Closers (Alpha) - PC Preview

Closers shows excellent synergy between fast-paced action and immersive role-playing with its various characters and intuitive combo system.

  • System: PC
  • Publisher: En Masse Entertainment, Inc.
  • Developer: Naddic Games
  • Release Date: TBD
  • Pricing:Free-to-play
  • Genre: Action, side-scroller, role-playing game
  • Players: 1 - 4 players in a party (PVE), 1 vs. 1 (PVP), and later 3 vs. 3 (PVP)
  • Official Website: https://closers.enmasse.com/

Who it Caters to/What to Expect

Closers is a free-to-play Korean game that is getting localized for Western audiences. Various mission types, PVP, a combo system that is intuitive, and a huge variety of upcoming characters makes Closers a unique package for fans of the action genre. Gamers searching for an online community to play co-op or compete against and players aiming to enjoy a frenzied action, role-playing game will find their home in Closers.

The Closers are On the Way (Official Announce Trailer)

Story

Humanity’s survival against interdimensional monsters rests in the hands of Closers, humans who show symptoms of the Phase Force, an individual’s unique abilities that can repel the Dimensionals. Years after the first Dimensional War, the survivors of the first conflict form UNION, an organization that heads the fight against Dimensionals. Deep within the conflict, you must now enter the next stage of the Dimensional War.

Characters/Customization

One of the most enjoyable aspects of Closers is its level of customization. While customization is not unique to Closers, other action online RPGs have certainly allowed its players to design their characters to fit their game and aesthetic preferences, I believe that how much an individual enjoys Closers heavily depends on how much they identify and enjoy the character they play.

Unsurprisingly, as the nature of online RPGs take a lot of time (grinding for experience, finding relevant equipment from drops, fighting strong bosses, synergizing with your party members, etc.), you are making a large commitment of time, energy, emotions, and thoughts. Due to this investment, it’s not uncommon to find yourself identifying with a character’s playstyle and story. Closers is a game that requires you to do that because of its gameplay decisions.

Unlike similar action online RPGs, Closers does not allow you to modify a character’s skill path. This means that when I choose Sylvi, my Sylvi will have the same skills as every Sylvi of a similar level (although players can invest points or attach equipment to make certain skills more effective). I cannot go down a different path that favors projectiles or another path that might favor close combat. It’s for this reason that it’s important that a player picks a character that fits them. If you don’t enjoy a character, then your motivation to invest in the game will be low.

As much as possible, Closers wants to help players invest themselves. Each squad member having a well-defined playstyle that can help your party in story missions or fight in player-versus-player battles. Character customization is limited at the beginning, but through costume drops, crafting, and cash items, players can vary their outfit, character portrait, and the visuals of certain skills. If a player does find a character they enjoy, there’s enough to keep them interested.

One of the things missing from this current (alpha) version of Closers is the in-game application of character movies. Initially, the original Korean game also didn’t do this for the Black Lambs (the only squad available in alpha), but for later characters who join the game, character movies are shown after their creation. This decision to add in-game movies was a smart one, and it really helps players feel a sense of attachment to the characters.

One of the critiques I have of the game is how the early story isn’t particularly interesting. Understandably, the early sections of the game act as a tutorial, and they help explain multiple important mechanics. Keeping the tension low lets players absorb these ideas without being too distracted, and while the story is there, at the current moment, this version of Closers has the initial characters all go through the same motions, same tutorials, and same initial city.

However, this changes later. In the Korean version of the game, character movies are introduced to help mitigate the dryness of the early sections. Their excellent editing and introspection into each character help players identify with a character. Although the beginning section will still start in Gangnam, depending on your character’s affiliation (their squad) the NPC’s can change, giving a different perspective of the conflict. If you’re a person who needs to be immersed in a story to enjoy a game, I highly suggest you check out the story trailers for each individual Black Lamb member.

Gameplay

Player-Versus-Enemy Missions

As you progress through the game, new cities unlock and thus new missions relevant to that location. Generally, upon completing all the missions available for a location, very few missions will appear there again, creating a steady direction and flow for where players will go as they hit higher levels. There are a total of 5 mission types and they are defined as:

  • Epic Mission: These missions are missions that are story-relevant. By finishing them, you progress through the story and get closer to unlocking the next area.
  • Ordinary Mission: These missions are considered “side quests.” These missions aren’t required to progress the story, but just like Epic Missions, the experience and item rewards incentivize players to do them.
  • Promotion Mission: Once players hit a certain level, they are able to upgrade their character to a different rank. Characters begin as the “Trainee” rank, and as they get to higher levels, they are able to upgrade to “Novice Agent,” “Regular Agent,” and finally “Special Agent.” Each rank unlocks more character active and passive skills.
  • Union Watch (Daily Mission): The Union Watch is a daily quest system. It acts like a checklist where once you’ve completed all requirements asked of you, you will receive a “Lucky Phase Token,” an item used to craft goods and accessories.
  • Repeatable Mission: These missions, as the name implies, are repeatable. Completing these quests allow players to convert enemy drops into usable items.

Each mission helps create variety and goals as players fight enemies. Enemy types vary between species and sizes and change depending on which area in the game you’re located.

Generally, stages will have you fighting against enemies until you’ve reached the ending boss. Defeat the boss and you complete the mission. Some stages can have mid-bosses as well, and depending on the boss or enemy, their armor value (the higher the number, the more resistant the foe) determine whether your combo’s effectiveness and whether certain attacks will stun them. The moment you’ve completed a stage, you’re given a rank based on three factors: Time (the time spent during the mission), Defense (damage taken when you’re not in super armor), and Technique (the game’s way of scoring your combos). Having a high rank is determined by a low Time/Defense value and a high Technique value, and high ranks give your more rewards at the end of a stage.

The Fatigue System

This might be a make-or-break deal for players: the fatigue system. Progress is limited based on the accumulation of fatigue. Most story-based missions will accumulate fatigue and once it hits a max value, players will be unable to continue the story. During the alpha event, character fatigue limit was 270 and the account fatigue limit was 440. While the fatigue system is generous, the average mission requiring 10 fatigue points, it is also account locked, meaning switching to a different character will not allow you to navigate around account fatigue limitations. For a rough estimate on how much fatigue limits play, you will be playing roughly 4 - 6 hours per character (assuming you do not ignore story text).

Luckily, Closers has several aspects that rewards dedicated players. If you’re concerned about being limited by the fatigue system, there are other gameplay aspects that are available once your fatigue is maxed out.

Note: It was announced on En Masse Entertainment’s twitch channel that they are reviewing community feedback. They might be changing the fatigue system to be a weekly reset, meaning you will have an entire week’s worth of fatigue to use at once, and you can do a major amount of gameplay in a short amount of time. This allows for players to use the rest of the week to relax if they are only able to play on certain days.

Player-Versus-Player

At the current moment, PVP is 1 vs. 1 (but will later include 3 vs. 3), and accumulating enough wins can net players with various prizes--one of the most important is the stamina potion. Certain stamina potions allow players to reduce their account fatigue, meaning even if you’ve hit the max limit for your account, you can still keep playing after using certain stamina potions. Also, during certain parts of the day, an event called “Power Hour” occurs, allowing players to gain even larger rewards. This emphasis on a cost-free PVP creates a very stable competitive environment that rewards players for understanding their character not just in PVE but against other opponents as well.

Special Sectors

The “Special Sectors” (also known as Doppel Ganger) are another aspect that doesn’t require fatigue points. You could enter these 5 special sectors once you’ve hit certain level requirements. During the alpha event, the first 3 sectors could be entered a total of 5 times each while the 4th and 5th sectors could be entered 3 times each. This means even with maxed fatigue, you still have 21 runs to do per day. By finishing these sectors, players are awarded crafting materials. The description of the Special Sectors are as follows:

  • Lure Monster Operation: This battle requires players to defend a point, the Lure Beacon, from waves of monsters. There are a total of 10 waves of monsters, each wave increasing in difficulty, that spawn close to the beacon. Certain waves also have mini-bosses, and the final wave ends with “Malek the Shackled,” an enemy that moves slowly towards the lure as you try to stop him.
  • Skyscraper Arena: Similar to the above battle, the Skyscraper Arena also has you fight against 10 waves of enemies, however you are only required to protect yourself. The arena you’re in also is enclosed by an electric fence, damaging players as they touch it. The final wave ends with a boss named “Kalbach Tux.”
  • Andras Battle: This battle is like a puzzle. “Andras,” the main boss of this battle, appears in the middle and is invulnerable to all attacks. To make him vulnerable, you must go through a series of warps and defeat a boss at each corner of the area. Upon defeating these bosses, “Andras” loses his invincibility, and you can warp to defeat him.
  • Hall of Dragons (solo only): Similar to the Skyscraper Arena, the Hall of Dragons is a solo-only battle where the player must fight against waves of enemies.
  • However, the difference is each wave of enemies consists of very difficult bosses. The battle is finished once you’ve defeated the final boss “Astaroth.”
  • Dimensional Doppelganger (daily): This special sector is available every even hour of the day and lasts for 1 hour. Each day, this special sector changes. It’s similar to most stages in the game, however enemies are more dangerous--they are Doppelgangers, enemies that take on the form of mini-bosses for each area of the stage.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

Closers presents familiar ideas in interesting ways. While customization is available for character aesthetics, the choice to keep the unique character skills similar allows for players to understand PVP matchups quicker. This also allows an opportunity for the developers to create new characters to help fill in niches in gameplay to suit different player preferences. While I’m still unsure how I feel about the fatigue system (I don’t often play many games with them), I’m glad that En Masse Entertainment is listening to their players to find a middle ground. As an action game, Closers is easy to learn and deep enough for invested players to differentiate themselves. I’m hoping the online community enjoys this new addition to the online gaming market.

Honey's Pros:

  • Character fighting styles are unique and vary in strength for PVE/PVP
  • Character customization for outfits and skills is varied enough without being distracting or confusing
  • Background story videos are immersive
  • Combo system is easy to learn and deep enough to invest time into

Honey's Cons:

  • Story takes a while to get interesting
  • While background stories are immersive, they are not currently implemented in the game, so players will likely miss them despite their introspective value

Honey's Final Verdict:

I’m quite impressed with Closers, and from what I know about the Korean version of the game, I’m excited to see all the additional content they will bring over. If you enjoyed the article or are looking forward to the game, feel free to leave a comment below. Hopefully, in the future, we can play together!

Sean

Writer

Author: Sean "Coopa" Hoang

A motivated writer hoping to share his passion for video games, literature, and visual media. I'm the main streamer of FinestKO, a variety game stream with roots in the fighting game community. Whenever there's time, you can usually find me broadcasting or writing for the next article.

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