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The Red Solstice: Ironward's 'real-time XCOM'

Croatian indie studio Ironward recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for its multiplayer real-time strategy game inspired by titles like StarCraft, Dawn of War and XCOM, The Red Solstice.

Set in the distant future, players take the form of space marines who have been deployed to investigate what has happened to a Mars colony after a violent storm dubbed The Red Solstice. There are eight character classes from which to choose — assault, heavy support, recon, marksman, demolition, terminator, hellfire and medic — and up to eight players can join a squad.

When players arrive at the colony, they will play through each mission through three main phases: scouting for resources, fortifying those supplies and fending off enemies while evacuating. Enemies and resources will be randomly generated and, according to Ironward CEO Hrvoje Horvatek, players will have to be tactical every step of the way or risk being overwhelmed by monsters.

"The more you get to know the game, it becomes controlled chaos."

"Some players have compared [The Red Solstice] to a real-time XCOM," Horvatek told Polygon. "The idea is there is a huge amount of strategy players need to take into account and think in advance."

Each game lasts for about an hour, and Horvatek said the key to success is cooperation. With eight character classes and up to eight players working toward a common goal, players can choose to tackle the game map together, or they can assign leaders to guide half the squad to one part of the map and another leader to guide the other half of the squad to another area.

"You can play through those three phases in any way you want," Horvatek said. "Some teams will create a base in one spot and keep it from the beginning to the end of the game. Other teams will move their base around. Players can create their own gameplay."

Some strategies that Horvatek has seen players use is to divide the squad, explore different parts of the map, create various drop points to supplies can be gathered, and camp at the drop points while defending themselves against enemies. Players can also build turrets and create safety zones.

"It's definitely focused on fast-thinking and applying the right choices in a really, really short space of time," Horvatek said. "A lot of new players will depend 90 percent of the time on improvisation, while an experienced player will rely on thinking in advance, and they won't have to react so fast because they will be prepared for the incoming situation.

"It's like random chaos. The more you get to know the game, it becomes controlled chaos."

The Red Solstice is aiming to raise $50,000 on Kickstarter to complete the game. Its stretch goals include additional modes, a single-player storyline, Mac and Linux versions and a bigger game overall. The game is in development for Windows PC and aims to launch by August 2014.