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This Haunted Game is Brutal, Mysterious, Challenging and Fun

  • unity
  • 11/23/2016 03:19 PM
Welcome to... Polixiuhs!

This image doesn't do justice to the animated, in-game version. Check it out, it's cool!

In this game, you are imprisoned in the Cathedral of Polixiuhs and the connected dungeons and tunnels, forced to find the mysterious artifact known as the Cornucopia, watched by a mysterious sinister entity who would see you trapped here forever.

The game has a lovely old-school style (FF1 tiles and all) and very much feels like you're playing on an old arcade cabinet. That, coupled with the name, brings back memories of an old urban legend of a similar named game. The intro and title screen and many other parts of the game pull off this glitchy/cursed feeling very well, and you can tell a decent amount of work went in to achieving this.

The game seems pretty simple on the surface. You must find the Cornucopia, but all you have is a very limited torch. You have to collect coins in the various dungeons connected to the cathedral and avoid enemy sprites, which has a somewhat "Pac-Man" like groove to it. But don't expect to gobble-up enemies. Touching one will initiate an encounter where a 20-sided die is rolled. This die roll, plus your weapon power (which starts at zero, by the way), must exceed the enemy's number or you die. If you win, then you are able to escape. That's right, escape is the best option.

If you die three times, then its game-over for you. Saving is initially locked as well, giving the game a desperate, almost unfair vibe that actually fits the tone of the game quite well, and makes for a tense playing experience.

However, without spoiling too much, that's certainly not all that's going on in this game, and beneath the surface is a treasure-trove of extra gameplay features that, once uncovered, slowly turn the tables for you and allow you to beat this seemingly unbeatable game.

Collect coins to buy new weapons and extra lives! They are expensive, though!

Secret codices can be found (hint: the first step is to get to your standard RPG Maker 2000 item menu) that give you special abilities. Unlocking the ability to save, which seems like a standard, becomes an awesome reward when you find it, and the other codex powers are cool, too!

Back to the enemies and the battles. Generally, I'd find a random number element to be a detriment (the random number element being, of course, the roll of the dice to survive enemy encounters) but given that its a possible way out of a punishment (running into enemies should be avoided at all costs in this game) it works and adds to the tension.

You just better hope random chance is on your side!

And the enemies themselves follow a particular pattern, and once you know this and know how to hide and wait around intersections, death becomes a lot easier to avoid. I still felt very apprehensive because I worried that I'd blink and then there'd be a monster before me.

You can find labyrinth maps which aren't what you'd typically expect from a proper map, but they let you know if there are any items in the general area. These are still very useful, because if you've gotten all the items from an area they won't show anything, which saves a lot of needless wandering around.

You have to really explore all the areas in some detail to find the way to the last (well, actually second-to-last) codex, and it felt very rewarding to find it. The biggest question I had was "Well, what do I use this one on?" This is the game's biggest brain-teaser and you may need to replay the intro to get a hint of what to do.

Games like this often run the risk of feeling like an unfair, brutal slog. This game had the power to make you feel like that and feel oppressed, but, if you peel back the layers, you see the truth, and the most frustrating parts were lessened enough that continuing was possible and not too maddening. Wanting to see each layer peeled back and to find each codex is what drove me and kept me invested in the game!

All in all, this is a wonderful game. It asks a lot of the player, but patience and curiosity are rewarded, and I very much enjoyed the experience!


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Thank you for the review!

And yes as you mentioned before I expected most people to not finish this game (I know of three so far) but hopefully the experience is positive even if you don't and further rewarded if you do.
You're magical to me.
You're very welcome! ^_^

I do hope more people check out the game. Even if they don't beat it, I think they'll enjoy the tense, creepy atmosphere you've created. And if they do find their way all the way to the end, even better! :D
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