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Coridden Hands-On Preview: PAX East 2024

Coridden art of three characters, with two shifting into beastly forms

This year at PAX East, I got to play Coridden, an upcoming action RPG from Swedish developer Aftnareld. The game focuses on co-op gameplay and a fun monster-shifting mechanic that lets you ride your friends (er, more on that later). Coridden recently wrapped its Kickstarter campaign, which raised 150% of its initial funding goal, and I can see why it caught the interest of hundreds of backers. Though if I kept that knowledge to myself, this would be a very short preview, wouldn’t it? Right then, let’s get into it.

Coridden‘s world of Heera is a post-apocalyptic one, but think less Fallout and more Horizon Zero Dawn: you see remnants of old civilizations and technology years later when nature has reclaimed much of the land. Your characters’ home is a city named Quilon, considered a final sanctuary for humankind. This also means that from a gameplay perspective, Quilon is the central hub for rest, picking up quests, shopping, and more. At this stage of the game, the aesthetics are much more aligned with medieval than anything else. The city looks primarily “fantasy” with wood and stone structures, though with the occasional LED sign board. Looking at Coridden‘s concept art, I imagine other areas will showcase the two opposing aesthetics of nature and technology more prominently.

Yes, I know. “What do you mean ‘ride your friends’?” — we’re getting there!

One of the core gameplay components in Coridden is that your characters are Shifters, able to take on — or rather, shift into — the form of defeated monsters. In the demo I played, I was able to shift to a quadrupedal beast named a Panteliz, which (as you can imagine) is essentially a cross between a panther and a lizard. This allowed me to run faster, jump farther, and also let my co-op human character hop on my back for a ride. One thing I immediately appreciated about this system is that being a passenger is not a passive experience. You can still attack nearby enemies, and it’s especially effective to let your rider snipe enemies from afar with their bow. No doubt this can allow even more possibilities with as many as four players, which can be either local or online.

There are meant to be around ten monster forms in Coridden, which may not sound like a lot until you consider that every form — plus your human self — has its own skill tree, attributes, and active and passive skills to learn. Leveling up earns you points to distribute across stats and skills for each form, and while I liked the “row one” abilities I got to try, there should be plenty of exciting abilities down the line to keep combat fresh. And since some environmental puzzles and obstacles require breaking walls or a form that can long jump, investing in each form will no doubt prove essential.

Another aspect of shifting I liked is that Coridden expects you to play in human and monster form. My beast form was fast and stronger in some ways, but you can’t just find a powerful form and stay in it; each form has a separate stamina bar that decreases as you perform actions. In tougher encounters or those with swarms of enemies, it became important to watch that meter and switch forms when it got low. But since your human form has a host of gear slots, including the innate ability to dual-wield AND have a ranged weapon equipped, you’re hardly at a disadvantage. I especially had fun with the hard-hitting leap attack I unlocked, which caused my character to slam their weapon into the ground and send all nearby foes flying. Coridden controls well, and even though I sometimes prefer keyboard controls on PC games, for me the game feels better when played with a controller. It feels like a game meant to be played on a couch with friends, controllers in hand.

Most of my time with Coridden was venturing through the introductory tutorial section and tackling one of the optional missions from the city’s notice board, providing a good opportunity to practice new skills and earn some experience. I did not get to see much of the city itself, but it was a good showcase for the excellent map screen — as you can see below, it’s a 3D, rotatable map that shows topography and elevation. The “raised pin” design is detailed enough to portray the environment but shaded so that icons and character markers are very easy to see. I appreciate that the character markers even update in real-time as your co-op pals move around so you can always find each other. I also like the cool sparkly trail that appears in the game world when you set a marker on the map, making it easy for the party to reach their destination.

Speaking of the map and UI design, I tend to look for nice quality-of-life touches in games. Even early on, some things stood out to me. In addition to the easy-to-use map, I appreciated the subtle color-coded glows on each player for easier identification. Especially notable is Coridden‘s well-designed character menu that intentionally uses 1/4 of the screen so that four local players can all hop into their menus to manage skills and equipment at once. I suppose in a game that allows four-player local co-op, these may all be expected, but good UI is hard, so I respect any developer who can make a clear, usable menu UI while also restricting it to a quarter of a player’s screen.

Overall, I was impressed with Coridden. While I only saw the very early portions of the game and low-level encounters and skills, it shows promise. The abundance of monster types with their own skill trees and progression sounds flexible enough to keep a single-player game interesting, but add in 1–3 additional players with their own builds, and I can see things getting really interesting. It’s one to watch as it nears its planned Q3 2024 release on Steam.

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Mike Salbato

Mike Salbato

Mike has been with RPGFan nearly since its inception, and in that time has worn a surprising number of hats for someone who doesn't own a hatstand. Today he attempts to balance his Creative Director role with his Editor-in-Chief status. Despite the amount of coffee in his veins, he bleeds emerald green.

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