I don’t do it often – mainly because I’d get flooded with requests impossible for me to keep up with – but I checked out a demo of an upcoming game. However, I found that it was a bit short to write about. But! There was actually a game demo I checked out a long time ago back in spring’s Steam Next Fest that I never got around to writing about even though I wanted to. Then I thought, “hey, this is still pretty short,” so I decided to add one more demo to this.
So today, we’re looking at Beloved Rapture, Splatter and Mislight!
Beloved Rapture is an RPG by Rapturous Studio being published by 2 Left Thumbs, which is due to come out in early 2023. It aims to be a classic JRPG experience melded with themes that resonate with today’s audience.
The demo covers the first chapter, following the story of Johan, a young man that’s unsure of what to do with his life. Johan could go see the greater world with his friend(?) Zach, but he also feels obligated to stay home with his mom that he has a bit of a love-hate relationship for.
In the background, discontent for the kingdom’s government grows. Unfortunately, its strongest rebellious voice is the Aeons, a death cult looking to bring the Rapture. Johan’s dad also happens to be part of them, so I guess this is a story about having a QAnon dad.
In the realm of old-school style RPGs, Beloved Rapture is very pretty, with nicely detailed environments and neat battle animations. What surprises me is that this game was made in RPG Maker 2003 specifically, going by the log files in the game’s folder. Maybe I just haven’t been paying too much attention to that specific scene, but it’s certainly pushing the boundaries of the engine in terms of style and presentation.
Beloved Rapture has a nice flow to its combat system. Attacking regenerates MP to use skills, and while you can always use stronger MP recovery items, you can’t deny the utility of dealing damage. Besides that, you’re incentivized to use the normal attack over skills because it builds up Relica, the limit break-esque skill.
Besides the utility added to the normal attack, you’re also encouraged to defend more. Defending heals the defender’s HP, which may be more cost effective than using a healing item. However, it does not heal if you’re defending on consecutive turns, so you’re encouraged to switch things up. Ideally, you’d be taking up the defensive in between taking shots at the enemy, with occasional switches to a stronger skill or a Relica attack.
To be honest, I liked the combat the most when it was just Johan roughing it on his own, because it encourages you to get into that flow. The flow is not as present when he has Zach backing him up, as the regular encounters could easily get bodied without relying on the offense-defense switch-ups too much. This makes me wonder how the final version of the game will turn out: will this gameplay flow I found satisfying still be present when you have the full party?
The demo gives a nice simple look at how the game will be, and the end teases that we’ll be getting one chapter for each of the main characters before throwing them together like Dragon Quest IV. I’m curious to see how the themes of the game will develop further, because, at least to me, I get the read that this game will be about dealing with religious extremists trying to topple a flawed status quo for their own ends. Hm, certainly doesn’t remind me of anything.
Now we move on to Splatter, a first-person fever dream by Rat King Collective. Trapped in a digital mindscape with cult ties, you must survive the threats that the mindscape’s mysterious administrators throw at you.
Easily the most noteworthy aspect of Splatter is its pure good vibrations. 2000s internet culture crosses into vaporwave aesthetics, where you fight bright digital constructs in garish versions of mundane environments. Neon blood gushes out of enemies to the beat of club music or dissonantly chill music, the buzz of a cell phone and a screen glitch occasionally breaking up the action to announce the next phase of the level.
Do you know that FPS transition pipeline image that’s associated with trans women with Cruelty Squad on it? Splatter is Cruelty Squad’s genderfluid cousin – and I also mean that literally, because you unlock shooting techniques that are empowered by testosterone and estrogen. As we all know, trans women start with the ability to do Inuyashiki pistol shots and trans men learn how to do shotgun blasts.
The structure of Splatter’s levels – at least based off of what the demo offers – has you surviving multiple waves of enemies until the level graciously decides to let you out. Besides the number of enemies increasing, the waves get more dangerous in that enemies adapt to your behavior. Shoot enemies in the chest too much and new enemies spawn in with chest armor, headshots eventually lead to head armor, etc. Personally, I welcome it because besides it being kinda cool, I tend to shoot willy-nilly, so I go unpunished for my lack of precision.
At points in a level you can pick up CDs to swap out what you’re firing with your estrogen and testosterone. Personally a big fan of the one where you concentrate a finger gesture around enemies and fire a mind laser at them. While there’s not an ammo count, the estrogen and testosterone runs on a cooldown system, so you’ll frequently be swapping what you’re fighting with to keep the dopamine pumping and that serotonin flowing.
My only complaint is that it runs kinda finnicky on my computer, but also my computer is shit, so what do I know?
Splatter actually comes out sometime next month, so if you like its vibes like I do, you don’t have to wait long for a full taste.
Finally, we have Mislight, by Etherlight, mushgo, WalGallen. One night, a young girl found herself spirited away to a nightmare world full of shadow creatures. But not to worry, a friendly mushroom fellow’s given her a flashlight that’s pretty much just a gun, so all is well.
Mislight’s a platforming shooter with some mild Metroidvania elements. You jump around, shoot stuff, collect currency and lore, the works. Taking damage from enemies raises your character’s fear gauge and you lose when it fills up, so I guess she dies of an Illbleed heart attack.
Levels are all in the dark, with the only light being the radius around the character, the glowy bits on enemies, and the bullets they shoot. It’s… sort of a weird aesthetic for me because I can see this aesthetic really melding if this was a more horror oriented game, but the game’s general look is more cutesy than anything. The cutesy look is nice, but it feels at odds with the rest of the package, if that makes sense.
The game’s usage of light really is just for the aesthetic, as it currently stands. Like hey, the flashlight’s just a glorified gun. But, what if it wasn’t? What if the flashlight’s bullets weakened the farther they go from the source? That’d create a situation where players can safely shoot at a distance, but if they really want to do some damage, they can practically shine the flashlight in a shadow monster’s face to do full damage for some high-risk, high-reward action. What if the shadow monsters didn’t glow outside of their attacks, forcing you to be more cautious walking around? I dunno, I really think that Mislight can play around with this aspect of the game more.
The demo’s got a boss battle, which I consider to be a low point. For what’s supposed to be the first boss, it has way too much health, which contrasts against the fact that the boss can kill in three hits without items. Dodging its attacks is easy, but it’s one of those things where you’re prone to messing up because it just drags on and you get impatient. This might be because I played on keyboard, but the fact that the game has you tapping the fire button instead of letting you hold it for rapid fire is also a point of fatigue that may have contributed to me thinking this fight was a drag. I actually ended up having to tap out – not because of the game necessarily, but because my hands have been feeling fucked up from work and a bunch of repetitive pressing would have probably made it worse.
You can grind up some currency to get an attack upgrade to make the fight go more smoothly, but also, I don’t think that should be a thing. In fact, if the game’s going to have exploration elements, maybe the attack upgrade should be a collectable item instead of something to buy.
Overall? It’s kinda (shrug). To be honest, a big reason why I don’t take requests willy-nilly is that I don’t wanna rain on the parade of other small developers. The core action of Mislight’s alright, but everything else doesn’t fully come together yet. But that’s fine! Demos aren’t exactly representative of the full game, so there’s definitely space for the developers to craft something more concrete.
While I do get frustrated about getting sent stuff to look at, it was nice to take a step back from my usual stuff to play some shorter experience. I don’t know if I’ll have the time and focus to look at the full games in the future, but I wish the developers the best of luck!
Also please stop sending me requests to look at your game I’m begging you I’m just one person with not enough time in the world