Role-Playing Games have been around for a long time now. While not where the genre itself began, ask most gamers what their favorite RPG is, and chances are you will hear about adolescent memories of titles from the Final Fantasy, Pokémon, Dragon Quest, or Shin Megami Tensei franchises. Each, to a certain extent, mirror each other with common core traits for battle and narrative, including a set health bar for each character controlled, a turn-based system, and an adventure that ends with an end goal of defeating the “great evil” while taking out the many enemies the party comes across in order to gain the strength needed.
While each of these varied formulas still exist in the latest games in each franchise, there are now many titles that, despite looking similar at the surface level, have dramatically altered multiple aspects while maintaining the genre label. Both games discussed this week strive to build an interactive world for players to thrive for a time within, but when examined on a deeper level, destroy all expectations, much to the delight of the audiences that get to experience them.
The Rainsdowne Players
There is nothing harder than starting a business, but once the stage is set and the cast is found, it gets easier, right? The best person to ask that to might end up being yourself, as being part of “The Rainsdowne Players” is a constant full-time experience, and the audience is always expecting the right notes to be hit with each production! Playing simultaneously as your only two cast members, every day is about finding inspiration while paying the rent of the theater and the one gloomy cashier that keeps asking for their check.
The key to the game is what makes any theater production thrive; finding inspiration through the various lessons that only everyday life can give. “Rainsdowne Players” gives players that opportunity within its day-&-night cycle, from fishing at a nearby dock to viewing watching a kindergarten teacher get mobbed at recess. These people are what will comprise the audience and will come to the playhouse at different times, so talking to everyone is essential for new ideas to flow and the theater to grow. Each inspiration is logged in a book, carried by one of two pet cats, which will later be used to in turn inspire various people who will provide positive reviews, bringing more to visit later on.
Once players ready to return to the stage with their notes, the real game begins! From 5 ideas comes a custom play, in which the duo will have to act out, and meanwhile, in Paper Mario-fashion, will also have to constantly dodge bottles, tomatoes, and even paper planes “contributed” by onlookers. It was a fun, yet incredibly unexpected way to put the heat on as the characters try to act out the story given, and with no health bar to look at, learning timing and the different items becomes the dire lifeline if stories are going to be told.
With no specific timeline, the experience is easy-going, and with the multiple mini-games to check out that help the main goal of the story, no effort is wasted in connecting to the colorful citizens of the town. Holding onto the dream of building something of grandeur is never easy, nor is executing through the effort, but “Rainsdowne Players” shows that there are bright sides in working towards a hard-fought common goal, even for a couple scrappy underdogs.
When Music and Gaming collide, so much is possible, especially in the modern era we live in now. However, consistently across the board, through any decade of mash-ups, one thing is always certain with this combo; difficulty will ensue. Parappa the Rapper, Guitaroo Man, and DDR are a few examples where beats had to be beat into players in order to learn timing and rhythm, but that was always the finer point of each; players felt great after clearing those challenges. It is in this thought process that, while that concept isn’t lost on any game, Everhood presents itself that way from the start, beckoning challengers to get in the groove for this music-adventure-RPG combo.
Each battle feels like an endurance contest as players don the role of a puppet, having just lost his arm to a forest gnome. Even the tutorial fight felt like a legitimate boss fight as no punch was pulled by the laid-back Frog mentor, not allowing anyone that hasn’t been tested by him to pass through. The stage players will dodge and later be able to battle back on comes straight from the golden era of music games, each attack coming down beat by beat. Between the first fight encounters, including a possessed ATM and a disco ghoul, no style is alike, and death will come multiple times before players finally out-endure their enemies. This is by design, as the difficulty selection screen straight up tells players that “Hard” is how the game is meant to be played. 3 hits is all it takes to be destroyed, and while help comes back after 3 or so track beats, those can go fast if eyes are there rather than on the playing field.
While dance battles are a main component of the game, the initial question asked to players revolves around what is more important; Humanity, or having Immortality. Much like Undertale, the actions the puppet will eventually be able to take against opponents directly affects how the story goes and the game proceeds, giving into different endings depending on those choices. Can players accept their fate in this world, or is it easier to fight for a more elusive way to exist, even if it means slaughtering those that don’t always mean harm?
Though absolutely difficult at first to find a footing in, “Everhood” is a story worthy of a dive, if nothing else but for the synth-filled EDM soundtrack. Colorful, crazy, and creative in its execution, it reflects how amazing music games were and still are, keeping with it a long tradition of earning a good OST with each progression. If you’re not afraid of a little grind and a constant challenge in every dance-off, walk through the door, get on the floor, and show the ‘Hood what you’re fighting for.
That’s all for this edition of the Indie Buzz! Seeya in 2 weeks for another round of themed games, all by independent teams & developers. Remember, always support your local game communities & Indie creators!
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