PEGBRJE: Eselmir and the five magical gifts, and Heavy Bullets

I couldn’t not use this picture, it’s just so good.

Eselmir and the five magical gifts is a point and click adventure epic made by Stelex Software, a Swiss/Italian duo studio with a list of titles to choose from. For this one specifically, it follows the tale of the mysterious Eselmir and his quest to find the five magical gifts that were buried with fabled leader King Theoson. The entire story is actually inspired by the fantasy saga ‘Pirin’ by Swiss writer Sebastiano B. Brocchi, with the artistic style done to match the drawings found in Brocchi’s novels. It’s importance will be revealed later; for now, we delve into the world of Eselmir.

Eselmir and the five magical gifts (which is not capitalized, oddly enough) starts the game by adapting the traditional formula of point and click adventures immediately. When attempting to interact with an object or person, players will right click to cycle through their possible actions, defaulting to ‘look’ as first action always. Items picked up by Eselmir can be accessed, but if they are useful to an interaction will be available to be used rather than attempting to utilize an item to receive the dreaded ‘That doesn’t make sense’ message. This streamlines the process immensely, for I found my biggest gripe with PaC titles was the amount of times I would attempt to brute force a solution by cycling through every item when stuck. This does open up the possibility of stumbling into solutions without realizing it, but I never found that to be the case while exploring the world. With the design choice, Stelex made the conscious decision to create puzzles that would utilize the world rather than just items found such as sigils, talks, interactions and more. And there are a lot of interactions.

Make no mistake, this game is an epic in its own right. With the backing of an entire fantasy series, Eselmir has absolutely massive amounts of lore and context to offer players as they adventure. It’s almost overwhelming at times due to the fantastical nature of the protagonist with the dozens of gods and creatures that will be introduced to and learn of. I’m a sucker for epic fantasy novels, so even when the pace slowed I was still oddly engaged; perhaps it was the adventures that Eselmir could partake in as side quests or the mysticism and secrecy of the tale. I wanted to see where I could go next in this world, I wanted to find those treasures and find out what exactly the masked individual from the prologue was talking about or who they were. The voice acting certainly helped with some of these longer periods of exposition, giving tones to characters while also allowing players to listen to the words and focus on the backdrops instead of reading.

This combination of streamlining the interaction process while maintaining the consistency of lore across a massive environment is what makes Eselmir so interesting to me. There’s so much going on to read, learn, explore and interact with thanks to the side quests and the lengthy lore available. If you are a fan of the original series, this game is an absolute must-play, almost a love letter to the series. For those of us who haven’t, it’s definitely worth checking out thanks to the QoL improvements and mystical feeling. It’s a huge title for a point and click adventure, advertising 15 hours of epic exploration. If this sounds like something you’d love to divulge in, jump right in to this tale.

What a trippy basement

Heavy Bullets is a chaotic FPS dungeon crawler made by Terri Vellmann, an indie dev out of Brazil, and published by the masters of chaos themselves Devolver Digital. Players are a janitor of sorts, tasked with rebooting the mainframe in the basement; only issue is that for some reason, the basement is full of terrifying monster things. Thankfully the protagonist at least has a gun, and a need to get that paycheque (did somebody say exploitation? Fire them).

Stripped to its core, Heavy Bullets focuses on throwing players into a 8 levelled basement that’s been randomly generated on start filled with enemies. With a single six shooter, destroying enemies will result in money which can then be either used to buy upgrades and items or banked for later as — surprise — dying wipes everything on the player. The logic being that every run is a new janitor/staff member, which is super cruel to think about so let’s not. The big twist is that this six shooter players are given is loaded with bullets that remain after firing, meaning that players will need to collect them to put them back and reuse them. Some may remember the title Gutwhale from page 8 had a similar mechanic of recycling bullets, but for Heavy Bullets players will also have to reload each bullet manually. It’s easily the most difficult thing to remember, as I died more than once trying to shoot an enemy only to realize I had 8 bullets on me and none of them were actually loaded.

Once players overcome their fear of reloading, there are many other things to take in and possibly fear. From enemies jumping out of tall grass to terrifying massive insects dropping from the ceiling, this corporation really needs to just fumigate the entire basement. On the less murderous side, the use of sound by Doseone is utterly incredible. Each coin dropped or bullet left on the ground will bounce and move towards the player’s location at a slow rate, while also periodically setting off a ping. This ping is in full 3D so that players can identify its location regardless of where they are, with it even muffling when a wall is in between. Enemies will also give off sound cues for certain actions they attempt, such as distinct screeches they spot the player and when they actually attack. They’re all super distinct as well, so it’s hard to mistake an enemy for another on sound cues alone.

While this may not seem like much, I honestly couldn’t tear myself away from this title. Perhaps it was the combination of simple yet effective combat, the quick restart after losing to send me right back down into the basement. The terrifying beauty of the neon colours or the snappy shooting. Only way to find out is to try it for yourself; if you love roguelike dungeon crawlers and fantastic shooting, try this out.

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