Who doesn’t love a game with a bit of atmosphere? Daedelus (pronounced “daddies”) is an indie horror title for the originalthereof — and it has it in spades. The game has been available for a while as a name-your-own-price download, but it’s about to get a physical release on a suitably jet-black cartridge, pre-orders for which . If you’re a fan of retro games or the genre, you should , and if you have the requisite hardware, it should fit right into any great collection.
and play style. has dark undertones and is all the more delightful for it. The contrast between the ’90s era Nintendo trees and picket fences with the themes of cult, ritual, and murder couldn’t be starker, yet it feels entirely appropriate. You wouldn’t know it by playing it, but most of the game was made by one person and is an excellent showcase for Chris Maltby’s .
As most good horror stories do, Deadeus starts with a nightmare. At night, an angry god comes to our protagonist with a hunger for flesh. Satiate that hunger, and he might spare the village, but there’s a catch — you only have threeto figure out how, and with 11 endings on offer, every decision matters.
“The idea for the game came mostly from a comic I’ve been writing forever; I had this small piece I could call a story and put into this Game Boy game. […] it’s all drawn from that; all the art is my own and based on that story.” Adam Birch, Deadeus’ creator, told Engadget.
that Birch is an artist by trade. He works in UI design for UK Coatsink and does his own suitably macabre designs on the side. One scan of his is all you need to know that any game he made was always going to have dark touches — the cutscenes, in particular, pull you out of the cozy RPG vibe and into the putrid underbelly of whatever weirdness is going on in this godforsaken town you inhabit.
That town is where you’ll spend all of your time. That’s to say, this isn’t a sprawling landscape with warp stations and rival villages. You can navigate the playing area quickly, but it doesn’t. Deadeus’ time mechanic means that brings new things to find and discover and neatly adds a layer of strategy depending on which narrative you follow. There are no spoilers here, but you can miss something on the first day that will stop you from finding some of those 11 endings.
Birch admits that while the time mechanic allows the relatively small world to, it also introduces some challenges. GB much more straightforward, with almost no code. Still, a project like Deadeus also presents the potential for many bugs — characters appearing on day two that shouldn’t be there anymore, for example. Of course, these were all ironed out but they added some unexpected challenges.
Of course, there are far more significant limitations when making something for a decades-old platform, especially if art is your thing. “With a Game Boy screen, there’s a limit to the unique eight-by-eight tiles you can place on the screen. You can’t just draw a full image, whatever you want. So it was almost like a puzzle piecing it all together,” Birch added. Below, you can see how some of his designs had to be crunched to.
Birch’s decision to use GB Studio. A few publishers had contacted him about producing cartridge versions of Daedelus, but it was Spacebot that he ultimately went with. The team had something of a name with Dragonborn and an RPG with GB Studio.
But why go to the effort of releasing a game on a cartridge that requires? Especially if that same for free? “I just wanted to put the thing I made out there for people to play and with the smallest barrier to entry. So that is free.” Birch said. “I wanted anyone to be able to play it, and that was kind of important to me.” But a physical release was , “it was one of the things that’s kind of always on my mind; I just didn’t know how it would happen.” Spacebot was the answer.
development, particularly in the retro realm, is easily seen as odd. But its appeal is also easy to explain. The limitations of the for individuals and small teams to work with. Plus, the catalog of titles to draw inspiration from is vast and varied. And, of course, there’s the seductive lure of nostalgia — even decades later, seeing a Game Boy (or modern physical emulation hardware) still feels magical.
Back in our nightmare-infused village, things soon start to get weird. Townsfolk begin hinting that this isn’t the firstan angry deity has threatened the town. People close to you confide that strange things have been happening, and they, too, have been having the same nightmare. As with the genre, inconsequential statements often hide vital clues. Sometimes, though, they are just insignificant statements. The fun is divining which is which.
Don’t expect endless hours of playtime, though. Even with 11 endings to discover, you canstop in less than two hours. By this time, you should have enough clues to go . But you will enjoy doing so, and at least one storyline is sophisticated enough to have you thinking about . This one, in particular, I have yet to complete.
For Birch’s part, helike a bit of an outsider on the whole indie game-developer thing but is already working on his follow-up title, which sounds even more elaborate. “Probably my favorite Game Boy game is Land 2. And that’s like, kind of the biggest inspiration [for it],” But of course, Birch wants to add his cadaverous touches to it. “So what if we did that but, a lot darker and kind of a lot more story-based?” Super Mario Land 2 with Metroidvania aspects and globs of moody atmosphere? Sign me up.