I can think of few games that wear their influences more on their sleeves than Glitched. Its design is a love letter to Earthbound and Undertale, but it also manages to present a totally different but equally metafictional narrative.
Glitched is a game about a player playing an old-school RPG. Players are effectively a character in the narrative, being on the other side of the screen of the few in-universe characters that notice your presence. While the ambiguously moral Frog Inc corporation is trying to present players with a classic adventure game, up to the point of creating a generic main hero for the player to control, a mysterious glitch invades the game and corrupts the aforementioned character before he can leave on his journey.
One side effect of this event is that Gus, a character that Frog Inc describes as a disposable NPC due to his status as the main character’s friend who doesn’t want to go on adventures, is thrown into a strange void and gains the ability to communicate with you, the player. You can actually encounter the first “ending” to the story here if you reveal too much to Gus about the fictional nature of the world he lives in, and he loses his trust in you.
From here, Glitched introduces its primary mechanic for the player’s interaction with the story. This is the type of game where the player will have several choices in handling any given situation, and those choices can represent six different “essences” that accumulate over the course of the game. Whichever “essence” you build up the most in Gus will become his dominant one, and this can change how you interact with the characters in the story, all of whom also have dominant traits.
It’s an extremely transparent and interesting look at the way choice-based games build their cast…
It’s an extremely transparent and interesting look at the way choice-based games build their cast, as while everybody – including Gus – is certainly more than just their most dominant trait, it also clearly illustrates the archetypes upon which they’re built and encourages you to play around with your own.
The combat in Glitched is where the game shows most of its Mother inspirations, but rather than choosing from a full list of actions, this title’s battles run on a recharging AP economy. You get six points per turn, and your four different actions per character may all cost different amounts of AP. However, the attacks themselves also need to be periodically recharged. You might have a move that costs 3 AP but can only be used once per refresh, and refreshing also costs AP, so you’ll have to strategize how much you can accomplish before the enemy gets a go.
Glitched makes an excellent first impression with this demo that quickly teaches the player that there is an absolute iceberg awaiting to be uncovered depending on how much they want to engage with it. Additionally, this demo boasts a standout soundtrack, secrets, and an intricately involved relationship between the player and Gus. If you’re craving a carefully crafted but wide-open game that challenges your idea of narrative itself, this is already one to look out for.
Glitched is in development for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC-via Steam.
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