So.... I've mentioned this in the Underrated Games thread, and I'm compelled to mention it again here because your original post describes this game almost word for word
. Seriously I cannot express how awesome this game is.... and nobody freaking knows about it
<- Trailer (with download link in description)https://www.dropbox.com/s/73bzevslrdq8c4d/Touhou%20-%20Wandering%20Souls.zip?dl=0
<- My dropbox download (if you don't trust the mediafire link in the trailer)
(Note: play on the highest difficulty -- and make sure you play with a controller with a good D-pad)Variety of moves to choose from
You switch between 3 characters, each with 3 different primary attack combos, plus ~8 special moves (unique for each character) which become un/available depending on the equipped weapon and are triggered by fighting-game style combos (up,left,attack -- etc). Plus 4 charged spells (again, unique to all characters) which get unlocked throughout the course of the game.
At the halfway point in the game you start unlocking even more characters which you can swap into your main crew of three. I haven't counted but it's at least a dozen, all with unique moves. I haven't even used them all.including melee
Check. Your primary attack combos are mostly melee (though some characters have ranged splashed in). Also some special moves are like chunky melee that do big damage but you have to catch the enemy just right for them to be effective.ranged
Check. Most special moves are ranged, plus at least one of each character's base move combos is [short] ranged.area of effect
Check. Special moves plus lots of charged magic spells -- Marisa (the witch) in particular has charge spells which occupy large portions of the screen. There's also AOE stuff that follows your character around like a shield to make melee more effective.an element of defense and/or counterattack
You have a "block" stance for emergencies but it's ineffective against the REALLY large attacks. You also can't rely on it because it operates like a gauge which drains when hit, and if it drains all the way it's completely disabled for a few seconds. The name of the game REALLY is stick and move -- find an opening, rush in and take it, then quick get out before you get clobbered.
No real counterattack mechanic, though.movement
Looooooooots of movement. The game is primarily movement. Most of the game is dodging, looking for a way to slip in your attacks.and perhaps some use of the environment.
You don't really USE the environment yourself, but the environment definitely acts as an obstacle in numerous stages.
- Fight enemies while dodging boulders falling from the sky!
- Oh no now those boulders are falling into lava and splashing lava droplets everywhere!
- Fight enemies while the wind is blowing you around in all sorts of directions!
- Fight in a swamp where you're constantly poisoned and your health is draining! Better grab those health drops!
And of course...the yin-yang guys who you can't kill but throw a constant stream of projectiles at you -- they might
qualify as environmental.Stuff you didn't mention: elemental/status effects
Use fire attacks on the little ice goblins! It's super effective! But don't use wind attacks on the fairies because they're resistant!
Reimu's orb attack also mutes enemies! Neato! Use it on those magic books to make them ineffective while you focus on the fairies! Deadly Kunais poisons guys! Use it on bosses to chip away at their health!Stuff you didn't mention: Relics
Each character gets 4 equipment slots with dozens of options for each slot. Maybe you want to beef up one person's physical attacks. Or maybe you want to make special moves cheaper. Or maybe you want some health regen. Or maybe you want your spells to charge quicker. Or maybe you want immunity from paralysis because those goddamn pixies keep stunning you. Tailoring your characters and their build can change a lot of how you play, and is pretty much essential late game.Stuff you didn't mention: Knockout mechanic
You have a crew of 3 that you can switch between in real time (though switching has a cooldown). The ones you're not using slowly recover extra life/stamina/magic. If someone actually dies, they're out for an extra length of time and you can't switch to them until they're ready -- but even then they come back at 50%, so you'll probably want to wait a bit longer to let them heal up a bit. True death happeMost importantly, a good engine allows you to enter a state of flow, improvising and adapting as the events unfold
"Man these foxes are throwing bullets everywhere, I can't get anything done with them around, better focus on them first. Oh wait, that frost dragon is charging his spell, better stun or mute him before he can pull it off. Shit, I didn't notice that pixie just did its paralyze move and I didn't get to block it, now I'm stunned for two seconds while my plans unravel and the pixie heals everyone!"
(this is pretty much the whole game -- note: always kill the pixies first)Button mashing, spamming a simple combo or "turtling" should be ineffective.
Check, check, and check.
Button mashing will get you through maybe the first 3 stages while the game introduces you to the mechanics. After that, it'll get you absolutely nowhere.
And even if you deck your character out with all the right relics to make your one special move SUPER effective, it still costs MP or stamina, which means you get one or two uses before you have a cool down. Spamming is almost never possible.
Your shield has bare minimum effectiveness -- just enough to be useful in tight situations, but not anywhere near enough to rely on. Turtling is completely impossible. You are always on in this game.
I seriously cannot sing this game's praises enough. It is extraordinarily well designed and surprisingly well balanced considering how much content is in the game. Outside of MAYBE Soulsborne games this is the best combat I've seen. And I say "maybe" because this might actually be better -- it's just a completely different style so it's hard to compare.
EDIT: Here's some REALLLY old gameplay footage of me playing one of the stages maybe ~30% of the way through the game https://youtu.be/WY5SqgHVb2M