Addlemoth (demo) Contrasted to DROD

When I saw Addlemoth mentioned on Twitter as drawing inspiration from DROD, I had to give it a look. Although unfinished, what’s there is already impressive — not just for capturing what I find appealing about DROD, but for forging its own path. I mean, the only other game I really think of as imitating DROD is Wonderquest (which I should really finish up at some point), and Wonderquest imitates DROD so closely and unquestioningly, in style and mechanics, that it made me doubt you could stray far from the DROD formula and still be noticeably DROD-like. Addlemoth proves that it can be done.

Among the ways Addlemoth deviates from the formula: It ditches the “one big contiguous space” idea; puzzles are entirely self-contained and relatively small. The goal in each puzzle is not to slay all the monsters, but to hit one or more magical crystals. (Which usually involves slaying any monsters that get in your way, but they’re obstacles, not goals.) The default weapon isn’t the equivalent of Beethro’s Really Big Sword (although you can obtain that as a power-up in some levels), but an entirely new one with no precise equivalent even in The Second Sky: you can attack instantly in any direction (without moving), or stand still to parry, which temporarily stuns one attacker. This turns out to be fairly rich puzzle fodder when coupled with enemies that know how to move around obstacles.

One touch I really like: Remember how some DROD puzzles have “Challenge Scrolls” that dare you to complete the room under some voluntary restriction, like “never turn” or “don’t move diagonally” or whatever? EVERY room in Addlemoth has this. The “Conduct” challenge has its own spot in the UI, where it only appears after you’ve beaten the puzzle once. A lot of the DROD challenges were invented after-the-fact by players and only later incorporated into the game, and as a result of being thrust upon rooms not designed for them, they were often punishingly fiddly. And to be fair, Addlemoth Conducts get fiddly too, but not to nearly the same degree. It probably helps that the rooms are smaller.

The one part that’s a bit of a letdown so far is the story: in contrast to DROD‘s vividly inventive grotesquery, Addlemoth seems to be fairly standard CRPG fare, taking its cues from D&D and Japanese visual novels. But that’s never stopped me from playing a puzzle game before. I’m looking forward to the full release.

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