The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Playing Every Game in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

PEGBRJE: Locomancer and Possession

End of Page 30 with trains and ghosts.

Choo choo.

Locomancer is a VR sandbox simulator crafted by Eric Lipschutz, aka Selkcip. Players are transported to a fantasy land in which they are a being strong enough to build infrastructure for trains and people, laying tracks and bending the surface to their will. That is to say, players get to go back in time to the era of their childhood and make train track sets with the power of VR.

Full disclosure:I couldn’t play Locomancer. I lack any form of VR headset, and there isn’t non-VR support — it makes sense given the hands-on nature that the game is focusing on, but it definitely makes it hard to give my thoughts. But I did say this series was an overview of the bundle, not necessarily a review. I did some digging and watched a bunch of other people play it in the hopes of better conveying why you might enjoy this experience.

As this Locomancer, players are able to manipulate the world as they see fit, given a realm that allows them to set the table type, tracks, and train. The table is especially important, for a flat table is not the only kind we are dealing with. There are also cubes, tori (plural of torus, fun fact), spheres and more for players to deem their ‘table’.

Once selected, tracks can be found in a massive storage compartment, labelled for ease of access with bridges, buildings, trains, styles of tracks and more. Grabbing any piece will bring it out of the box and in to the world. Players can drop it anywhere they need to create the locomotive paradise that they are aiming for.

While VR already lets players defy gravitational limitations of their table, it also allows them to do the one thing that many always dreamed of as kids; become part of the locomotive world itself. Players can select the train once on the tracks and drive the actual train, becoming sized to the world itself to go on adventures. It gives that magical sense of wonder as after countless hours making this sandbox an immersive world, players can actively join it. If something goes wrong, they can hop right back out and fix it, or alter the tracks if it is not as fun as they might have thought, and continue onward.

The joy in Locomancer is what players are able to make of their sandbox, crafting the train-centric worlds of their dreams. VR lets you take it once step further, diving in to the world and giving you direct control of it while also making you a part of that world.

My inability to play it makes it hard to fully express that delight, but just watching people spend hours laying tracks and making up their own narratives is enough to invoke the kid in anyone. If you really liked trains and making cities to navigate as a kid, this is your jam.

There be ghosts, and a whole lot more.

Possession is a roguelike ‘dungeon’ crawler created by Weirdfellows, an indie team spearheaded by Taylor Vaughan. As a member of the recently deceased, the player is a ghost who finds themself surrounded by ghouls and goblins and definitely not in an afterlife location. Everything is hostile to the player, but thankfully there is a serious boon in being an incorporeal being; the hint is in the title.

As said ghost, players will navigate Possession as carefully as possible, for a single hit from anything anywhere will kill them…again. It operates in a pseudo-turn-based system, where each move is technically done ‘freely’ while simultaneously having each entity in the level also update their position and behavior. Move a single space, so will that zombie that you just spotted, and so on. This is done to facilitate some of the tactical approaches of the gameplay, so that players aren’t scrambling around to find their next move as the enemies close in.

As a ghost, the protagonist can possess anything. While the ghost is fragile, the enemies are much less so. Each has their own special abilities and passives to take advantage of. Learning which monsters are good for what situations is imperative to going far, just as much as knowing when to bail on a body and find a new one. Thankfully, leaving an enemy doesn’t let them remain to attack back. Instead, leaving them blows them to smithereens, stunning enemies in the vicinity and giving a brief moment to escape or possess someone new.

With this possession mechanic, Possession is able to do away with many of the ‘typical’ roguelike familiarities. There is no need for weapons or healing, for the ghost is not capable of holding anything and cannot assume that the body they currently inhabit will make it to the surface with the stuff. Healing is possible by ‘repairing the body’ of the possessed, but this permanently lowers the max health of the host, meaning that it is more susceptible to being destroyed. The trade-off for more health, as it were.

The possession mechanic is what fuels the roguelike tendencies that players are so familiar with, the common risk vs reward that can make each run of Possession so nail-biting. The farther the player gets, the more complex and difficult the enemies become, but that means the more durable and deadly they are as hosts. Players will constantly make decisions on whether to ditch a certain body for another, until they either escape this strange world and reach the surface, or perish to the hands of that zombie that just had to roll high on one of their attacks.

If you like roguelikes but want less inventory management and more ‘pick up and just go’ style of gameplay, this might be your next obsession. The controls take a bit to understand, but thanks to the ability to use the mouse or keyboard there will be something for everyone.

Page 30 is done ! The software will be up on Monday most likely.

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.