A Growing Adventure

Ludum Dare 39 finished up a while ago and is currently in the phase where people can play and rate the games. The jam’s theme was “Running Out of Power,” which has resulted in a bunch of games revolving around, well, power. I would like to look at some stuff from this jam soon, preferably the stuff I got real excited about.

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But I won’t be looking at a Ludum Dare 39 game today! Once again, we’re looking at an entry from the 38th jam. I’ve previously looked at Bureaucratic Deity Simulator 2018 and Little Lands, games that revolved around the theme of “A Small World.” Today, we look at a simple RPG that itch.io recommended to me called A Growing Adventure.

A Growing Adventure is by FrankieSmileShow, made in GameMaker. The game was rather open with its development, as you can download the game’s source files and check out the dev’s Twitch and see recordings of his streams working on this. Also hey, the guy’s working on Barkley Shut Up and Jam Gaiden 2 and regularly streams work on making the game’s art, so that’s also a neat thing you could check out.

In A Growing Adventure, you start out on a small patch of land in a starry abyss. You press yourself up against a piece of darkness and it begins to uncover itself. The seconds on the uncovering block counts down until a piece of land is unveiled – as well as anything that happens to exist on that tile. Squares with longer countdowns tend to yield monsters, though sometimes it’s beneficial.

Initially, I sort of thought that this game was a roguelike, just with a neat take on the fog of war mechanic. However, I noticed that the world was too designed to be a proper roguelike. I opened up spaces in the world and I found dirt paths that deliberately led toward other, more important encounters. I looked at the game’s source files and indeed, the game is actually a huge map with encounters planned out. It’s a designed world with a sort of roguelike-lens to exploring it.

Knowing that the world is designed instead of being procedurally generated made exploring feel more profound. It feels like I’m uncovering a world instead of stumbling around in the dark. There’s a sense of anticipation as a path starts to lead off toward somewhere specific and that’s a feeling that I think would be lost if A Growing Adventure was procedural.

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So, onto the subject of monsters. Fighting in the game is real simple, you just move against the enemy you want to fight. You and the enemy swing at each other, damage calculated by attack and defense stats. An important thing to mention however are the temporary power-ups scattered around. Among the things that you can uncover, you can find temporary stat boosts to your attack and defense that are taken away with every turn of combat; you can also find armor and weapon shops that you can buy into to get upgrades, with cost increasing every time you do so. So when there’s a stronger foe, you can opt to either fight some of the small fry until you’re strong enough to naturally defeat them, or just load up on these boosts to get rid of them as soon as possible. As somebody that got really into uncovering parts of the map, I often took the latter route so that I could get to more parts of the map quicker, as the stronger foes are often placed at choke points.

Also an important thing to mention is that you can just step away from most of the fights. Enemies just sort of stay in place and fights only initiate if you choose to do so – or break open a chest or a tree while standing next to one, which I’m guessing is more of a glitch than anything. Aside from the few ranged enemies that shoot at you when you’re close, you’re in no danger. You can hit an enemy and run away, maybe to heal so you can finish them off when you’re healthier. You can use this to your advantage to assess the strength of the boss-like enemies in the game so you’d know if you’re prepared to fight them or not. This sort of creates a relaxed pace where you can just tackle challenges whenever you feel like it, which is nice if you prefer exploration over combat.

My biggest problem with combat was that some enemies could poison you and you getting poisoned isn’t really telegraphed. I found my health dropping even when I wasn’t fighting enemies and I didn’t know what caused it until I paid closer attention. I wasn’t even sure if the condition was curable besides it going away naturally.

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If you’re down with this game and want to play it, I suggest that you should bring some music or something to watch, as the game doesn’t have any music. Besides, it’s one of those games that’s engaging but doesn’t really demand your full attention. In fact, considering that the game is solely controlled by arrow keys, it’s easy to multitask.

I watched some streams while playing this and a surprising amount of time can be sunk into the game. There is a goal of beating a wizard final boss, but you can ignore the castle beyond the knights on the bridge and go fight bosses in the side areas – besides, there isn’t a true end state for the game after beating him. A Growing Adventure‘s a nice time waster and is a good multi-tasking game. The game’s page claims that there’s going to be a final version with tweaks and more features and that’s something to look forward to. Until then, the jam version of A Growing Adventure is satisfying enough.

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