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Hammerwatch 2 is the Mighty Max pixelated mini-RPG that I need right now

I'm role playing being a tired person

Moseying into the pixelated town at night in Hammerwatch 2
Image credit: Modus Games / Rock Paper Shotgun

I have, for the past several weeks, been playing Baldur's Gate 3, the RPG equivalent of paying for ex-special forces lads to kidnap you at an unappointed day when you're walking your labradoodle, and put you through a rigorous (pretend) interrogation schedule. Will you learn something? Will it occupy your waking thoughts until it's over? Is the commitment of everyone involved assured? Yes. But would describe the experience as restful? Extremely debatable.

Hammerwatch 2 is out today, and it's kind of an isometric RPG that you can play in multiplayer, and which is at base kind of hacky-and-slashy, but has stacking complexity the more you play. It's like paying for ex-special forces lads to read a choose your own adventure book to you, but they get really into doing the voices. I feel comfortable describing the pixel art as "adorable", and it makes everything seem like it's a cute little miniature you can hold in your hand. Hence Mighty Max, which was a key part of my childhood. I don't want to say that Hammerwatch 2 is easy, because that isn't quite right and there's some jank lurking in there. But what it is, is easy to get a handle on. It has also functioned as a way of reintegrating my diseased Faerûined mind back into normal society.

Exploring a dungeon in Hammerwatch 2 - a pirate hideout, which is indeed full of pirates
It also has this really cool sightline thing where you can see through doorways, but anything you can't see is just sort of greyed out. This effect moves with you, and it's good. | Image credit: Modus Games / Rock Paper Shotgun

The starting premise is that you have already slain a giant evil red dragon, as part of a group effort to get King Roland back on the throne (this may relate to Hammerwatch the first; I did not play that). I found this immediately endearing. You escape a dungeon and can walk around the castle that you just destroyed, and look at the red dragon's tail sticking from under the rubble. It's basically the start of The Wizard Of Oz. This premise is something you can adjust if you have the wit or will, as full mod support and level editing is part and parcel of Hammerwatch 2. As alluded to, though, my will is currently only running at around a liquid 62%, so I went with the default.

As with BG3, I went with a ranger. You can fire arrows at a rate governed only by how much stamina you have and how fast you click, with a melee attack mapped to your other mouse button, and spells to equip to a hot key (Q). I have, truth be told, struggled mightily with the inventory, and how to equip and/or eat an apple, or refill my health potion, but so far that hasn't been much of a barrier because health regenerates, so if things get a bit hot vis. fighting dozens of bats and green beetles projectile vomming at you, you can run away and hide in the corner for a bit. If you die, you can just pay a little bit of gold to respawn.

Those are the two sides of it, really. You might die, but it's easy to get around that. There are villagers to give you quests, but they're a mix of "kill a bunch of wolves" and "follow this childishly scrawled yet very specific map to find a mural I drew". Killing pirates is fairly simple, but there are a lot of them, and they have cannons, but also you can explode this barrel and kill a load of them at once. There's also a guy in a cave who wants you to collect pirate memorabilia. The fuck's that about?

You have to keep your wits about you, but also who cares if you don't? This game looks nice and has given you some interesting stuff - like dropping you into an adventure that you've sort of already done, and a clearly D&D-inspired ranger spell that makes the ground all thorny. I don't know, but suspect, that Hammerwatch will be as complex as you feel like making it, even more so if you team up with someone who is playing a wizard and someone else playing a fighter, and all that stuff you're supposed to. Right now, I feel like making it the "fire arrows until thing fall over" game, which is perfect.

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