Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Suggested Gaming: Space Funeral

Space Funeral is a wonderful freeware game by thecatamites and is more than worth the two hours of your life you’d be putting into playing the game. It actually shines as an example of creative design and keeping the turn-based RPG formula, most associated with Japanese video games, interesting and fresh. Where most turn-based RPGs tend to divide up story and gameplay, Space Funeral makes them intertwined as the narrative is inseparable from the world it creates.

The game begins at the protagonist Phillip’s house where his father and mother more than coax him into leaving. The adventure from there is searching for the City of Forms to return the world from what it has become. What has it become? Ugly. Characters lack attractive asymmetrical features, world often covered in blood and horrible creatures, and buildings (for the most part) are hideous heads in gaping-mouth horror. This is the world your character Phillip lives in. And if it isn’t clear from the surroundings it should be obvious by his movements and constantly flowing tears it is one he wants to get out of.

Through his travels Phillip meets up with a horse-like creature made up of disembodied legs, appropriately named “Leg Horse.” These are the only two characters you will get in your party for the remainder of the game, but the difficulty curve is not extreme at all. The game paces itself for a short adventure, keeping dull grinding and pointless running around to a minimum. Because of the length it is all too likely you will be able to finish the game before you’re level twenty. But exploration does provide plenty of awards, especially for returning players.

The game is intentionally humorous. As the world itself is bizarre and ugly unlike the intent of the average JRPG where everything often aims for beauty or kawaii, the game is gleeful absurd at points, slightly mocking the melodrama often found in similar games. For example, at one point I was forced to make a tough decision and was permanently transformed into a fish for the remaining game. Every-so-often you will find grim letters and comment upon how depressing they are. Missing the comedy misses the point. The game is constantly poking fun at itself and the RPG genre as a whole.

The music is wonderfully fitting for the world. Although the musicians were credited, these are songs being used without permission from professional artists. But a free game won’t likely hurt their sales. If anything the creator promotes the music, dedicating the majority of credits to the song titles and performers, like the game was created around a great mixtape.

It may actually be a horrible shame for a person (especially a JRPG fan) to not enjoy this game. The core gameplay is solid and thecatamites turns the standard rules and regulations of the RPG into a strange and funny adventure with a completely unique aesthetic. You can download the game RIGHT HERE and I hope you really enjoy it.

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