You're about to watch some humans go about their business as they get followed around by adorable tiny animals, occasionally stopping to pet them or dance with them. Don't be fooled. Those animals are out for blood - or at the very least indentured interior design work. That's the subtext I'm picking up: Ooblets is an upcoming game that's ostensibly about farming crops and looking after 'lil Pokemon-like creatures. As developers Glumberland revealed in their E3 trailer, it's now also about helping those creatures resolve their disputes through the medium of dance rather than body slams. Supposedly.
That opening looks like a harmless dance off, right? Wrong. Those ooblets are actually engaged in a high-stakes battle of total mental domination, each employing a combination of hypnotism and pheromones to subvert the other to their will. That's also how they control their human underlings, after dispatching balloon drones to capture and deliver them to their hellscape of an island. The trailer actually gives you a few glimpses of humans managing to break out of their stupor, who are then hunted down by packs so they can be carolled into gardening and interior decorating. The humans may get to dance, but they don't get to feel.
As the devs explain in a blog post, they've ditched the old system that involved "dogfighting your adorable friends" and replaced it with these so-called dance offs. "Wild ooblets and other characters will want to prove their dance skills against your ooblet team", they say. "Agree to a call out and the music starts pumpin and a crowd starts forming to watch."
Dance battles are resolved using a system that's an analogue for actual battles, with HP, critical hits and all that jazz. You can teach your ooblets new dance moves as they gain experience, which "either show off to your opponents, fluster them, or hype up your own team".
Why the swap? "People can suspend their disbelief a bit and be okay with their creatures fighting, but the idea that you’re throwing your tiny friends into the equivalent of dogfights doesn’t really fit the tone of Ooblets where everything is cute and friendly."
Yeah right. I'm onto you, Ooblets.
Glumberland say the release is still "a ways off", but feel free to wishlist Ooblets on Steam.
Check out our E3 2018 tag for more announcements, trailers, news, and goodness knows what else.