PAX 2018 Spotlight: The World Next Door

The last few months have been remarkably busy on Blackthorn. We've been out of the water since July 11th, but should be back in the water soon. I was fortunate enough to work PAX this year, and after my shifts, I spent some time poking around the expo floor, as well as popping into the MIX and SIX indie showcases.

Here's one of the many lovely games that caught my eye at the show:

Game title with art of characters

The World Next Door by Rose City Games
Genre: Narrative-Driven Action Adventure, with a real-time puzzle battle mechanic
Planned Release: Early 2019     
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Nintendo Switch

I walked up to the booth for The World Next Door on a whim and quickly realized that this game had my number.  The demo was just long enough for me to realize that this game was going on my "must buy" list.

Why am I so excited for this game?

The protagonist is dropped into a world of monsters... I don't go by Creaturista for nothing. The character and monster designs are both beautifully rendered and highly detailed. The writing backs up the gorgeous visuals with snappy and entertaining dialog. I cannot wait to learn more about the world and characters that the developers are bringing to life in this title.

The mechanics are clever and polished. If the rest of the game plays like the demo, I'm going to end up marathoning this game as soon as I get my hands on it. Maybe I'm just gushing because I've missed games that do what this game is doing just as well - I am a hermit, after all - but The World Next Door was a pleasure to play. Little touches, like accompanying dialog choices with a face showing their emotional intent showed how much thought the devs put into building solid systems. No more picking a "nice" dialog option, only to watch in horror as your protagonist pours on the snark.

A dialog between characters, showing the player's options.

On the topic of mechanics, the combat introduced in the demo was a clever adaptation of a Collapse/Match-3 mechanic. As you run around the grid populated with colored runes, you can group them together and activate them to cast spells. Each color of rune casts a different spell, such as a fireball or creating an electrically charged field. Because enemies are actively chasing the player around the field and attacking, you have to act quickly, but you can also be quite strategic with how your arrange and trigger the runes.  The demo only had a bit of combat in it, but it felt like an approachable system with serious potential.

A screenshot of the player fighting a large monster on a grid covered in colored runes.

The World Ends With You, Undertale, Puzzle Quest, and Persona 4 are a few of the games that came to mind as I played through the demo. In case it's not abundantly obvious, I'm incredibly excited for this release from Rose City Games, and was amazed to learn that this is their first original title.

Thanks for reading! I'll be following up with another spotlight soon! If you have any questions for me, or just want to hang out with some cool folks, feel free to hop on the Creaturista Discord server!

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