Today, I’m looking at something from the “Shorter Games With Worse Graphics” bundle… which is already over by now, but you can always get it separately. This game is made by CannibalInteractive, who also organized said bundle.
What is the game about? The title pretty much spells it out: It’s Six Random Characters and a Single Floor Dungeon, That’s the Whole Game. There is no story beyond what you can project on your characters. It’s fundamentally a roguelike created in the RPG Maker engine, which is surprisingly something I haven’t really seen a lot of?
When the game says the characters are random, it means it. The six characters are crafted through pools of different races and classes, tied together with a unique name. In one game, I got two slime characters, who can passively regenerate HP and MP and move twice a turn, but can’t equip things; one was a siegemaster that spreads that passive regeneration to everyone in the party while the other was a boss who has high stats but is too arrogant to accept healing. There’s a lot of unique party combinations (with 420 different possible permutations for individual characters) that can make each run of the game interesting, bringing the game in-line with its roguelike vision. You could get a party with really good attackers but no one with healing capabilities, and/or a party that technically has more than six characters because you have a beastmaster with controllable pets.
You traverse the single-floor maze in a first-party view, which again, is not something I’ve seen a lot of in RPG Maker. While wandering around the maze, you can find points of interest. You can scavenge equipment hidden in toilets, you can find computers that will print out licenses that can let characters equip new skills and you can find a variety of vending machines like a pizza or ramen machine to buy items. Of course, you’re trying to gun for the floor’s exit, which will lead to one last fight against a tough boss.
Of course, along the way, you’ll get into random encounters against kitschy SaGa/Final Fantasy Legend looking enemies. Given the random nature of the game, you can expect any kind of formation to jump at you regardless of your current status. The game dives into the more typical turn-based combat you’d expect from RPG Maker, though with the added complication of trying to figure out how to fight effectively with the hand you’re dealt. While some of the characters can be played like a standard fighter, some classes have more esoteric elements to figure out, like gunslingers that can change the type of bullet they’re using to enhance attack and archmages being unable to use equippable skills in exchange for having a really potent one.
As for the fights themselves, I find it to generally be easy. While some enemies have a lot of HP, it’s counterbalanced by the fact that you got six guys kicking the shit out of them; even better if you have somebody that can attack multiple times or has a high attack stat. Some enemies also tend to use buffs liberally, which either makes things harder or just kinda wastes a turn since they’re buffing something nonessential.
However, fights being easy works within the context of the game. The enemies are not out to kill you, but to wear you down for the finale. The thing is, there aren’t a lot of resources for you. Enemies don’t drop a lot of money so you can’t exactly splurge on items – and even then, you’d have to hunt around for a vending machine to actually buy stuff. In fact, it’s arguably easier to get better equipment to weather through the rest of the dungeon than covering the wounds. This makes for an oppressive game where you try to keep yourself put together in a desperate search for the exit, in hopes of being well-prepared enough to fight the threat at the end.
If I had any major complaint with the game, it’d be equipping skills. You don’t know what a skill from a license actually does until you actually equip it and go in the separate skills menu. Trying to figure out which skills are a good fit for which characters leads to a lot of switching between different menus, which is kind of an annoying process if you’re trying to be optimal. I think the annoyance could be alleviated a bit if there was a separate place to check out what skills do. You know how all the roguelikes have wikis that document all the items you pick up? I think some kind of documentation on the game’s skills to reference would be a nice piece of supplementary material.
Visually, the game is pretty minimalist. All you see is 1-bit textured walls and Gameboy style enemies. However, it’s completely reasonable given the constant first-person view of the game and the fact that making sprites or randomly generating sprites (which I don’t think is even possible in the RPG Maker MV engine) for the many, many permutations of characters you get is impossible for a normal team, let alone a sole developer. The chiptune music though? Pretty nice! It can get a bit monotonous but it fits the game well!
I think that “It’s Six Random Characters and a Single Floor Dungeon, That’s the Whole Game” is a pretty interesting concept and a well-realized vision of a roguelike in RPG Maker. As you can see in the above video, I also did a little speedrun of the game because I felt that the game could be open to such a thing.
So hey, if you have this game or if you’re checking it out, let’s have a little fun and see if you can beat my record. In fact, I’ll pay $25 to the first person that does and has the video evidence to prove it. AGDQ left me in a speedrun happy mood and if it’ll take a bounty to help get more attention on a game, so be it. Timer starts when you start moving and ends when you return to the title screen. Let’s go.