Ian is a buff skellington who likes fishing and music – he can play a mean bass. Yes, you can see the pun coming a mile off, but it still works. Dan Martin’s webcomic turned daft RPG, Deathbulge: Battle Of The Bands is the story of Ian and his pals Faye and Briff. They meander around a very silly world, kicking open doors and battling other bands through a music-themed combat system. It’s currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter with a demo for you to try right now, which you should, as I’ve gotten a few good giggles from it. No knowledge of the comic needed – see a trailer below.
The Deathbulge demo feels a bit like Double Fine’s earlier RPGs like Costume Quest, plus a dash of Brutal Legend and a whimsical sense of humour. This is heavy metal at its silliest, with what little story there is in the demo feeling like an excuse to bounce you from one set of silly jokes and characters to the next. Given that the tutorial ended with a duck (who is so cool that he wears his baseball cap upside down) telling me that I’m “pretty naff”, I’m okay with this. More cheerful nonsense games, where no excuse is needed for a gag beyond ‘it seemed funny at the time’, please.
While I would have loved rhythm-based combat, it’s a bit more of a straightforward Final Fantasy-ish active time dealio, with one clever twist. Attacks and spells can apply properties to parts of either your or your enemy’s time bar. The first half of it might cause fire damage (from a face-melting solo), or you could cast haste on the latter half of yours. It’s nothing too complex or demanding, but there’s some fun ideas and catchy battle themes, and even some chill jams out in the overworld – it’s not all metal, but it is all nice to listen to.
After just one day on Kickstarter, Deathbulge: Battle Of The Bands is nearly halfway funded, with only two possible goals on the horizon – a handful of guest artists first, and some extra combat classes second. With the demo feeling nicely polished, I think this one is a relatively safe bet. $10 gets you a copy of the game when it’s done, hopefully around the middle of next year. The original webcomic is here.