PEGBRJE: Underhero and Throw Cubes into Brick Towers To Collapse Them
Underhero is a 2D adventure RPG made by Paper Castle, a development team out of Spain (formerly Venezuela) consisting of 4 friends and asks the player a simple question: what if the underlings were smart enough to kill a hero? That is the state that the ‘kid’ is in, an underling who outsmarts the hero and ends up killing them and their fellow underlings. This kid is then stuck with the hero’s sassy talking sword, and once the boss Mr. Stitches finds out, he tasks the player to return the magical stones back to their respective bosses. Only to kill off the only other minion that knows of the hero’s death — he is evil after all. So now it’s up to this underling kid with a stolen talking sword to figure out what Mr. Stitches might be up to, and to juggle between their directive and destroying all of the evil minions at the sword’s behest.
Historically the peons of an RPG are cannon fodder for the Hero™, with various attacks and models but lacking in the smarts to actually threaten a hero’s life. There have been dozens of different media pieces on the subject of evil groups becoming actually intelligent, from Dorkly’s animated series to the Dungeon Keeper video game series. Evil doers finally realizing the faults in their convoluted schemes or bizarre allowances to thwart those good guys as they always wish that they could. So where does Underhero fit into this? Ironically, after all that build up, I’m uncertain that it truly fits into the same mold and instead sets out to make its own. Upon killing the hero, the underling is greeted by Elizabeth, the sword in question, and immediately hides her in his inventory before the boss can find out about it. The underling then, while tasked with returning the stones to the bosses of the other worlds, decides to become the hero instead and fights against their fellow peons to help Elizabeth uncover what Mr. Stitches is actually planning.
Underhero uses its unique setting to cleverly weave a world that pokes fun at traditional elements of other side-scrolling RPGs. The starting hub world that transports the kid everywhere is the main lair of Mr. Stitches, complete with the kid’s apartment, a theatre for speeches, and the portal room that supplies each world with all of its minions. The save station of each world is a breakroom for minions, manned by family of shadowy sisters who require a one time payment to keep the punch card reader active. Puzzles littered throughout each world have been beaten by the previous hero, and are being reset by clumsy minions who get this ‘masked child’ to finish the job for them so naturally players just create the easiest puzzle possible to continue. Everything is built on the idea that the worlds have already lost to the hero previously, and are either milling about wondering when the next one will come along or completely ignoring their objective to lounge around while they wait.
Underhero completes the satirical nature of itself with its interactions and combat mechanics with other peons. At first glance, the interface and system looks to be similar to other 2D RPGs — stamina bar, attacks that use that stamina which recharges over time, shielding and parrying, ranged attacks and heavy attacks. Where Underhero utilizes its evil-as-good-guy charm is in the fact that enemies don’t view you as such until provoked. After all, the minions see the kid as one of them, so why would they attack? This allows the kid to interact with them before combat, gaining information that could either be completely trivial or extremely useful for understanding the world the kid inhabits. Enemies will either complain about how they have been stuck on that platform for dozens of years, or drop hints as to where the kid might need to go. Once combat is in full swing, they ability to talk to them will be removed and you’ll start hurting each other to the point that the enemies will give sad emojis or pleads to the kid to stop. It’s kind of… painful to see these minions minding their own business only to get randomly curbstomped by a kid with a talking sword. Thankfully, there is another additional mechanic added: bribery. If you have the coin, enemies can be bribed and no longer attack you ever again. They can still be interacted with to gain that information, but will now give an additional line of dialogue best described as a winky face followed by ‘Thanks a bunch for the non-money kid’.
Small little aside, but the addition of the red skulls that loom over death pits of spikes is a fantastic addition. At first I thought them to be things to avoid, only to realize that they indicated whenever there were spikes on the ground below that the player cannot see. One of my biggest fears when platforming is not knowing what is below, and the fear of missing only to drop to a completely new area and get utterly lost, so this addition was a godsend. Thank you, Paper Castle for this little UI element.
Underhero’s charm comes from how it plays off its own tropes to build a story through the lens of a character never destined to be the hero. It questions what ‘fate’ is, why heroes keep always winning, and who in their right minds plans a tree to be the place for a motorcycle race as that is easily a fire hazard. It leans into all of these tropes, fully self-aware in just how ridiculous the idea of heroes appearing to defeat the same guy over and over again with a magical talking sword, and somehow the minions don’t seem to mind getting beaten up every time. Elizabeth is a fantastic character who drives most of Underhero’s charm, even remarking constantly about just how convoluted most of this feels or why there are so many mini games. If you want an RPG that is fully aware of its absurdity with a twist that is utterly ridiculous, do yourself a favour and try out Underhero when you’ve got a chance. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to figure out what is going on with Mr. Stitches’ shark sidekick.
Throw Cubes into Brick Towers To Collapse Them is the longest title for a game, and it was made by nothke a solo indie developer. In this game, you build towers and then destroy them by throwing a cube at them. That is it. You can pack your bags now.
Alright, let’s try to be more thorough.
TCIBTTCT is a piece of software as much as it is a game. From the base game, it gives players the tools to create their own towers based on width, height, length, and others factors in order to render the tower. If players wish, they can load a tower in from MagicaVoxel, a free Voxel-art editor to bring their models into the simulator so that they can see just how durable their buildings are. Players can manipulate other elements of the simulation as well, such as wind speed, to test out the durability of the towers before destroying them in glorious fashion. It’s this customization that draws players to it, giving them dozens of options to see just how a tower would fall under certain circumstances.
This is a physics simulation game at its core, touted as the first published game with Unity Havok physics, which it very well may be. It’s soothing to watch all the blocks fall in a chaotic mess that follows proper physics, almost cathartic really. Do be aware that this game WILL destroy your computer if you try to be cheeky and max everything out, as it will attempt to load everything and you’ll be left with a 100% CPU fiesta. Otherwise, load in a voxel tower and go to town shooting it.
If you need something to destress you in our current pandemic-fun times, try shooting towers for a few minutes. Might help.
Underhero is a 2D side-scroller RPG adventure game with turn-based combat... without the turns! Precisely timed actions…