Developed by tiny outfit Chumbosoft, Heartbeat is a cute JRPG that looks bit Pokémon, but has a lot of Shin Megami Tensei spirit to it, giving it a slightly more 'grown-up' edge. It's set in a high-tech but magical world where humans live alongside cute (and sometimes not-so-cute) talking magical monsters called Mogwai. Eve, a young Conjurer and her cat-Mogwai friend Klein set out on an errand that - as per genre standards - quickly spirals into something larger. Heartbeat is out today for $10, and its free demo's saves carry over to the full game. Check the trailer below.
Heartbeat is packed to the gills with charm, especially the chunky conversation and combat sprites. Its characters are a lovable bunch too, though just mature enough to not be cloying. Heroine Eve isn't some trainer off to earn her badges, but a 20-something with a retail job. Even the Mogwai are treated like adults (for the most part), even if the tone seems mostly Saturday morning cartoon material. It feels like Pokémon for people who grew up playing Pokémon (or, arguably, Digimon), and want a little bit more to its world and story than 'catch critters, collect shinies'.
Heartbeat's combat mechanics are quite deep once you're rolling with a party, although it shouldn't feel too alien to anyone who's played an old-school JRPG before. There's even a mouse interface, making it more comfortable for those without a gamepad. One nice feature is that each party member has an ability to be used in the overworld. Klein, for example, can fit through tiny doors the rest of the party can't. She can also talk to regular, non-magical cats, although we only get to hear half of the conversation. Every friend made opens new doors - there's a lesson there.
Chumbosoft say Heartbeat will be coming to Steam within a couple weeks, but for now you can find it on Itch, along with an hours-long demo. The full game costs $10, and comes with instructions for transferring over your demo save files.