What’s full of rippling muscles, rockin’ tunes, and radical real-time RPG combat? If you guessed Deathbulge: Battle of the Bands, then you’d be correct! If you guessed anything else, then let these words convince you of the ridiculous righteousness that is Deathbulge.
Originally a webcomic by Dan Martin, Deathbulge is an RPG currently on Kickstarter and absolutely worth every digital penny. They currently have a demo available for download, which gives you a comprehensive overview of what to expect from the final game.
Deathbulge offers quick and snappy RPG combat in a wonderfully weird package. You follow Faye, a rockin’ guitarist who finds herself accidentally signed up in a Battle of the Bands competition. To the death. Oops. After meeting up with her muscular skeleton bassist friend, Ian, the pair journeys through the Tonewood and its vast collection of trunk hunks. Together, they take on threats to the forest with the POWER OF MUSIC.
Combat in Deathbulge straddles a satisfying line between strategy and action, a tricky thing to pull off in RPGs. It functions similarly to Final Fantasy’s Active Time Battle System, where turns take place after a given amount of time. In Deathbulge, the time tracker not only dictates the flow of combat, it is a part of combat.
These time trackers take the form of bars, split into four sections. Aside from standard offensive and defensive skills, many abilities directly manipulate the bars (both your own and your opponents’). You can fortify and weaken bars, fill them with fire, make them move your tracker quicker, etc. Add in the fact that you can only ever control one character in your party at a time and combat quickly becomes a fun and frantic battle of the bands.
While the gameplay is a breath of fresh air for turn-based RPGs, Deathbulge’s flippant sense of humor is easily its strongest point. It’s fantastically quirky in a way that’s natural and sincerely hilarious. The game’s visual style mixes well with this offbeat non-sequitur style of comedy. Deathbulge has clever wordplay and dumb puns in equal measure.
Not unlike Naked Gun or Police Academy, Deathbulge’s sense of humor is so genuine with its stupidity that it forces a laugh out of you despite your better judgment. Glistening, rippling muscled snails and trees make for utterly ridiculous imagery but there’s just something so undeniably hilarious about the way it’s presented.
Deathbulge‘s half-hour demo captures a traditional RPG feel while innovating on the core turn-based combat system. Add to that a weird sense of humor and colorful aesthetic, and you’ve got a surefire recipe for a fantastic game.