueness of the gameplay, coupled with an easy-to-learn and hard-to-master gameplay mechanic, makes March March! will have players marching onwards for a long enjoyable time. March March! a strong game to look out for in the coming months. March March! will have players marching onwards for a long enjoyable time
March March! launches in early access in 2023. Wishlist is now available on Steam.