PEGBRJE: ‘Silk’ and ‘Death? Preposterous!’
Silk is a massive trading RPG created by Huey Games, an indie team based out of England who brought us Hyper Sentinel way back on page 12. This time, instead of shooting and saving the world, players are transported back in time to the Roman Empire. It is here that the Silk Road began to take its form. It is here where players will attempt to make a killing as merchants travelling along it.
Inspired by the revolutionary RPG Daggerfall, Silk puts players in a first person view as they attempt to navigate the massive ancient world to get from Rome to the East. Players will start their journey selecting their difficulty and their hero from a selection of advisors. Who the player is and what they do is core to Silk’s world, as the starting class will determine the style in which players wish to play. The easiest route — and the one I took — was the route of a merchant attempting to make the way to China. The other routes can involve attempting to overthrow the Parthian Empire, raiding other caravans on the Silk Road, or even building a trade empire on the road itself.
The advisors are picked next from a random group of four from the same pool that the hero was picked. Each advisor is skilled in different fields, be it trade, military, wayfaring, animal handling, or rituals. These skills are imperative to surviving the journey. The more skilled individuals will be able to give better advice on the course of action to take. The advisors are also how players make decisions. Any time a choice appears, the four that are most related to the issue will give their thoughts on the matter. Selecting one of them will give them XP and increase their abilities in that subject matter, making them more effective on the road ahead.
Once the preparations are finished, players will load in to a caravanserai outside of Antioch, the chief city of the Eastern Roman Empire at the time. From there, players will begin their journey eastward, with only their intuition and supplies to rely on. The goal is driven by the player’s difficulty, highlighted by the hero’s quests to help them level up.
Thing is, while this is all helpful, Silk is true to its word as a massive open world RPG. It creates a near 1-to-1 scale of the real world and players can do anything within it. The cardinal directions are not listed unless the player checks their inventory, and the map only gives landmarks in the shape of coloured markingstoo identify what may be nearby or what is coming up next. Citadels and other landmarks all have their own agenda, and their own pricing for certain goods depending on its scarcity. Soldiers can be hired to build an army for pillaging anything one wishes, or camels can be bought to increase the capacity for trade. Temples can be visited to make offerings and keep moral up, or blasphemed with an improper sacrifice.
The world is your oyster, and the only thing stopping you is the sheer volume of content that is available. The world is massive, and while the tile-based RPG might feel a bit weird for those unfamiliar with the older style, it works to highlight the pace in which it would normally take to travel the Silk Road. If you adored Daggerfall and other RPGs, but wanted a bit more of a ‘passive’ twist (combat is streamlined) that focuses more on economics and management, this is a perfect game to dive in to.
Note: do be aware that the itch.io version is 1.5, whereas the current Steam version is 1.6. If you enjoy this version, then the Steam version’s updates might appeal to you more.
Death? Preposterous! is a non-violent RPG created by Jonathan Hawkins, an indie dev and spiritualist. Players will initially follow the protagonist Darling, who has recently moved to a new island following his wife Madeline. Unfortunately things take a turn for the worst following a note discovered on his first day on the island. That begins a series of events that will have him investigating the island and hopefully saving his wife.
Taking influences from other narrative RPGs like Undertale, players will explore the island and get to know the locals while finding out more about this mysterious new mansion owner and their newly constructed fence. Their journeys will have them trying to solve puzzles that are hidden in plain sight, using the ‘curiousities’ found to unlock the next area or assist another person.
Encounters in the wild appear at first to be like JRPG combat encounters, but are spoofs instead. Actions are lighthearted, such as petting a bunny or talking to a random animal. The point is that nothing needs to be solved with violence in any way, shape or form, instead requiring players to talk out their problems with others.
It’s hard to talk about ‘Death? Preposterous!’ without discussing its overarching themes, which are spoilers so do be aware.
The game is centred on the spiritual aspect of death and how it truly does not really ‘matter’. Darling dies in an awful way, but is how we are introduced to the spiritual manifestation of ‘God’ at a crossroads between this life and the next. It is here that the player’s divergence of plot begins. Every death will bring the player to this spirit realm to discuss the realities of the spirit and the soul with those who have passed.
Curiousity has given Darling a way to return in the hopes of stopping the mansion’s new owner Malignaunsse from his strange aggression towards the townsfolk. The more Darling explores, the more he gains an appreciation for specific acquaintances to the point that they can become friends. This also lets players unlock the ability to follow those specific individuals and their struggles, leading to a variety of endings depending on how players approach situations.
Thing is, every death also causes time to move forwards, so events and individuals will move forward towards their own goals. Being cautious but hopeful is the best way. Do note that the themes surrounding this game — the afterlife and death — may not be suitable or comfortable for some players. Be cautious if these would affect you in any negative way.
Death? Preposterous! is a soothing game that wishes to defy the ‘status quo’ of what many would expect from an RPG. Nothing requires the player to level up in violent skills in an environment that has quite a lot of hostility towards the protagonists. Instead, they will use the game’s mechanics to fuel the narrative and solve puzzles in the hopes of achieving a happy ending. If you are a fan of Undertale and other RPGs that focus on narrative to the point of being nearly a visual novel, this might be a good game for you.
Enter the biggest handcrafted open world of all time, fifty times larger than Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall! Explore…