As I prepared to rest my weary head last night, I peered inside my mailbox to check for the latest issue of the superlative Moustache Fancier Periodical. It was not to be. Rather than being greeted by a booklet of handsome lip furniture, I found myself confronted with several messages about Our Darker Purpose, the Kickstarter project that reminds me of The Binding of Isaac, set in a grimly humorous orphanage/school in which monsters are devouring the pupils, and the pupils are on the verge of devouring one another. Avidly Wild Games have almost reached their target but there are only a few hours to go. I downloaded the demo to see if it lived up to the excellent writing that graces the project page.
You can try the demo yourself by clicking here, remembering as you play that it represents an early version of the game. That said, it's solid and successfully demonstrates that the team have indeed learned and borrowed from Isaac and its own inspirations, but also shows the game's more unique qualities.
The Gorey art style is cute and sinister, although not at all gory, and transfers well from static images to the game itself. Creatures, objects and obstacles appear to be handcrafted, which can cause them to appear superimposed onto the background at first, making movement feel a little disjointed, but it's a feeling that I quickly shook off. The player character's ability to roll, which is a dodge and sprint in one, allows for more unpredictable and faster enemies, sometimes bouncing around enclosed spaces. In the long term, particularly in combination with the variable room sizes, that should allow for more varied approaches to combat as the game plays out.
Perhaps the most appealing feature, as I suspected it would be, is the writing. Whether it's a one line description of an upgrade or one of several conversations between the school's sentient desks, Our Darker Purpose is packed with appealing turns of phrase. There are plenty of things to discover as well, with loot drops from tougher, unique enemies, vending machines and even an overarching upgrade system in the form of lessons learned on a timetable.
It's a supremely satisfying slice of game. In need of more attention - that's what the Kickstarter is for - but demonstrating the scope and the mechanics admirably. I suspect that it'll reach its target this morning but if you have been on the fence, or would simply like a demo to while away an hour of the day, do take a look.