Superepic: The Entertainment War

Allow me to describe a game idea to you:

All of videogames have been taken over by one evil publisher, producing only crappy free-to-play games, with anything else outlawed. So you, a raccoon, decide to infiltrate the headquarters of said evil publisher, riding on the back of your llama and armed with an umbrella and broom. You know, It’s a pixel platformer, and when the baddies die, they release a puff of dollar-sign-shaped smoke. Play the Indie Game Anthem.

This is Superepic, a really satisfying Metroidish platform game, in which sense takes second place to stuff.

RegnantCorp is the evil company, Tan Tan is your raccoon, Oma is his spitty steed. Leaping about, gaining new abilities and upgrading old ones, and duffing up the employees is what we’re here to do. And do it well it does, with some really hefty combat, lots of different attacks and enemy types, and boss fights that are fun rather than tiresome. That’s absolutely all it needs to be. Which is why it’s nice that there are so many little extras, too.

It’s undeniably heavy-handed in its condemnation of certain areas of gaming. Opposing free-to-play models and corporate clones of popular mobile trends is about as bold and radical a position as being brave enough to come out against puppy murdering. But while the rhetoric espoused is a little trite and obvious, the effort that’s gone into spoofing it all deserves some serious acclaim.

The first example occurs very early on, when you reach a key-coded door, with no means of opening it, and a QR code on the background wall. So of course I grabbed my phone, scanned it, and went to the URL it revealed. A RegnantCorp URL. Flappy Pig $tory it was. An embedded browser game that had me tapping to duck up and down through pipes, and yes, yes, it’s about five years late on the joke. But still, they made a whole Flappy Bird clone for a gag. Eventually the game crashed, and spewed out a code, which unlocked the door. THAT’S quite the thing. Once more: they built a whole browser game clone just to unlock a door in the game.

Later comes a Crossy Road copy, Jurassic Pig $tory. And scroll through the RegnantCorp website to find the rest if you want to see the other pretty obvious trends they mimic.

But that wasn’t it. Another terminal offered a code that took me to a really horrendous clicker game on my phone browser, that started generating in-game money. Which, in turn, unlocked money cards in its “Withdraw” section, generating a code to put into the game proper. Doing that unlocked more in-game money to spend on upgrades and new equipment. And at this point, as I was leaving my phone running the mostly automated clicker next to me, waiting to unlock new levels, that I realised all the lines had been blurred and I was now the target of the game’s mockery, alongside the F2P models themselves.

And it doesn’t stop there! In the third chapter I found a copy of a game being made by some of the employees, that they were worried would be too difficulty to monetise. A roguelike. It was then added to Superepic’s main menu. This then has the game rejig itself in a more Rogue Legacy style, with earned cash spent on further runs after a death, letting you improve your starting build, and even pay to have the map remain the same as last time.

And I’m really only a fraction of the way through the game. There’s a lot going on here, even if the core of the game is a solid-but-standard combat platformer. It’s not the most exciting, but there’s little to complain about too. The fact that I’m playing fully realised mockeries of mobile games on my phone in order to find codes for locked doors is just bloody marvellous. They’ve also built the in-theme website that doesn’t break the frame, and even a Twitter account that is gruesomely under-followed.

I’m really enamoured, and love how much has been poured into this. I really hope the rest of the press spots it too, because this much effort deserves a lot more attention.

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