Don't be put off by the cute facade that Jimmy And The Pulsating Mass wears. While this dreamlike RPG feels like its primary inspirations are from the Earthbound and Undertale sphere of family-friendly (though occasionally dark) RPGs, it's not long before the mask slips. While the developer cites Yume Nikki as a core influence, I can't help but feel that this one has a bit of Space Funeral's blood-splattered weirdness to it. Jimmy And The Pulsating Mass is out today. Check out the increasingly sinister trailer below, and an hours-long demo here.
Set inside the dreams of an eight-year-old boy named Jimmy, pretty much anything goes in Jimmy And The Pulsating Mass. Described as both a comedy and horror experience by its solo developer, Kasey Ozymy, it's an interesting and unpredictable blend of tones. It's childish, because of course the dreams of an child would be, but there's some more adult humour in there, mostly hinging on Jimmy's misunderstandings. Then there's the occasional hard swing into unsettling territory, seldom telegraphed and sometimes left uncommented on, somehow making it creepier.
While Jimmy And The Pulsating Mass's turn-based combat engine is mostly inspired by Earthbound (right down to the similar music and trippy backdrops), there's a little bit of Shin Megami Tensei in here. After defeating certain bosses, Jimmy will stop to think about how it must feel to be them. By using his empathy and imagination, he can transform himself into that creature - this is a dream, after all. On the overworld, this gives you new ways to interact with the world in Yume Nikki fashion, while in combat it acts as a whole new freely switchable character class.
While there are random encounters, once you're sufficiently high-level to breeze through a fight, you'll be given the option (hinted at with a green exclamation mark before the fight begins, instead of red) to hit a button and just ignore that monster entirely. Or you can transform into a slime - the most hated of all RPG monsters - and use your powers of punchability to force creatures into attacking you. After playing the demo, it's hard to shake the feeling that Jimmy might be a little TOO understanding of horrible monsters, and that this story may get a lot darker by the end.