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Video Game / Hammerfight

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From the earliest times, people had been finding broken machines beneath the vaults of the Abyss.

Machines that, with skillful hands, could be made to fly.

And they discovered that there was no task under the sky in which these machines could not be useful.

So, whether in times of war or of peace, those who could control the machines received the most honor.

A 2009 physics-based action game (previously known as Hammerfall) made by Konstantin Koshutin, Hammerfight is set in the world of Helaat. A young member of the House of Gaiar as he begins his training as a Rider—those who can pilot flying machines, particularly for war. The young Gaiar has many life-changing ordeals ahead of him—starting with The Empire declaring a war of extermination on the his people in order to fulfill an ancient oath by Cyrus Arguseed ...

Just what will this rookie Rider take into battle? A giant rock on a chain—and that's just the starter weapon.

Not related to Hammertime, although it could hurt you just as bad.

In 2015, Konstantin announced a (confirmed) prequel to HammerfightHighFleet, updates to which are available on his YouTube channel and Twitter account. Konstantin later expressed interest in making a direct sequel to Hammerfight in the game's Steam discussion forums.

Provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: Some enemies will explode when destroyed—
    • You first encounter these in the form of giant explosive hornets during an Escort Mission. You've to keep them away from your escort and take them out with a precise blow to the head, lest they blow up.
    • Later, especially in Arena matches, you'll come across enemy Riders who will taunt you into killing them if they have a sliver of health left. Other Riders will usually beg you to spare them in this state—if you oblige *these* Riders and kill them, they'll explode and do considerable damage to you.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Seraph, potential end-boss of the game. He did his job, and he did it well, splitting a chunk of the Family off from itself as ordered. He simply didn't care he had to send an entire tribe of innocent humans into the abyss, locking them away along with the beasts, just because they were in the way.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Justified by an explanation by Seraph. Let's just say that the Giant Flyers and Floating Continents should be your first clue that Helaat, the world of Hammerfight, isn't reality as you know it, rather than complaining how unrealistic it all is.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Your many-titled enemies are suggested to have fought and won many battles to get where they are. You get all sorts of fancy titles too, for various feats, achievements and suchlike.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Verses from The Bible are used as some of the Epigraphs in-game, usually without the verse number. Of particular note, one splash screen has a quote from Ephesians 4:26—"In your anger do not sin; do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." This appears to lean on the fourth wall given it works as an admonishment of several vengeance-driven characters throughout the story, as well as the player, given the game's reputation for being Nintendo Hard.
  • Audible Sharpness: Heard whenever a hit is scored with a slashing weapon.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Many of the weapons, especially the guns, though with practice they can become Difficult, but Awesome instead.
    • Whisper, a sort of rocket/grenade launcher. It can fire three slow-moving, explosive rockets between reloading. They have exceptionally fickle fuses, sometimes detonating at the lightest touch, and other times letting you catch them on your weapon and sling them back at the enemy who fired them.
    • Mortar, the... uh... Mortar. Sometimes it misfires, and it can have some undesirable recoil (particularly if you're next to a wall, the bounce can stun you for a bit), but other times you can disarm an enemy with the force of the shot, inflict an Armor-Piercing Attack, or simply send them hurtling offscreen into the nearest solid object.
    • The Iblis' Claw. The heaviest weapon in the game, capable of destroying an armoured machine in two or three normal hits. However, due to its weight, once you've swung it, you have very little control over where it goes. And it's on a long chain, so you can't defend with it and a slight miss will leave your intended target unharmed while throwing you forcefully against their weapon.
  • Badass Boast: As you defeat enemies in the arenas and perform various feats (smashing many pieces of armour, etc.) you gain some fairly impressive titles. The main titles are read out prior to each Arena fight.
  • BFS: Flying machines are slightly taller than humans in the background. Said machines swing weapons as large as they are, so pretty much every weapon qualifies.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Many of the ranks and titles found in the setting are Turkic or Mongolian (sometimes Arabian) in origin. For example, Batyr is Turkic for "hero" or "brave man" while Tarkhan was a common title among Central Asian peoples that often implied a commander of a regiment-sized unit. Similarly, Noyan comes from feudal Mongolia and, in a military context, meant a commander of anywhere between a thousand and ten thousand soldiers.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: It's very possible to whack or shoot an enemy rider's weapon so hard that it falls right off their machine. It's also possible to loot these weapons; if there is no available weapon for the rider to use, he automatically surrenders, meaning this can be a round-ender in duels.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The guns automatically reload after about five seconds. Where does the ammo come from? Nobody knows.
  • Breakable Weapons: Weapons can break, if abused. If struck repeatedly with an ice-enchanted weapon, they also become more brittle and easier to break. Armour can also be smashed through; the better stuff is heavier and more expensive, but tends to be very resilient and will only shatter if it takes a seriously solid hit from a heavy weapon like the Colossus or Iblis' Claw... or your own machine, if you're suicidal like that.
  • Bullet Time: Land a particularly good strike, and you get a few seconds of slow-motion, during which you can move a whole lot faster than anyone else. It does, however, turn into a bit of a Death or Glory Attack, depending on the situation. The bullet-time physics get even wonkier than usual, so flying into something will wreck you, but you can also get some absolutely devastating momentum on your weapon, which can then be given to the nearest enemy to make him fly through the wall, if he doesn't just explode outright from sheer damage. note 
  • Bullfight Boss: Sophits (and some other enemies) will charge at you. The best strategy is to sidestep, swing your weapon around, and let them slam into it at top speed, dealing massive damage, though with the longer weapons, you can just stand there and point your weapon at them, too.
  • Catch and Return: Throwing weapons like the throwing stars or darts can be caught mid flight and thrown back at their previous owner by a skilled pilot. Very rarely, Whisper rockets can sometimes be caught and then thrown back at your opponent with certain flails.
  • Combat Commentator: In certain missions, as well as the Arena mode, a commentator will compare your performance to the warriors of legend ... or jeer at you if you take too many hits.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted. As your HP nears 0, your machine starts emitting smoke, and you become easier to stun and disarm.
  • Determinator: The young Gaiar has been through a lot—to what some might legitimately call Hell, even. He never gives up, though. Even in the Downer Endings, he continues trying to find a way out until his last breath.
  • Downer Ending: If you accept the Emperor's offer to destroy Seraph, or fight it of your own free will after rejecting the Emperor's offer, there is no escape from the Abyss.
  • Escort Mission: In the first chapter, you have to escort your chief and keep swarms of hornets away from his worm-driven airship. The second wave starts sending explosive hornets.
  • Epic Flail: The basic flails are giant balls of rock or iron on chains ... and then you've got monsters like Iblis' Claw and Colossus, which can completely wreck an entire screen's worth of enemies with a few well-placed blows or skilled Bullet Time abuse.
  • Epigraph: A few of the missions and chapters open with quotations from famous works, both in our universe and theirs.
    • Chapter Four, Kelete, opens with a quotation by Ghanesh Khavaat from the Scripts of Sayadi.
    • Several of the epigraphs detailing the history of the Helaat are said to be from the Annals of House Kelete. Particularly those found on the game's website.
  • Escort Mission: Helping a giant worm-based zeppelin across the sky, and protecting it from hornet—especially the glowing, EXPLODING hornet—is an exemplary case.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The name for your character's profile is used as his first name—particularly in the Arena—but he'll most often be called "Gaiar" in the story.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Seraph and the civilization that created him hold views like this.
    Gaiar: Three hundred years ago the Abyss collapsed, devouring my people!
    Seraph: The creators presumed the existence of many separate tribes in the chain. But that was the price of salvation—their fate was not a consideration.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The world of Hammerfight is very Central Asian in its makeup, with influences primarily from Turkic and Mongolic peoples, and some Arabic influences for good measure.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Aside from the one or two times his tiny sprite is seen outside of a machine, we're never shown what the young Gaiar looks like. This is actually played to its logical conclusion in one ending: if the Gaiar allies with Seraph, the narrator will tell you that although he's restored the House of Gaiar, "his name will not be preserved in history."
  • Fog of Doom / Ominous Fog: Toward the end of the game, you will learn that there is a massive wall of fog advancing over the Helaat. The emperor Bharat-al-Maravi says that every town and village enveloped by the fog soon becomes overwhelmed by the beasts of firmament. Although he tells you he wants to use the three Singing Stones held by each of the houses to fight against this fog, Seraph claims the Emperor is instead looking to use them as a means of escaping this world before the fog claims everything.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The young Gaiar is awarded most ranks based on how much Glory he earns. These ranks are intended to be awarded naturally at certain points of the story, but once you unlock alternate game modes it's possible to get reach even the top rank much earlier than intended. That can lead to a chieftain questioning how you can fight like a Seneschal ... when you are a Seneschal, or even an Immortal.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Sophits. They're more like flying lobsters, but they can grow to be bigger than all of the flying machines of man. They are only beaten in terms of size by Seraph and his mechanical minions, as well as slightly by the giant boss worm at the end of Grimm missions.
  • Giant Flyer: All of the "beasts of firmament" encountered—giant bees, giant airborne worms, the Sophits themselves. Even the smallest ones are larger than a man. The worms are often used as organic airships.
  • Green Rocks + Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: There are "Singing Stones" that are retrieved from slain monsters; these stones come in three elemental flavours (fire, ice and electricity) plus two more unusual types.
    • Red - Bloody Ruby: AKA "Fury's Wrath" or "Rage of Furies." When charged up and used to strike an enemy with great force, a Bloody Ruby will restore some of your flying machine's health. One of the most common—and by far the most usefulnote —singing stones at your disposal.
    • Orange - Fiery Topaz: AKA "Fire Conjurer" or "Fire-summoner." When fully charged, they burst into flame for a few seconds. Wooden and cloth objects as well as enemies will be set on fire if struck, dealing damage over time. Also quite useful in the dark, since they make a lot of light.
    • Green - Ghostly Emerald: AKA "Ghost Warrior." The other non-elemental singing stone, Ghostly Emeralds let the wielder temporarily phase through attacks. Movement is slower, and your weapon is phased as well, making attacking impossible. The page image shows an enemy phasing to avoid the player's attack. Dephasing inside a weapon will reduce your health, and de-phasing with your weapon inside someone else will do pretty much the exact same to them.
    • Blue - Icy Sapphire: AKA "Breath of the Abyss" or "Storm Master." The rarest of the lot (on par with Emeralds) but quite effective. If they strike an enemy weapon when charged, they'll coat it in ice crystals, freezing it. Frozen weapons and armour are made more brittle, and therefore, are much easier to break.
    • Purple - Luminous Amethyst: AKA "Glow." Terrifyingly effective against metallic enemies, these unleash vicious electrical shocks. If fully charged, any enemies that get too close to the gem will be shocked without releasing the main charge. Additionally, striking an enemy with a fully charged Amethyst will unleash an additional shock that amplifies the force of an attack, making it easier to smash through armour and send your foe flying.
  • Guide Dang It!: Some missions, but the storyline branches in particular can be confusing. One particular path ends up presenting two choices at a certain point, one whose dialogue beforehand would make some players go, "Oh, I definitely want THIS choice." However, the description of neither choice clearly talks about why you're going there—just some background on the places. While weapons are sometimes awarded after certain levels, apart from buying common varieties from the randomly-stocked store, it's never clearly stated that disarming foes is the only way to get certain weapons. (Good luck getting that badass hammer!)
  • Improbable Weapon User: You and just about everyone else. First there's the swords, axes and hammers—fairly normal, one would think, until you remember these are being mounted on flying machines. Then you get into the steampunk guns, repurposed pickaxes, a rock on a chain, a crude ball of iron on a chain, pickaxe heads on a chain, circular sawblades on a chain ... and more.
  • Interface Screw: Bombs will give you a loud ringing in your ears, make everything go blurry, and slightly slow down time.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: Subverted—the machines are controlled in-universe with a mouse, thus the tutorial instructions are justified.
  • Infinity Plus One Epic Flail: The Colossus, which once served as that trope's example image. Imagine if you were to affix a circular saw blade to the end of a long chain, which also has several spikes on it. Allow said saw blade to rotate freely upon the end of that chain, with razor-edged, razor-tipped blades that can slice through beast-flesh and enough weight to smash armour like tinfoil. According to the weapon's backstory, just a single rider with one of these mighty weapons could cause an entire army to turn and run, and it's not hard to see why.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Shaking the mouse back and forth makes your character swing jauntily back and forth, laughing. This ''will'' enrage human foes without fail. You had better be ready for the sheer onslaught of sharp objects (and siege bombs!) flung your way.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: You will never really get to see the big picture without playing through the game's various endings. It also becomes easier to understand the plot when the chapter prologues are read as pieces of the game's prologue.
  • Justified Title: When you first look at the name "Hammerfight," it's easy to assume the name just refers to the physics-based bludgeoning of opponents you can do with hammers and other blunt weapons. It goes further than that— Seraph and the other "assault complexes" like him were part of a project known as "Hammer."
  • Karma Meter: Glory, though it's only really a one-way meter, since you get so much positive Glory for performing feats such as disarming an enemy, landing an exceptionally powerful or skillful blow, or making a very accurate shot. Striking a disarmed foe loses you glory, as does using poison/acid on your weapon.
  • Kill It with Fire: Weapons with a Topaz singing stone slotted into them, when used against beasts, will make for instant barbecue.
  • Last of His Kind: After the attack on the House of Gaiar's realm, the player is taken prisoner and is essentially the last of the Gaiar left alive. Depending on choices made, however, you'll find out otherwise.
  • Lost Technology: Multiple cases—
    • Weapons like the Colossus are described as rare specimens that were once the standard armament of Emperor Ishtar's seneschals. It's been centuries since then, and the ability to create these weapons have been lost to time. The remaining examples are revered by the Jaghannat.
    • Highfleet's role as a distant prequel to Hammerfight also reveals just how all these ruined machines everyone's scavenging wound up in Helaat anyway.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Any level with a lot of beasts will quickly see little bits and pieces of giant floating bug splattered everywhere. Certain weapons can end up liquefying worms into a green slush with a couple chunks in it with a well-aimed swing, and pretty much anything will make a spatter out of a bee or a small sophit.
  • MacGuffin: The Emperor wants the Singing Stones that each Great House holds, but this fact is not revealed until very late in the story, and what they do is not clearly explained. It is vaguely implied that they grant some sort of Reality Warper power to the wielder.
  • More Dakka: The Tribune, a massive rapid-fire gun that holds forty rounds at a time, expelling them rapidly. The second highest, the Assault Arquebus, holds 20. Tied for third highest are the Arquebus Shotcannon and Whisper Grenade Launcher with three each.
  • Multiple Endings: Three or four, basically;
    • 1: Accept the Emperor's offer, fight your way through the Abyss, and destroy Seraph. The Gaiar is lost in the Abyss. Downer Ending!
    • 2: Reject the Emperor's offer. Get thrown into the Abyss with no weapons, armour or anything. Battle your way to Seraph despite everything in your way.
      • 2a: Accept Seraph's offer and return to the sky leading an army of the machines against the beasts, having seemingly replaced the Emperor.
      • 2b: Reject Seraph's offer, destroy it, and get stuck in the Abyss. Again. Downer Ending!
    • No matter what you do, though, you get a Cliffhanger that's part Sequel Hook.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Enemy riders don't have the same challenges in combat that players do. Some examples:
    • In order to use guns, the player must link them to another weapon. Aiming is a matter of swinging the other weapon until the gun is pointed in the right direction, and firing the gun requires "using" it while it's selected in the cargo hold. In short, using guns becomes a game of roulette. Enemy riders, however, do not need to link their guns to another weapon and can manually aim their guns however they like. Thankfully, their guns are also somewhat fragile and can be smashed to pieces with a little effort (and enough luck to avoid getting shot in the face for your trouble).
    • If the player manages to knock an enemy rider's melee weapon off of their machine, the rider can still attack the player if they have a gun as their other weapon. Some riders will opt to sit and shoot at the player without attempting to pick up their melee weapon first. Even though this logically means they're still armed and dangerous, the player will be penalized for fighting back, as it's still considered dishonorably attacking an unarmed foe.
    • To damage enemies, the player must build up momentum in his weapons before striking. However, the player can take a lot of damage just by bumping into an enemy's weapon (or most parts of a monster). Even if the enemy is stunned and idle on the ground, grazing their weapon will cause considerable damage. In comparison, enemy riders can instantly spin their weapons to attack.
  • Nintendo Hard: Owing to the fact that the enemy isn't playing by the same rules, death comes very easily, especially against bosses or crowded fights. The game offers you a level skip token if you lose the same level a certain number of times, at the cost of all your money.
  • Older Is Better: The Colossus weapon's backstory mentions that none have been forged for centuries, but it is by far the best flail in the game, and comes with an appropriately ludicrous challenge to unlock it, specifically, beating all 20 standard Arena levels.
  • Power Glows: The Singing Stones. Also, the sharper your weapon is, the more light it reflects, giving it the effect of glowing.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The House of Gaiar has a reputation for being the most skilled Riders in all of Helaat. While this would make their services highly desirable, the history of the House means that few, if any, Gaiar would ever sell their services to outsiders.
  • Recoil Boost: The earlier-mentioned Awesome, but Impractical Mortar weapon can become surprisingly practical when its recoil is actually desirable. Among other things, it remains usable when you are stunned, and can give you a last-second push out of the way of an incoming attack... or it can be used to stab the business end of your linked weapon into immobile enemies, resulting in a subverted inversion of Weaponized Exhaust.
  • Red Baron: As you progress through the game, you'll earn an achievement-based title determined by your play style. Some examples—
  • Regenerating Health: Used only during the Hammerball league, but in this case you get this, while your opponents are invulnerable, with your objective being to knock the ball into the goal. Taking damage means you're simply easier to stun rather then dying... at least, so it seems, right up until you get tackled by one of them and explode mid-match.
  • Rush Boss: Seraph. Either you get snipped and zapped into oblivion by the thing's electrotentacles, or you smash its head off in three well-aimed swings or so, but the battle won't go past a minute unless you deliberately take longer. The same goes for a lot of the boss monsters, if only because most of them are capable of smashing you to pieces from a distance.
  • Scavenger World: As mentioned in the Opening Narration, the flying machines are repaired or modified from broken machines found in the Abyss. It's unclear if anyone outside of Seraph's minions has the capability to build them from scratch, but there seems to be quite a lot of them, anyway.
  • Shock and Awe: Weapons with lightning gems slotted are almost as useful against machines, especially after you charge them up through a bit of spinning, which will turn your next strike into just about the biggest stun you can achieve.
  • Shout-Out: What Seraph has to say concerning his origins is a big reference to the backstory and setting of Vangers. That's a Russian video game from 1997, and Konstantin Koshutin was one of the developers.
  • Skippable Boss: You are given the option to fight a boss just after someone tries buying you. If you decide to do so, you're committed to defeating the sophit as you can't revert prior to the current mission. You do, however, get rewarded for your trouble, and the sophit isn't ludicrously difficult (and you're forced to fight it regardless of what happens beforehand, possibly with the exact same weapon).
  • Socketed Equipment: There are three sizes; small, medium, and large. Most weapons (bar the guns) have at least one small slot, whilst the higher-tier swords tend to have several small ones or one larger slot, or a combination thereof. The gems cannot be removed once inserted into a socket and may only be recovered by destroying the weapon, which is only really possible if a weapon with an Icy Sapphire is used to make them brittle enough to smash easily.
  • Sword Sparks: Bright bursts of light that accompany each clash of the blade/hammer/whatever. During night they light up hills for miles around and provide glimpses of enemies in the darkness.
  • The Virus: The Family, mentioned by Seraph in the endgame—a "heterogeneous polymorphous race" that can assimilate other species. They had all but beaten the civilization that created Seraph and other "assault complexes" like it, whose purpose is to break apart the Family by banishing pieces of it to other realities. The "beasts of firmament" are one of those pieces. Disturbingly, the Family had been in the process of assimilating the people of Helaat. Seraph tells the young Gaiar he can see traces of that process in the Gaiar's body.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Weapons can be thrown with considerable force by skilled 'riders', and the AI will pull this against you. Nothing says "ouch" quite like catching a giant morning-star or a hammer with your face.
    • There's also one minigame-like level in the story mode where the Gaiar has to do this to knock down as many targets as he can.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Siege Bombs are fairly expensive, but are utterly devastating. The AI tosses them around like candy sometimes, particularly after being taunted. You'll probably want to hang on to yours if you bother with them at all.
  • Unusual User Interface: According to Seraph, the three unique Singing Stones held as treasures by the Great Houses—which he claims were stolen from him—are part of a control system. Seraph implies these three Stones can be used to travel to other worlds via folding space. In the epilogue of one of the endings, in which the stones are referred to as "the stones which seal the heavens."
  • Videogame Caring Potential: You can try your damnedest not to kill a single human foe in the entire game. You might even succeed. The monsters will not surrender or withdraw, though.
    • Certain enemies, when incapacitated, will beg for their lives. You can opt to spare them ... or strike them down for their cowardice.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: On the other hand, you can carve a bloody swathe through all who would dare oppose you, and kill as many of your foes as possible, even if they are incapacitated and helpless.
    • You even get a title for it! You lose Glory for striking an unarmed or incapacitated foe, however.
  • Who Forgot The Lights?: Night sequences, despite a full moon.
  • Wreaking Havok: Physics-based gameplay, 'nuff said. Smashing pieces of scenery and batting them at your foes is one particularly entertaining application.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Emperor Bharat-al-Maravi kicked off the entirety of the game's plot. He purposely invoked the oath of Cyrus Arguseed to exterminate the House of Gaiar, but not because he wanted to fulfill the oath. Rather, he hoped the resulting war would turn up a vengeance-driven warrior who could be manipulated into taking out his political rivals and thus allow him to collect the Singing Stones held by all three houses. He also needed someone skilled enough to destroy Seraph. And if he didn't accept the offer to destroy Serapth, he could simply throw him into the Abyss with someone who knew the way to its abode, but not the way out; if the Gaiar dies, he dies, and if he lives, chances are the Gaiar despises Seraph more than he hates him and will still destroy it. However, he gets Out-Gambitted by both Seraph (who makes a good case for not destroying it) and the Gaiar if they join forces and come back with a vengeance, so it's not entirely perfect.