itch.io is currently running the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality, a massive bundle that gives hundreds of games for donations to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund. At the time of writing, it’s raised almost $5 million in a move that feels more meaningful than whatever the hell Democrats are doing about police brutality. To promote the bundle and to fit in line with my mission of covering games by queer devs for this month, I decided to look at MidBoss.
MidBoss is a traditional roguelike by Kitsune Games. In MidBoss, you are a lowly imp that’s getting bullied by your fellow dungeon minions, with your talking exposition fairy Mid as your only friend. In response, you decide to do the sensible thing: possess your coworkers to gain their abilities and cut a swathe through the dungeon to become the “end boss” of the dungeon.
When it comes to difficulty, MidBoss has a bunch of options. There’s the standard “die once and it’s all over” mode and there’s a mode that gives you unlimited lives. There is also a middle of the road option that gives limited lives and it’s the mode I prefer. The thing is, I want there to be a safety net so that I can test the waters without threat of permanent death, but I want the risk to still be there, if that makes sense.
Of course, if you want to be more specific about your play experience, there’s a custom game mode that lets you change around a bunch of difficulty modifiers. Like, maybe you’re playing modes on the “quick” option but prefer it to be quicker by giving yourself more experience and making maps smaller. Don’t like unidentified potions or aspects to equipment? You can just throw that out and save your money instead of taking the extra step to identify things.
MidBoss‘ base gameplay follows the traditional roguelike mold. You wander around a dungeon with staircases leading farther down, and while you can make a beeline for the stairs, you’re heavily encouraged to explore the entirety of floors for the sake of netting lots of experience and items. There’s lots of different monsters, lots of potions to accidentally poison yourself with, and lots of equipment.
And there’s a whole lot of stats to keep track of with regards to equipment. You can be like me, believing in raw physical damage over all else – can’t kill me if you’re already dead, you know. Or, maybe, you want to prioritize increasing your sneak stat so that you can get around easier without having to deal with a lot of enemies. Given the type of game this is, there’s a lot of possible builds.
And, well, a lot of stat managing. I look at all of it and my eyes glaze over, head empty, as I repeatedly forget what stats do what. But not to worry, because the game has a whole bunch of mouse over tool tips to help you keep track of what is what. It’ll even handily tell you what equipped items are contributing to certain stats so that you can easily sort the important things in your inventory. So hey, you don’t have to be a brain genius to figure out a specific build you’re going for, which makes for a pretty accessible experience.
So as mentioned, MidBoss‘ unique differentiating gimmick is the possession mechanic. In any form, you can prime an enemy for possession with a simple spell. Upon defeating the enemy, you get the choice of either possessing the enemy – which is also a full heal – or just draining health. I think it’s an interesting choice because I found that it creates its own conflicts. Say that you’re in a form that’s low on health; you could go for the full heal, but the form you’ll end up taking is a monster you don’t want at the moment or you prefer to hang on to your current form. If you’re in a tight spot, you can prime your attacker for possession – but would you want to risk wasting a turn if you’re a hit away from death?
Now, the default imp form is unique in that you can embody the traits of multiple mastered forms. I guess you can think of it as a “freelancer” class. You can choose what forms to embody, which will raise your stats and give access to the skills and passive benefits of those other forms. Through this, the imp form can easily become the most powerful and versatile.
Trying to manage the abilities you get in imp form, though, is probably my biggest annoyance that doesn’t come with the territory of the genre. You’d have to go into a separate menu to look at each form individually to change the active skills and passives of equipped forms or to see if there’s a form that has skills that’d be more beneficial, even if it lowers your overall stats. It’s just kinda annoying to keep track of.
I’ve played this game for about 5 hours and I have yet to win a run on my preferred settings. This is mainly because the later magic using enemies completely wipe the floor with me to demonstrate why magic builds are viable and good, actually. I’m definitely liking it, because besides the above, I don’t really have problems with it, and there’s a bunch of features that limits the frustrations people would have with this genre. It’s one of those games that you can play while watching something in the background, which is always alright by me.
MidBoss is a pretty good accessible roguelike that you can pick up among hundreds of other games in support of Black Lives Matter. I recommend donating to the cause anyway even if there was nothing on the line for you, but hey.