PEGBRJE: Keep It Together and ‘I Have Low Stats But My Class Is “Leader”, So I Recruited Everyone I Know To Fight The Dark Lord’

N-no….

Keep It Together is a truly strange experience created by Fenreliania, a solo indie developer based out of Australia. Players will be following a simple individual who is attempting to converse with others. Sounds easy, relatively speaking, until one realizes that we are actually a hivemind of rats attempting to blend in with society and wrong answers make the entire hivemind nervous.

As this collective, players will be answering questions given to them by the individuals that approach them. These conversations are harmless on their own, consisting of menial small talk about how their daily life is going and what is happening at the moment. Unfortunately, they are all strangers to the player so there is no way to know which answer the individuals would prefer out of the four. Each wrong answer makes the hivemind nervous that they are arousing suspicion, which in turn stresses them out — indicated on the bottom right. Once this stress bar fills orange completely, an icon will appear for the player to press and hold a specific button on the keyboard. If at any time the button is let go, the hivemind will unravel as their health depletes; reach zero means that the rats are panicked, and scatter to the winds.

The true aim of Keep It Together is found within the intense feeling of stress and anxiety that will be felt as wrong answers pile up. Right answers will not increase stress, revealing clues on each individual’s preference in answers; that does not stop the inevitable feeling of dread as a single wrong answer catapults the stress meter towards its completion. One letter is easy enough to keep held down, two is doable, but what about three or four? Sure, players will generally have the dexterity to keep these pressed, but it is the general feeling of discomfort as the hand contorts to reach every new letter without lifting that creates this panic. Each conversation suddenly feels like a possible landmine, that the player is walking on eggshells out of fear that they’ll get it wrong, and that is when it clicks.

As one who has felt varying degrees of social anxiety throughout my life and lived with those who were actively crippled by it, Keep It Together does a fantastic job of personifying the utter inevitability that comes with social interactions. It seems a bit silly at first, trying to give answers to random people and they scare the hivemind, but its that feeling that many go through. It makes all those little interactions that shouldn’t be important suddenly feel life threatening, even when they are not. If you’ve ever wanted a game that could help you empathize with those that have these anxieties, then this might be it.

I’m glad you understand, get in the train.

I Have Low Stats But My Class Is “Leader”, So I Recruited Everyone I Know To Fight The Dark Lord is the lengthy titled RPG adventure created by CannibalInteractive, the indie dev name of Damien Crawford. Our adventure begins as Josephine prepares to follow in her parent’s footsteps, but instead of fighting the Dark Lord head on she has devised a better plan; get the entire town to fight instead.

IHLSBMCILSIREIKTFTDL (what an acronym) follows our mute protagonist as she prepares her army for the upcoming Dark Lord fight, but starts with her completely alone with a single quest to return her grandfather’s hat. While traversing the town, she will encounter dozens of different individuals who feel compelled to join her for the fight for various reasons. Some may be friends or relatives wanting to assist the poor girl who is aware of her own shortcomings, while many others are bored with standing around and are looking for some action. Regardless of their reasonings, they fall in line behind Josephine until the entire town has agreed to join her in this fight. That is hilarious on its own, but the recruitment of all these people JRPG style is only half the game; we still have the other half of a JRPG, and let me say that it is just as ridiculous.

Most JRPGs will have turn based combat in which the player’s party consisting of a half dozen members will fight against an enemy, trading blows and utilizing mechanics. IHLSBMCILSIREIKTFTDL here decides that this is boring: we just spent forever getting all these people together, why not fight with them all? How this works is that every eligible ally will line up with Josephine, able to be selected at any time to use their skills and attacks. The enemy is then in a ‘timer’ scenario, where every skill utilized by the player will move towards the enemy being able to take their turn; certain moves will give more progress than others. What this means is that Josephine can create combos with her allies and find which attacks are the strongest against which enemies without worrying about turn order. Since there are so many units, element types and synergies to worry about this is a life saver.

The initial shenanigans alone IHLSBMCILSIREIKTFTDL worth a small playthrough, but the inclusion of combat mechanics that utilize everyone makes for an even more ridiculous time. The writing is on point with hundreds of puns to sift through, and enough self aware dialogue to give parodies a run. If you like silly JRPGs that finally ask the question of ‘why can’t I use everyone?’ then you finally found your answer.

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