Hands on with the Small Saga Demo
I’m going to show my age here when I say that playing the Small Saga demo reminded me of the 1992 children’s TV programme, Truckers. You’d be forgiven for not having seen it. Truckers was a stop animation adaptation of a Terry Pratchet novel of the same name. In the book and TV show, the Truckers are little Nomes (Pratchet dropped the silent G) who have to move from their roadside home to find a new place to live. They end up in a department store which is already home to many other Nomes. The resident bunch have created this quasi-religious system, making incorrect observations about the human-made department store and the things within it. If you can get your hands on a VHS tape of the series it’s very good. But I’m not here to sell retro videos.
*Smacks head for getting side-tracked while promising that the opening paragraph is relevant*
No, I’m telling you about Small Saga, an upcoming turn based role-playing game from solo developer Jeremy Noghani
In the demo you take the role of Verm, a rather nervous mouse who is still wet behind his little furry ears. Verm and his brother and mentor, Lance, are searching for the ‘god’s food horde’ – a near limitless food supply. It soon becomes apparent that the two companions are actually unknowingly trying to gain access to a supermarket.
You see, there are whole kingdoms of rodents living below modern day London with their own (here it comes) quasi-religious system set around their misconceptions of humans, who the rodents call ‘gods’, and the things the gods make, just like the Truckers did way back in 1992 *told you that first paragraph was relevant*. It means that a discarded pocket knife or cigarette lighter suddenly becomes a revered ‘god-weapon’.
I really enjoy this medieval, mythology-heavy culture for the protagonists, set against modern trappings like tins of beans and mousetraps. It’s a great concept and with the anthropomorphised vermin leading the cast, we’re sort of seeing Redwall set in 2021 Britain. Lovely stuff.
Playing Small Saga
Small Saga feels like a classic turn based JRPG. Battles are polite, with each side taking their turn shooting arrows/stabbing at the other’s faces, before they return the favour. There’s no Active Time Battle system in play here. Instead you choose from a list of attacks that cost a pre-set number of points. You gain back a small amount each turn. Alternatively, you can also elect to take a defensive stance, or snaffle a bit of bread if you need to quickly heal. This was only the demo so I’m keen to see the variety of attacks and actions available in the full game.
Exploration is from an isometric view. I’m a fan of isometric games but I normally use a mouse to steer my characters. In Small Saga you use your keyboard to direct your little rodent, which took a bit of practice to get the diagonals right, especially when clambering over sewer pipes. Nothing too drastic though and once accustomed, I was scampering around quite happily.
The pixel art is fantastic. The miniature world the developer crafts is full of detail. I particularly liked the little touches in the supermarket where we see shelves stacked with household goods. The character designs are excellent. The screen shots so far have shown other party members I want to get to know.
The soundtrack shouts JRPG with medieval undertones – perfectly fitting for the setting. Attacks thump home satisfyingly. The stomping footsteps of a ‘god’ did genuinely make me fear for our little protagonists life. There isn’t voice acting here. Instead dialogue comes via text, but the writing is good enough that we quickly get a sense of each character’s personality.
Small Saga’s small demo has shown us a lot. With a protagonist I’m already invested in, and a setting I want to explore, this solo-made RPG has got my whiskers all twitchy with excitement.
Small Saga is due for release during 2021.
Find out more at smallsaga.com
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