Indie Insights Vol. 34 – Fairy Tale Hunt

indie insights 34

 BWell, well, well. What’s this? Indie Insights coming out again after just coming out last week? Yes, the rumors you haven’t heard are true; Indie Insights is going weekly because there are SO MANY GAMES I love that I never get to talk about. The indie game scene is flourishing with creativity and freshness, and I have created my own excuse to play more demos and full games.

Here’s what I played this week!

Final Profit: A Shop RPG

Final Profit stats
Image credit: Brent Arnold.

As part of my access to LudoNarraCon, I was super lucky to also receive a couple of full games. One of those games was Final Profit: A Shop RPG from developer Brent Arnold. I hadn’t heard of this one before, but the positive reviews and twist on a typical RPG story interested me. Now, I can’t stop playing it.

In a magical world where faeries are real, booze restores mana, and Capitalism has its cleated boot on society’s throat, the Queen of the Fae has had enough. Queen Mab wants to take on Capitalism and The Bureau, the shady organization that keeps people oppressed, and take it down from the inside. Her harebrained scheme gets her ousted from the land of Faeona, but she persists. It is time to become a Lord of Business!

Under the pseudonym Madama Biz, Queen Mab sets up a shop in the closest town. The aim of the game is to manage stock, do market research, collect customers, and expand. I love a management sim because I must control everything at all times. There is also the problem of The Bureau who oversee all Capitalist dealings. As you advance in the game, you will have to make enough money.

Final Profit: A Shop RPG Balances Clever Writing and Inventory Management

You’re required to keep things running, order products, buy upgrades, and more. Oh, and there’s also paying taxes to The Bureau and repaying loans. If you miss payments, you get a strike, three strikes, and you’re out.

Not only is there a complex economy to manage and an empire to build, but there is also just a lot of really weird stuff! Hidden across the world are apples. These apples are a source of apple magic and will allow you to open locked chests hidden around. There is also an Apple Labyrinth you can progress through to get spells and other treats depending on how many apples you have collected. Want to fast travel to areas? Then, you must uncover the secret of the horse dimension, a psychedelic nightmare scape filled with horses and shortcuts to different areas. This is just a sampling of the bizarre delights on offer in the world of Final Profit. It’s a fun experience that has a surprising amount of depth, and the writing is fantastic.

Final Profit: A Shop RPG is available now on Steam. 

Harvest Hunt

Harvest Hunt tool up
Image Credit: Villainous Games Studio.

I played the demo for this roguelike survival horror game from Villainous Games Studio a few months back, but now the full experience is here—time to run around screaming while a big sludgy fella tries to eat me again.

A curse has been passed down through generations, starting when a plague took hold of the lands. A group of survivors fled to the promised land of Luna Nova, thinking they would be safe. The only sustenance for these people who thrive is Ambrosia, a crop that looks like a load of moldy grapes. To survive, the Ambrosia must be harvested, but a monster known as The Devourer hunts in the fields, tainting the crop and attacking the harvesters. That’s why, with each harvest season, a Warden is appointed. This Warden will don a mask, head into the fields, and collect the required amount of Ambrosia throughout five nights, which is the required time to be anywhere in a horror game.

Each night, cards are revealed to you. These cards are strengths, fortifications, and whispers. Strengths and fortifications are unlocked as you play the game and will give The Warden a buff or a buff to the surroundings. The cards may dictate that crouching will heal you over time or that structures will appear around the map that you can hide in, causing The Devourer to lose track of you. Each harvest season also means a new Devourer mutation to face. Will it spew toxic clouds at you? Maybe, but it might also damage you if you damage it, which, frankly, is worse.

Harvest Hunt’s Devourer and its Fiends Will Haunt You

Then there’s the case of The Devourer’s Fiends, which are various minions scattered around the fields that will alert the creature to your location. Depending on the luck of the draw, they may also hurt you upon detection, or you may be able to take them out. To take them out, you will need to equip tools around the map before you begin your night. There are three main landmarks on the map. At the beginning of each night, you can select what tools you can find at each location.

However, each tool costs Vigor (HP), so you have to weigh the tool’s advantage over beginning a night with less Vigor. If you’re lucky, you may get a card that will give you several extra tools around the map at no cost. If you are unlucky, you will pull a card that means no Vigor regeneration spots will appear on the map. This makes the choice to employ tools even more critical.

When it comes to actual gameplay, I have to say it is a mixture of fun and supremely frustrating. The cards drawn at the start of each night play a huge role in how you play. Depending on the combination of cards, rounds can be rendered almost unwinnable before you even begin. Yes, it does get easier as you unlock more cards, but earlier runs can be agonizingly frustrating. It also retains the fighting mechanic that the game had in the demo.

Gameplay Can Be A Bit Frustrating

If The Devourer grabs you, you must click the left and right mouse buttons quickly, one after the other, to escape. As someone with arthritis who has good and bad days, I can’t do that for long and found it limited how long I could play the game in a session.

While the gameplay is frustrating at points, I do like it. I have no problem with a challenging game; it just might need some balancing in early runs to stop people from putting it down. I also really like the plot. As you play the game, you unlock more cards and uncover more of the story. The game seems to be taking place in the future, with someone researching the time period and uncovering the story. This is discovered through the documents and information unearthed as each has a memo attached from someone speaking in the present.

Harvest Hunt’s Story is Excellent

The story reminds me of the novel Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge, which was also recently made into a movie. Spoilers for that story are incoming. Every year on Halloween in a small town, there is a ritual where the boys hunt a supernatural being called the October Boy. The boy who catches and kills the creature earns a ticket out of town, a car, money, and a great new life. One teenager discovers that the winner never leaves, and they become the October Boy.

I have yet to uncover the full story of Harvest Hunt but there is a feeling of Dark Harvest about it. Is The Devourer a previous Warden? Maybe. It’s an interesting tale with a great premise that could do with some early game balancing.

Harvest Hunt releases on May 22 on Steam.


Fabledom Cyclops
Image Credit: Grenaa Games.

The long-anticipated fairytale city builder from Grenaa Games has finally come out of early access. With the 1.0 release, it’s time to hop back into a world of knights, princesses, dragons, and an Aardman-inspired aesthetic.

When you begin your new kingdom-building adventure, you can choose where you settle from a map. Each area has different attributes that you can see when you select it. Things like hills, forests, and fishing are all described by density. You can choose your starting point based on what resource you think you will need most initially. I almost always pick a point with dense forests because you need so much wood to get your kingdom started. On top of picking your starting point, you can pick your difficulty mode. As a bonus, an extremely jaunty narrator walks you through the game.

Fabledom Knows To Not Overuse Its Best Features

Right up front, the best thing about the narrator is that they haven’t overused him. There is often a tendency when there’s a comedy narrator or NPC to have them talk non-stop. Not the case here, if you leave the menu idle for too long he will pipe up. He will also make remarks about objectives, events, and encounters, but he isn’t constantly chatting nonsense while you are trying to manage your growing economy.  

You start the game with a small patch of land. As you grow your population and swell your coffers, you can purchase adjacent patches of land to expand to. The price of land will increase the more you expand. Other factors can also influence your expansion. For example, some areas will have resources, some will have wild animals that you can round up and farm, and there are also special events and encounters that you will gain access to after purchasing the land.

Random ruins, people, or quests are available around the map. Many of these can only be encountered after you have purchased the land and set up your first hero headquarters. Once you have a hero, they’re good to investigate things on your land. For example, you can raid ruins for treasures, befriend a massive living tree, and more.

A World of Magical Creatures Awaits You

Once you have advanced enough, you can send messengers to the overworld to investigate new regions and meet other leaders. You can form alliances, make enemies, and court other nobles by interacting with them and sending gifts. Then there are the threats from magical creatures like dragons that you have to fortify your borders against. Adding the fairytale elements to an already well-balanced and interesting city builder ensures Fabledom stands out in a busy genre.

Fabledom is out now on Steam.

For more indie game coverage, check out our weekly round-up of new indie game releases

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Written by Emma Oakman

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