Highlights from IGMC Rebirth – 4

And so, we have the final week of me trying to look at IGMC games. In a few more days, the judging period for IGMC 2022 will end, so before everyone knows what won out in this game jam, let’s look at a few more random entries! Once again, Infomantis has been joining along to check out games, and I thank them for keeping me focused on this task. So, without further ado:

The first game that Infomantis chose for me was RE:Calibur, by Nowis-337. They also told me that the developer made a cool free game called Buffet Knight. I never played it, but people like that game, so there’s definitely some expectations to be had with this.

1000 years ago, a hero defeated a dark lord, who proclaimed that they will come back to life in 1000 years. In the modern day, the hero’s descendant Hitch trains to prepare for the fight, but when danger starts to rear its head, her grandpa deems her inadequate for the task ahead. So, Hitch takes it upon herself to take the family’s ancestral sword to avert the prophecy on her own.

RE:Calibur is a top-down action game, though action is not as much of a focus as other top-down competitor Remnants of Calandria. It’s easy to build up strength, especially with the sword’s ability to suck in the lives of enemies that’s weaker than you. The only challenge you’ll face are the boss fights, though by the last one you’ll probably be strong enough to just tank the hits. However, the game’s action aspects being a breeze feels like the point.

In the narrative of the game, Hitch has the conflict of trying to gain power the easy way as opposed to the careful training her grandfather tries to instill in her. And you know, absolute power corrupts absolutely, especially if it’s gained the easy way. As such, there’s actually two endings: one where Hitch takes the easiest path toward becoming all powerful, while the other has her fighting with what she has. I think RE:Calibur’s story is simple with a twist that you can see coming, but it does an effective job at that and the gameplay being simple does a good job at tying the game’s themes together. It’s not an ambitious game, but it’s simple and sweet.

The second game that caught our eye was Mayor on the Run, a simulation/adventure game by SeaPhoenix. Now, while I was playing it, I kept thinking that it reminded me of something. As it turns out, SeaPhoenix also developed The Rock and the Rose, which was the 2nd place winner of the 2017 IGMC! For this jam, SeaPhoenix returns with a similar yet more fleshed out experience.

Also from what I’m seeing, the original 3rd place winner of the 2017 IGMC, Final Winter, became lost media? What the hell? I mean I know a lot of games become lost media, but for a contest winning game to disappear is honestly kinda wild. Anyway.

In Mayor on the Run, you play as a fugitive that comes across a dying town, which decides to appoint him as the town’s mayor on the spot. You know, normal politics. Being given a place to stay, the man that comes to dub himself as Carrot chooses to stick around for a while to help breathe new life into the town – and come into a rebirth of his own.

You play through the game fixing up the town and helping villagers out with sidequests. If a house is available, you’re given the choice of residents to house, who have their own needs and potential sidequests. Unlike real life politicians, Carrot can choose to do his best to make his residents happy by following up on those sidequests and spending the town funds to furnish the place. Or maybe plot to skip town to avoid the authorities closing in.

A criticism I had with The Rock and the Rose was that clearing it demanded near perfect play. However, I found that there’s wiggle room with Mayor on the Run. The bits of puzzles you have to do is simple to pursue if you’re observant enough, and unlike the hotel guests in the Rock and the Rose, you don’t have to make residents happy immediately, so you can wait a bit on that if you don’t have the funds to satisfy them. Most importantly, there’s a shop available to sell things off if money management is going poorly for you.

There isn’t necessarily a “right” way to achieve victory in this game, at least as far as I can tell. But also: you’re playing the game wrong if you don’t bring in the rat circus. Who wouldn’t love a rat circus? Overall, it’s a very chill easygoing game, and for me, it shows that the developer’s still strong at making this kind of game.

Now, when I talk about highlights, I don’t just mean “good games.” Sometimes a game isn’t put together very well, but the components that’s there are interesting. I consider myself a Drakengard fan for a reason.

And so, my third highlight from this week is this game is dead, by rousseauslemma. This developer is a complete unknown to me – and I genuinely suggest that everyone take a look at their other works that can be played in the browser because it just raised more questions for Infomantis and I. I have no clue what the vibes of this developer is, but whatever it is, I like it.

The world and its circumstances are randomly tweaked at the start of every session, but there is always one universal truth: there is a dead body in your house, and you have to go figure out how to revive the poor sap. The game has a unique framing device in that the disembodied skull of the body (presumably) has all the power: the camera is centered on it and you can only talk to people by bringing the head up to people. While it’s an adventure game, it’s more of an adventure game in the vein of old point-and-clicks instead of old RPG Maker ones, where clicking can act as movement and you have a UI to refer to actions like picking stuff up, talking, accessing the inventory, etc.

The vibes of this game is dead? Just impeccable. Everyone is a weirdo, everything looks nice and colorful, and we found the music to be really engaging. I had no idea how to really describe the music, so I recorded some footage so you can listen to some tracks yourself. The devil is selling a book, a guy’s inviting you to his own funeral later in the week, saving is done by talking to the mighty O-Man once a day, there’s just a bunch of noise to take in. Overall, this game is dead feels very unique and may be the most unique offering IGMC has in terms of style.

But is it a good game? Well… there are a lot of bugs. For whatever reason, you can’t pick up the skull by interacting with it with standard RPG Maker controls, you have to click on it… which becomes a problem if you’re too close to the wall where the camera is, because the perspective will have you misclicking everywhere, which is pretty much a softlock. And well, it’s hard to grasp on what to do in the game because the direction is extremely unclear. You will not find a traditional linear story here. In fact, I’m pretty sure that most people will get turned off by the game within a few minutes because they probably won’t know what to do, and I don’t blame them. However, Infomantis and I, being Cruelty Squad heads, were extremely for soaking in the good vibrations.

The game session ultimately ended when I went back home and people kept knocking at the door. Random NPCs walked in to remark on the body, and eventually one of those NPCs was a knight (the medieval cop) who arrested me for whatever the hell happened to leave a dead body lying around. Good stuff.

So yeah, this is definitely not a game that will go far with IGMC, but I can definitely say that it’s won its way into my heart.

Doubting that I had time for the next day to look at more games, I decided to end things off with a bang: Life Eternal, by Ronove. If you’ve been reading this site but don’t remember who they are from my iceberg posting, they are actually a pretty renown RPG Maker developer, mostly known for their hit game Star Stealing Prince. So when I saw that they participated in the jam, I had high expectations going in.

A necromancer awakes in the aftermath of an attack on his lord, having been sealed away so that he may act as a contingency plan when he’s defeated. All alone in the castle, the necromancer sets about on his quest to bring his lord back to life. Though, as he goes about that, he finds little reminders around, making him question whether that’s something worth doing.

Easily the most defining aspect of Life Eternal is its presentation. The art is very intricate and it has all these pretty visual novel dialogue busts, which are actually animated; normally I find animated busts to be kinda uncanny, but Ronove really makes them work here. Beyond the visual novel presentation, the tiles and maps are well-made, giving a good impression of a lived in castle and a many years old conflict. The game generally leans on a brighter palette, which I think works well with the story in that it hides the darker undertones that the necromancer doesn’t seem aware of.

While the presentation’s strong, the story is no slouch either. Going in, I had the impression that this was a boy’s love game, with the necromancer showing off a loving devotion to his lord that’s certainly more romantic than platonic. However, trudging along, it gradually becomes clear that their relationship is rather unhealthy, even beyond the innate power dynamic. The lord wound up giving me real Makima vibes to me – if you know, you know.

Beyond the main story, exploring around nets you hidden bits of dialogue, especially for some of the skeletons lying around, who served under the lord and necromancer in their previous unlife. It’s really a small thing, but the necromancer showing a past with his familiars demonstrates that he himself is a good guy and that he had reasons to stick to his lord besides thirst. So hey, maybe he doesn’t have to follow his lord forever, if that’s what you choose to do.

Overall, there’s just no complaints with this game. It’s a nice well-made adventure with a compelling vision, demonstrating that Ronove’s still got it.

I wish I had more free time so I could check out more games, but alas. Still, I checked out about 1/5th of all the entries, which I feel is a good amount. If there was another game I could check out, it’d be amythical, which was made by the creator of A Ghostly Rose – who also incidentally won 3rd place in the 2014 IGMC. Based on that track record, I’m sure this would have been good.

You might ask, what games do Infomanis and I think would win IGMC? Well, disqualifying Infomantis liking my game, they think that To Be Continued, Life Eternal and Ouroboros: A Dungeon Crawling Adventure would be in the top 3, with Dad on Arrival, Gacha Hell and Bloom Underworld being other favorites. Honestly? My thoughts are largely the same; I think we have differences on specifics (like, Infomantis felt that Ouroboros wasn’t standalone enough, but I don’t think that’s a problem), but well, same hat. But of course, this is all just out of the games we managed to see. There may be another game out there that absolutely trounces these that we did not manage to get to.

Regardless, this has all been fun and I can’t wait to see what wins out in the end! Once again, thanks to Infomantis for being here on this journey with me. I’ve never been as in-depth with previous game jam coverage as I have with this one, so I’m grateful to them for keeping me focused and picking out games when my choice paralysis would normally get in the way!

One comment

  1. that little tidbit about that 2017 IGMC third place winner going missing reminds me of how the entire 2014 IGMC website as well as all entries directly submitted there and nowhere else are also probably all lost now considering that it was unceremoniously taken down and replaced when the 2015 IGMC came along, what a waste


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