Another game I checked out at E3 2019 was a very unusual isometric RPG called Iron Danger that is being developed by Action Squad Studios. Like in other games of its type, you go on grand adventures, controlling a small party, using weapons, consumables, spells and more. In this game however, there’s a pretty unique twist – you can rewind and fast-forward time, with every action you take measured in heartbeats.

E3 2019 Iron Danger Preview

In Iron Danger, you play as Kipuna, a young woman who is introduced escaping the destruction of her home town. The cause of said destruction is the army of the Northlanders, who are invading, enslaving and destroying all in their path. In the midst of the chaos she trips and falls down an old ruin, becoming impaled on a mysterious crystal.

This crystal grants her a mysterious power: the ability to rewind and fast-forward time. All of a sudden, combat as a simple villager against invaders or monsters becomes possible. If you fail and die? That’s okay! Just experiment and keep on trying different things until they work. Every single action has its own “heartbeat cost” that shows how long it’ll take to accomplish, so mix and match or cancel and re-try as needed. The developers joked that everyone you encounter has no idea about the power you possess, they just think Kipuna is ridiculously lucky.

When I went hands-on, I played through the beginning of the game, which teaches basic combat, movement and the story setup. While this unusual time loop/reset mechanic definitely takes some getting used to, I found it refreshingly innovative.

It’s a fantasy-steampunk world, with a clear amount of care and attention put into the detail and lore. In traditional Nordic fashion, there are even saunas, which you can relax in for a moment to recover your health.

E3 2019 Iron Danger Preview

You’re usually accompanied by one other character, whose actions you can also control, letting you set up complex situations and tactical plans by measuring out the actions (and heartbeats) of each character. When I asked about the possibility of more in a party, the developers explained that keeping track of more than two gets extremely messy. You will however have a variety of party members to choose from for your companion.

In addition to letting me play the introductory section, the developers showed a quest later in the game. They crawled through dungeons, fought monsters and repeatedly blew themselves up, to the amusement of everyone present.

Towards the end of their gameplay, the devs fought a giant dinosaur/bird monster called the Tyrannogrouse. This creature, despite its hilarious appearance and name, was extremely dangerous and it took quite a bit of careful positioning, planning and re-winding to bring it down. This was where the gameplay really shone bright for me: figuring out the exact number of heartbeats it might take to dodge or drop a trap may not sound exciting, but I legitimately believe this is the kind of shake-up tactical RPGs could need.

This isn’t a very large development team, as there’s ten people at the studio in total, so it’s a very tight-knit group. Even with a small team however, what they are doing seems very ambitious and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of Iron Danger in the future.

If you’d like to read my other E3 2019 coverage, you can check out the links below: