July 23, 2011
Indie Games You Need To Buy: Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves The World
Those of you who are Steam users have probably seen a little indie two-pack for $3 on the front page, made up of two retro-styled RPGs from Zeboyd Games. I’m a huge fan of 8‑bit and 16-bit games, especially RPGs, but I will admit that they’ve become a dime a dozen in the indie community lately. However, these two caught my eye, so I forked over the cash to try them out. My mind was promptly blown so hard that my hair caught fire and my eyeballs exploded. These games have done nothing but truly amaze me almost every single second that I’ve played them. In an effort to keep some semblance of order to this massive praise-ball, I’ll take the games in order.
Breath of Death VII is an interesting twist on NES-era RPGs such as Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, and Earthbound. I’m not sure what’s with the VII in the title, as this appears to be the only game in the series, but it gives me room to demand that Zeboyd release I‑VI, because I want them. It follows a very simple and traditional formula, but fixes many of the problems that have plagued such games for years. The one minor fix that makes me weep with joy is the random encounter system. Almost all of us will agree that the classic RPGs would not have been the same without random encounters, but they definitely got annoying when you were trying to find your way around a large and complex dungeon. Zeboyd Games came up with a simple, yet truly ingenious solution: Limited encounters. Every dungeon and individual area has a set number (varying from around ten to fifty, depending on the size of the area) of random encounters that will occur, and even the overworld will eventually run out of random monsters. However, if you’re one of those people who enjoys grinding for a while, and then rushing through the story, you don’t have to worry about running out of enemies to fight; you can simply select “Fight” from the menu for an instant random encounter. No patrolling for wild Pokémon needed.
Combat is fast paced and perfectly challenging. Lots of variables go into fights, including a creative combo system in which you can rack up multipliers to do heavy damage with special moves. However, using a combo finisher or a (forgive me) C‑C-C-COMBO BREAKER will reset the multiplier, so a lot of trade-offs affect your decision making. At the end of combat, your HP is entirely replenished, ensuring that each dungeon doesn’t become a drawn-out endurance round. You only get a limited amount of MP back based on how quickly you finish the fight, so once again, it’s a trade-off. When your characters level up, you’re given a choice between two options, which can be stat and attribute boosts, different skills, or the same skill in two different forms. I really like this concept, because you can shape the characters into the exact role that you want them to play.
Now, the mechanics are all well and good, but the true core of the classic RPG was the story that was delivered to you via text boxes, music, and highly pixellated pictures, right? Well, this is where Breath of Death shines. The graphics are good even with the limitations of the medium and the music is some of the best I’ve heard in any recent release, big or small. The story follows a really creative take on the archetypical RPG “Save the world and uncover secrets of the past” plot in which the undead are the majority, the “good guys”, and the ones who need saving. Not only is the game fairly witty by itself, but there are countless quotes and throwbacks to classic games, especially RPGs, which really makes this game hit home. It’s a classic style RPG for people who love classic style RPGs. It’s a tough game to top.
Cthulhu Saves the World topped it.
If Breath of Death VII was comparable to Final Fantasy I, Cthulhu Saves The World is more along the lines of Final Fantasy IV or V. The mechanics are the same, but are somehow even better than Breath of Death VII. Combat features yet another modifier called Insanity (to fit with the whole Cthulhu mythos) that can actually make enemies stronger, but also provides you party with certain buffs based on the leveling selections you make. You obtain quite a few party members, so you have all sorts of party compositions to try out and combined “Unite” skills to use. No party composition is really “better” than any other, and everyone levels up whether or not they actively participate in combat. It’s a little easier in some cases to figure out where you need to go, and there are a number of minor improvements that really round out this game.
What really gives Cthulhu Saves The World the edge is presentation. The humor relies less on references to classic games, and more on outright wittiness. The graphics are really reminiscent of Final Fantasy IV-VI, and some of the dungeons actually make me think “Zelda.” The music is good enough that you will remember it. I’m humming the battle theme right now. It generally takes a nostalgic classic to do that. Really, that’s what this game is. If Cthulhu Saves The World had existed on the Super Nintendo, it would have been an instant classic that some other indie game would be making a throwback to. It’s really that good. I cannot point out a flaw with this game. It’s so witty that there’s even humor in the menu screens, it handles like a classic, and you won’t get bored with it. I could barely put it down long enough to write this article.
I’m not going to ask you to buy these games. I’m not going to get down on my knees and beg and implore you to buy them. I’m telling you. Yes, you reading this. I am demanding that you spend the diminutive price of $3 to purchase two extremely good games. Make a Steam account if you don’t already have one, use any method possible to make this transaction, and buy these games.
If you don’t, I will burn your house down.
With the lemons.
You can visit Zeboyd Games, the makers of these incredible RPGs here.
You can watch some trailers and meet my demand of purchasing these games here.
Questions? Comments? Absurd references? Drop me a comment below!