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    dkirschner's Nobody Saves the World (PC)

    [January 24, 2022 09:12:40 AM]
    This popped up on Game Pass last week and when I looked it up on a whim, saw that it is a new game from Drinkbox Studios, who developed the quirky Guacamelee! games, which I love. This is an action-RPG with a similarly colorful art style and silly humor. It's fun and has an engaging gameplay loop with quests, dungeons, and unlocks, but is very grindy by design!

    In Nobody Saves the World, you play as Nobody, a "naked baby salamander" (as an early character describes you) with a wand that gives him the power to change forms. Your goal is to defeat the Calamity, which is infecting people and taking over the land with a gross fungus. You do this by grinding quests through dungeons for 15 or 20 hours to level up your forms and become a badass.

    The forms are the magic design element and are really creative and fun to play with. You start off as Nobody and once you get the wand, you can turn into a rat with a basic chomp attack and a passive ability. The rat is also small and can traverse tight corridors (a throwback to Guacamelee!). You gain experience by completing quests. There is regular XP that levels up your stats and there is form XP, which levels up your forms from rank F to S and grants a few new abilities and ability slots along the way (think of games you've played with a class system--it's basically that, but you have all the classes). You gain form XP by completing quests using form abilities. So, it might say, "Chomp baddies with the rat 50 times," for example. Once you do that and rank up the rat, you'll get new form quests for new abilities.

    Once the rat ranks up enough, you unlock new forms. The rat opens up the egg, the ranger, and the guard. As you rank up forms and unlock new ones, you'll eventually be able to mix-n-match form abilities. So you can play as the guard, but equip the rat's chomp, the ranger's arrow strike, and the zombie's life leech passive. There are ultimately 15 forms to unlock, each with three abilities that you can equip on other forms--that's 45 abilities in however many combinations--plus other passive abilities you can purchase (some of which are required to complete quests and dungeons).

    Here is where I see more inspiration from Guacamelee!. All of the form attacks have an element associated with them (sharp, blunt, dark, light) and sometimes apply status effects (poison, slow, burn, etc.). Enemies don't have strengths or weaknesses per se (that I am aware of), but some dungeons do have modifiers. The main modifier type is to attach elemental wards on enemies. So, a dungeon might say "Level 40, sharp and blunt," which means that you need to make sure that your form has sharp and blunt attacks to break the wards on enemies before you can damage them. Or, you can have multiple forms at the ready, perhaps one to break sharp wards and one to break blunt wards. I just equipped all the elemental types I needed on one form though because switching forms is a little clunky and you are usually trying to rank up a given form anyway. Dungeons can have other modifiers too, such as increasing/decreasing enemy health or damage, prolonging status effects, being really dark, having enemies you can't knock back, and so on. The dungeon modifiers add some puzzle-like aspects to the game and require a little bit of strategy.

    Guacamelee! 2 was heavy on difficult platforming puzzles; these puzzles are about strategizing to break wards and overcome dungeon modifiers, and generally pose no problem. But, there are two crazy dungeons that I never really figured out (though I'm sure grinding to unlock/upgrade abilities is the answer; grinding is always the answer in this game), such as one that multiplies all damage by 9999 (so one-hit kills) and one in which enemy wards quickly regenerate. For the x9999 damage one, the ghost has an ability to ignore all enemy damage, which is probably the trick. I was running out of mana while using it, but I bet if I leveled the ghost up to S rank and upgraded that ability, and equipped other upgraded mana regen abilities, that I could do it. For the ward breaking dungeon, you just need a character that can break those kinds of wards with passive abilities and/or non-mana-using form abilities, and that can stay alive. I'm sure I could have done that one with some more experimentation later on.

    Anyway! The game requires that you complete most of the dungeons and overworld quests to complete it because the story ("legendary") dungeons require "stars" to enter. Lots of stars, which you get by...completing quests. So, you'll frolic around the overworld map, with its typical RPG towns and environments, and you'll delve into dungeons, and you'll watch numbers increase and unlock wacky new forms until you kill the final boss. I believe that the levels of dungeons and areas are set at some minimum threshold, and then scale to your level once you discover them, and then they become fixed. The map doesn't tell you what level a dungeon is until you discover it, and then it remains that level. The map also doesn't tell you what level an area is, but when you enter the area, it pops up on the screen. The area levels definitely increased (sometimes?), but I wish the map would tell you what level areas were because the only way to know is to go back to it.

    There are two other glaringly absent features. First, in a game about customizing character builds, it is odd that you can't save any builds. This would be useful, especially in new game +, where there are more dungeons with more modifiers. Like, my favorite dark and blunt combo would be nice to save, or my favorite build for a particular farm, so I can quickly use them again. The other, which really was annoying, is that the radial menu, from which you can quick-select forms, only has 8 forms on it. And for some mind-boggling reason, you can't select which forms are on it and you can't select where forms are located on the menu. It just shows the most recently used 8 forms. There should be a way to customize this. Or, there should be a toggle to bring up a "page 2" of the radial menu with the other 7 forms. You switch forms a lot and you will often find that the one you're looking for isn't there because it isn't among the last 8 you used, so you have to go back into the menus to select it. And since it automatically removes the oldest one for the newest one, then something else was bumped off, and the locations of forms change on the radial menu, which is annoying when you're in a battle and trying to--in real-time--switch forms. These two features, and especially the latter, seem like obvious holes.

    But, despite the holes where a couple features should be and the grind, this was still a fun game. There are certainly better action-RPGs, but I liked the art, the charm, and the ability to mix-n-match form abilities to tackle dungeons. It could definitely be made more difficult and could add more puzzle aspects!
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    dkirschner's Nobody Saves the World (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Thursday 20 January, 2022

    GameLog closed on: Sunday 23 January, 2022

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    This is so creative, charming, and fun. Very cool take on ARPGs. ---------- Fun, but grindy.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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