There was a time when game developers didn’t even dream of independence. Stuck with publishers, the studios depended on the money provided by the giants to bring their projects to life and thus saw their creativity limited by those who controlled the money.
That’s when what I like to call the Indie Spring came along, which was when — very motivated by digital distribution (and later crowdfunding) — several professionals realized they could let go of the shackles imposed by publishers and bring to life the craziest ideas that possessed.
This change in posture caused several genres that had been forgotten to return and many interesting games could be created. Among them, the last one to catch my attention goes by the name Stone Story RPG. With its development starting back in 2014, the game recently came to Steam as Early Access and in this post I would like to explain why I’m in love with it.
In the game we will have as objective to assume the role of an unnamed hero, who wakes up in an unknown land and who will need to find out what is happening there. With no weapons or greater abilities, it’s up to the player to decide how and where to proceed, in a process of trial and error that could be daunting, but it works very well.
The most interesting (and controversial) point of Stone Story RPG gameplay is the fact that we are not totally in control of the protagonist, since during the stages he moves alone and we can only choose the items he will carry. For example, if you want the character to cut down a tree, just give him an axe. If you want him to break piles of rock, put a shovel in his hand. And so on.
Although it looks and in fact is quite simple, this mechanic manages to bring an air of novelty to the RPG genre and as we need to constantly choose items, the game never becomes just one big animation where we don’t participate in the actions.
It’s true that exchanging items could be made easier, giving us the possibility to leave some of them in a quick access bar and streamlining actions. If such a shortcut existed we wouldn’t have to enter the inventory at all times, which breaks the game’s dynamics and over time it even becomes boring.
So that you can understand better, below I leave a video that I recorded with the first 45 minutes of Stone Story RPG. Check out!
However, what might alienate some people is precisely what I consider the apex of Stone Story RPG, its artistic direction. Completely made in ASCII style (acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange), the impression is that we are seeing a game made for computers from the late 70s or early 80s, without any image being shown.
This means that every object in the game, every part of the scenery or even the characters are made only with characters and if something like that already looks fascinating in still images, wait to see the Stone Story RPG in motion. From clouds in the sky to water in a river, passing by the monsters we encountered along the way or in the blows made by the protagonist, everything in the game is shown in a very natural way, even though it is only done by a bunch of letters and symbols.
Add to that a really cool soundtrack, which harks back to the early days of games and can thrill you when you need it, and here we have a game far above average, even though it’s still in development and in need of more content.
Therefore, Stone Story RPG is a clear example of how gamers should be grateful that the game industry has opened up to independent developers. Or are you going to tell me that you believe something with these features could have been released for a Super Nintendo, a SEGA Saturn, or a PlayStation 2?