I interviewed Sigrid and Mattias from Unleash the Giraffe about their work on Obsidian Prince back in February (here). Since then, I’ve logged over 200 hours on the various test and alpha builds they’ve put out, and I’ve killed more purple zombies than you can shake a pointy stick at.
I’ve provided a fair share of feedback, and it’s fair to say I’ve gotten to know the developers and their game fairly well. As such, I’d say it’s fair to question whether I’m really able to provide a critical and unbiased review of their game – so I won’t even try.
Instead, I’ll just tell you a little about my experience of Obsidian Prince, and why I enjoy it.
The first thing you’ll see is the way the game looks. Voxel graphics and pixel art. It’s cute, and it tickles my nostalgia itch something fierce. Little square dudes hopping along on their way to the inn, or to the next village, or wherever little procedural dudes go when they’ve been set to roam (hint: click on them, click on them again).
Next up is the sense of humor in the game. There’s a kind of dorky punnery that goes beyond cringe-worthy dad jokes and comes back into funny again. Like, instead of thinking “no, that’s a lame joke” the game takes the joke, makes it even worse, and runs with it – to the point where the fact it exists at all makes the joke even funnier.
All that said, it’s not really about the graphics and the puns, but about how the game plays.
Obsidian Prince is a turn-based, tactical rogue-like dungeon-crawler. Essentially, this means you enter a dungeon, kill as many monsters as you can, and then you die, eventually. Then you do it again.
The challenge here isn’t in beating the game, but in getting a little deeper into the dungeon than the last time – it’s in beating your own score, or your own progress, or just finding a new funky character build that lets you progress further.
The above is for the Endless mode, which is the one I’ve been playing and investing my time in. The Early Access version of the game also comes with a campaign, where you explore the world, encounter challenges, and uncover little pieces of story to piece together as you go (if you want to – I have it on good authority, you don’t need to worry about the story if you just want to kill things).
Getting into the game took me a few tries. I very nearly decided that it probably wasn’t my kind of game, and then suddenly it clicked and things started making sense.
The on-the-ground indicators can sometimes be difficult to read. It’s not always possible to tell if a square means that a location is about to be hit by lightning, or if an enemy is going to teleport there – or both (yes, it can happen).
Getting killed. It’s bitter-sweet. There’s no actual beating Endless mode, but I still keep coming back for more, just to see how far I can get. It’s frustrating to die but at the same time, it’s in those last few rooms before it happens that the game is at its most enjoyable. Somehow, unless I mess up, each run always end when it’s at its most fun.
The game’s turn-based. I used to be a big fan of Diablo, but after an injury to my shoulder (not an arrow to the knee), I’m not able to play it for any length of time without pain. Obsidian Prince is in some ways a turn-based version of Diablo, and it brings a similar kind of joy when defeating the enemies. Throwing a chakram at a Rotting Creeper and blowing up a whole bunch of zombies in the process is immensely satisfying.
It’s just plain fun.
I want to say brainless fun, because you just go around killing stuff, picking up loot, and killing more stuff. Only, it’s not actually brainless. There’s a certain amount of thinking and planning involved, and if you start just hopping around without paying attention, you’ll end up dead pretty soon.
It’s not overly complex, though, and playing the game is quite relaxing, even on the harder levels.
The classes and the character builds. The game comes with five different classes, and each comes with its own play style. It should also be noted that each weapon in the game comes with its own ability, and it’s possible to swap weapons between classes. This provides a lot of options for experimentation and tweaking on top of the various card decks and ability picks (I won’t go into details about that – play the game).
Obsidian Prince takes a few tries to really get into, but once you do, it’s a great game to while away a relaxing evening.