Beyond Flesh and Blood Hands-On Preview

For those who like their dystopias full of mechs and gore, you may find yourself interested in Beyond Flesh and Blood. Set in a ramshackle version of Manchester 200 years in the future, humanity has retreated to a colony on the outer reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere. Since then, the surface of the planet has been left largely unclaimed, and a war has broken out over control of this familiar frontier.

Beyond Flesh and Blood is a third-person shooter developed by a local, Manchester-based studio called Pixelbomb Games. This local flavour promises to inform the game’s layout and design, allowing players to blast their way through Deansgate and various iconic areas and local landmarks.

Although the game promises a decent-sized single player story experience, our hands-on preview at Manchester Play Expo consisted of a basic horde/tower defence mode where we had to defend our outpost against oncoming waves of rebel fighters. Starting off in a large mech suit equipped with a powerful machine gun, we certainly had the advantage over the enemy despite their numbers. In close combat, mechs have the ability to tear people in half, which is as appropriately gory as you would expect. The most interesting aspect of combat is the ability to pick up enemy weapons and environmental objects, and use these against your opponents. In our playthrough, we managed to rip a street sign out of the ground and used this to clobber our enemies into submission. The ability to throw the pole like a javelin was also a fun way to take out foes from afar.

Just a normal Saturday night in Manchester.

Between attack waves, the game offered an ample opportunity to set up our defences. The primary goal was to stop the enemy from destroying the defence towers. As the waves stacked up, more towers dropped from the sky, which opened up new fortifications such as barriers and turrets.

We also got the chance to sample a smaller mech that was basically a body suit with a machine gun mounted on the head. This was a much more mobile suit, allowing us to traverse the environment much faster, but also made us much more vulnerable to attack. While trying to deliver some punishing melee attacks, we quickly found that the enemies ganged up on us and were able to make short work of us in this suit, so caution is advised.

While we didn’t get the chance to see any of the main game, Beyond Flesh and Blood promises to have a fleshed out story campaign, tackling environmental and political themes, along with large scale battles and upgrades for your mech.

The version that we played was a very early, pre-alpha build, so there were some framerate issues and some placeholder animations. Despite this, the game is looking very polished for such an early build, and still has a lot of development time left to go. The game will be available on Steam early access soon, and a playable demo is available right now from Pixelbomb’s website. The game is due out on Steam and Xbox One in 2015.

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