PEGBRJE: Flamberge and Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Dangit Gregor.

Flamberge is a tactical RPG made by hydezeke, a duo indie team consisting of Michael Savage-Benoist and Ben Cohn. Players follow the story of a world plunged in constant war, specifically within the mysterious kingdom of Abboll. Here is where the protagonists find themselves, starting originally with Logan, a soldier who was knocked out after an encounter with enemies speaking in a bizarre language. Awaking alone without his party, he rallies with another individual named Arberine and the two set out to the nearest town in search of answers as to who these strange forces were.

To those with experiences with Fire Emblem, Valkyria Chronicles, FF Tactics or X-COM, gameplay will seem familiar in mechanics yet intriguingly different in execution. Combat is in pseudo-real time and broken into two phases; the preparation phase, and the execution phase. Players will start their turn with everything stationary, and can click on individual units to determine their actions to be executed during the next phase. These actions consist of movement, attacking, and defending, and can be undone if the strategy doesn’t work. Each unit players come across has a different class that they utilize, giving them an attack and a defensive maneuver of some kind — this can be a dodge for the archer, a disarm for the soldier or a parry from the swordsman. Once players press that execute button, their strategy is then acted upon by the units and cannot be changed until every unit — including enemies — has completed their predetermined actions. This means that players can tell their units to attack, but if the enemy was told to move to a different location the attacks could miss completely and put that unit out of position.

It’s this intricate balance of preplanned strategy and execution that makes up the core gameplay, with players having to juggle between understanding their enemies as much as they understand their own units. Enemies will indicate loosely where and what they plan to do next, but the timing is difficult to correctly assess in battle, especially when having to take into account if player units must reposition to attack. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but thankfully isn’t as punishing as I was expecting thanks to the lack of perma-death amongst units. Sure they gain no experience for the fight, but that’s better than having them dead since their defensive maneuver only works against one attack and the elite was slow and one-shot my archer. Many of these skills also have a cooldown, so defending permanently isn’t a possibility in case one was thinking of attempting that. Once a battle has been won, players are treated to the overworld map, one of destinations to choose from in a fairly linear structure. Players can return to older nodes on a map, but cannot enter them unless they are shops or other significant locations. This is also where players can check their collected items to equip them to different party members, or upgrade hidden powers found deeper into the title.

I’d like to give a quick mention to the artstyle and atmosphere, because it was what drew me in to the title before I even knew how to play. I was immediately reminded of titles such as Moon Hunters and Odd Realm (featured earlier in the bundle), pixel art done with a specific mysticism and softness to it that can assist in immersion while somehow relaxing me. The soundtrack may have been the relaxation part, as the composition pieces by Ben Cohn are fantastic. There was always a sense of wonder mixed with calming even during many of the fights which was just a treat to listen to.

Add all of these together, and Flamberge isn’t even complete yet; in it’s current state, there are only 3 chapters to explore of the 6 planned. There is even a multiplayer version, although I didn’t have anyone to attempt them so I didn’t bother testing them out. There’s more to expect from this title, even if there’s already 3–4 hours(ish) of content to be had within, and is one that I’ll be lurking about to see it’s full launch. There were some bizarre interactions, and the simultaneous combat could feel a bit weird at times, but it all added to the charm of a world yet to be fully discovered.

Speaking of not being fully discovered… (great segue, nailed it)

Look at that gorgeous form. Truly, we have peaked.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a… game, made by Young Horses, an indie studio originally created by university students that came together to make a freeware title simply named ‘Octodad’ back in 2010. Fast forward 4 years and they made their return with Dadliest Catch to expand on their universe. Some may know them for their equally intriguing PS5 launch title Bugsnax, which I’ll be honest; I had no idea that they made both of these titles. Consider me uncultured I guess, but we’re getting off topic; what is Octodad? Well, it follows the titular Octodad himself, a family man who is just trying to help around the house, entertain his kids, love his wife, and generally be an average suburban individual.

Oh and I guess he’s an octopus. That’s kind of important.

Those who are familiar with the original Octodad will already know everything there is to know about how Dadliest Catch operates; Octodad is controlled as a marionette in a ragdoll world. Players control his individual limbs with different parts of the controller, from the trigger buttons for his legs to the two joysticks giving direction for his arm. With this control scheme, Octodad must complete different tasks ranging from simply getting from one place to another, to completing chores and helping around the house by grabbing hold of objects and trying his best. The more he breaks, however, the more those around him become suspicious of his actions; I too would be a little confused by a man doing the splits while pulling weeds, but I try not to judge. There are hidden items that Octodad can find, usually in the form of various neckties, and since nearly every object is interactable some levels can devolve into absolute chaos when nobody is watching as players may just tear the entire level apart to find those hidden neckties. Well, that or because they accidentally grabbed a potted plant and threw it through a window. The possibilities are endless, truly.

To compliment the absurdity of the gameplay, Dadliest Catch features a story to move Octodad through each level, with conversations with his wife Scarlett and his kids occurring in the background as he goes about his business. Scarlett is a reporter with a dangerous streak, wanting the insider scoop on everything and wishing to expose corruption where ever she goes, adding to the mild irony that she seems completely unaware that she is married to an aquatic animal. Tommy is his rambunctious son who wants to play sports with his dad and meet his favourite heroes from TV while Stacy is a peculiar individual who asks the most bizarre questions and wants to be purple. Children can be weird, but it’s these little background interactions that add to the hilarity of the situation, almost feeling like a sitcom minus the aggravating laugh track. Without them it would be a little hollow, as the wacky antics feel a bit repetitive over time. There’s only so many times that I can throw something through a window before I feel as if I’ve done it before, but thanks to the kids downright absurd questions it makes everything alright.

I will also add that the ending and the ‘ending’ of the game not only ask the question I had stuck in my head the entire game, but also just further cements the silliness of the entire ordeal.

If this feels like I’ve just stated a bunch of weird facts about the game, it’s probably because I’m still not sure how I feel about the title. The writing is fantastic and the antics are ridiculous, but I’m also not the biggest fan of ragdoll/puppet-like mechanics. I also cannot dismiss that I completely missed the time period in which this game was super relevant back in 2014, now 7 years ago — 11 years ago in respect to the original. It definitely has something special, as it even made me enjoy ragdoll controls just so I could figure out what weird interaction would come next between the kids spouting nonsense or Octodad literally speaking in blubs. If you haven’t tried Octodad yet somehow (like me until today), I do urge you to give a try and witness it in action; there’s even co-op somehow as multiple players can control different limbs. Truly, this dad cannot be stopped.

Blub Blubs.

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Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.

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