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May's RPS Game Club pick is... Deathbulge: Battle Of The Bands

Get in losers, we're going music-ing

Faye in a merch store in Deathbulge: Battle Of The Bands. The front door has been kicked in and displaced a shop mannequin.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Deathbulge

According to our schedule, my pick Deathbulge: Battle Of The Bands isn't supposed to be up in the RPS Game Club until June. So why am I here telling you about it? Ollie couldn't do Sid Meier's Pirates! last month 'cos he was sick, and this month he's moving house or some other ridiculous made up thing that grown adults can no longer afford to do, so Deathbulge is stepping up to the plate. And it is kicking that plate into the outer atmosphere and playing a sick guitar riff. If you want to join in you can find Deathbulge on Steam.

Deathbulge is a hella cool RPG based on a webcomic. Three friends (representing bass, guitar and drums) enter a battle of the bands competition and find out too late that it is in fact a cursed competition and entrants can - and indeed should - kill each other for realsies. It's also very funny.

There's a lot more complexity to the combat than I thought there was when I first fired up Deathbulge. You can change your team members' roles (defense, tank, attack) by swapping out what kind of music they play, so punk is more aggro, for example, and this also changes what the character looks like. Big Final Fantasy X-2 vibes. The combat is turn based, but based on the speed that characters move along the fretboard at the bottom of the screen. You can buff your own board to make your characters move faster or have better defense, and debuff the enemy to move slower or have damage over time effects. But they can debuff you too! I had a really tough fight against a duck DJ inside the hair of a wood god.

This wood is called the Tone Wood, and all the trees have six pack torsos. The first boss fight in the game is in this wood, against a hench snail with a second phase where its shell uncurls to reveal another fist. It's just funny, man, and the early side mission where you go between two dudes' houses discussing cheese (because one of them doesn't want to have "two active cheeses" remains one of the most indosyncratic and yet relatable moments in a video game that I have yet experienced.

All this to say that I think it's a worthwhile little gem and more people should play it. I meant to write about it more last year, but ran out of time, so I am forcing my peers to play it and write about it now. And you, too, can play along! As I said, it's on Steam for £15/€19/$20, and we'll reconvene and have a chat about it on Friday May 31st at 4PM BST. Be there or be square!

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