As E3 coverage is all winding down, it’s a chance to get back to the schedule of normality, and I’ve now been able to get the chance to return to To The Green by cowriting it with Alex Santa Maria. We’ll be alternating weeks and focusing on different things at times, but we both pay a lot of attention to indie games, and Alex does our excellent Screenshot Survey each week where he looks at some of the coolest #ScreenshotSaturday stuff.
I thought for this week I’d go and look at a game that I recently had an interview with the developer and might have gotten lost in all the E3 hoopla - Walkerman. Walkerman is a visual novel / adventure game mixture, like those in the Pheonix Wright series. Unlike those though, in Walkerman you’re playing a young man who is leaving home for the first time to go to the first city to become one of the eponymous Walkerman who battle monsters in the night.
Of course, generally speaking battle is not quite the right word for what the Walkerman do; instead, they rely on intelligence, gathering information and exploiting the rules of monsters. Those rules harkin in many ways to the old fairy tales where monsters often had weird or bizarre weaknesses that make limited to no sense. Walkerman fight the monsters by exploiting those, and in the demo, Jorgen, the protagonist, participates in a mock battle with his father who invented the rules his monster had to play by.
Each of the different acts will include one major monster battle that will be a more complex version of the above—some simple movement and inventory based puzzle solving. There are different properties to learn about items to then use on monsters—such as a bone being a bone, burned, bird bone, and an unknown type of bird.
That is only part of the gameplay though and used primarily in climactic set pieces. The other part of the game is the visual novel parts where you play as Jorgen trying to survive in the big city for the first time. You are an outsider to the usual cast system and don’t have a provider or the type of funds one might need outside of that, so you have to scrape by and find out other ways to earn money.
The need to get that money is a driving part of the plot, as Jorgen would rather not sleep on the streets and ties in with many of the different choices and characters you can meet. There are two primary different branching story paths, with each having several sub branches that alter how the narrative plays out, while the big branches are more changes on a plot level as well. The types of challenges you’ll face will alter based on those choices as well.
If you’ve played or seen a visual novel, the way the game selects and does its visual novel bits will seem pretty normal. Walkerman is using the Ren’Py engine, which is designed for Visual Novels with the developer having coded in the inventory and puzzle parts on top of that. I’d share a clip of it, but it's probably something best read through in the playable demo yourself, which goes about 15-20 minutes and gives a bit of a feel for the game, the tutorial and some mysteries.
Walkerman is being made by Scalemail Studios with some help by Sekai Project. They are on Greenlight right now and are also running a Kickstarter where they have 9 days left and are halfway to the $9000 goal they have to get art assets produced.
Do you know a game in Greenlight that you think we should cover? Have one yourself? Email us at [email protected] and we'll take a look!