In the realm of independent games, Dear Villagers is often there to offer little gems. This was once again the case during this Gamescom 2023, with two nice surprises: Born of Bread and Terra Memoria
Born of Bread puts us in the shoes of a bread man. Created by Papa Baker following an accident, we find ourselves unwillingly embroiled in a conflict between the queen of the kingdom and an ancient demon who escaped from his prison.
From the start of the demo, we fell in love with the artistic direction of the title. Very colorful, the world around us is also rich in decorations. Born of Bread offers the superposition of 2D elements in a 3D world, for a result of the most beautiful effect. Note that the soundtrack present for our session was relaxing and accompanied the action wonderfully, while the game seems to be full of humor.
This 2D/3D mix is reminiscent of a license embodied by the famous mustachioed plumber, namely Paper Mario. The comparison does not stop there, since the fights are also strongly inspired by the Nintendo saga. These take place on a turn-based basis with the possibility of fighting in pairs alongside companions encountered during the adventure.
During combat, it is possible to parry by pressing the A button at the right time and thus reduce the damage suffered. However, each type of opponent has its own attack with, by extension, different timing for parrying. During our turn, we must choose between attacking, defending ourselves or using an object. To launch an attack, you must first have enough action points, the cost of which differs depending on the weapon used. To recover this precious resource, you must use the defense action or an item from the bag. Positive point, each weapon requires a mini-game during its use and will reward the player with additional damage, if successful. A variety that offers even more fun in clashes, but also reinforces the desire to find new weapons.
Without requiring you to tie your brain in knots, Born of Bread still offers us a dose of strategy and reflection sufficient to have fun during the fights, it is totally validated for us.
Finally, between clashes, you move freely in small closed areas where you have to solve a few quick environmental puzzles or platform phases. We can head straight towards the objective, but the exploration is not stingy since we were able to unearth some treasures around certain bushes.
Terra Memoria is an adventure game described as “cozy” by the project teams. We play a rhino mage, in a world populated by anthropomorphic animals. Although it’s too early to judge the quality of the storytelling, what we saw left us fully satisfied.
The developers have chosen to go with visuals that straddle pixel art and realism, for a result that is very pleasing to the eye, with a lot of care given to the details of the decor. This artistic direction is embellished by calm melodies reinforcing this famous “cozy” side of the title.
From what we saw during our exploration of the available areas, Terra Memoria seems to be full of side quests. They are not marked on the map and are only unlocked in our journal after hearing a conversation, or chatting with an NPC. This gives real interest to the exploration, reinforcing an already qualitative writing.
However, the biggest surprise the title gave us concerns its combat system. We start with a turn-based system to which is added a timeline concept. Represented in the form of a bar divided into boxes, it is at the center of the gameplay during combat.
Each character, ally or enemy, is positioned on the boxes of this timeline. This position corresponds to the order in which each fighter will play. Attacks all have different costs. Thus, a powerful attack will have a much higher cost and will position the character far in the timeline, at the end of their turn. Small subtlety: if the box is already occupied, we will go to the next box.
Added to this, enemies have weaknesses and a shield. For each attack launched, the shield’s health points will be reduced by 1 and 2 in case of weakness (in addition to doing more damage). Once the shield is destroyed, the opponent becomes weak to all types of attacks and is also sent to last position on the timeline.
If the game is relatively calm and without too much difficulty (our characters are automatically healed after each fight), these confrontations still bring a very appreciable touch of strategy. You have to carefully calculate the cost of your attacks while trying to break the enemies’ shield to send them back to the end of the timeline and prevent them from attacking.
With these two proposals, Dear Villagers offers us two games that are both similar in their construction (exploration and turn-based combat), but also very different. However, whether it’s Born of Bread or Terra Memoria, the conclusion remains the same: we can’t wait to discover them in more detail. Unfortunately, you will have to be patient, no release date has yet been set for these two titles. Terra Memoria and Born of Bread are both coming to Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and PC.