PC, free

You know what’s better than a really terrible idea? A really good idea! Cutting your own head off with a pair of scissors is a really terrible idea. Carni-Forest is a really good idea!

Built for the plant-themed GBJAM 10, a game jam for Game Boy-inspired games that finished yesterday, this is by Buried Treasure alumni, Narwhalnut. And it’s such a brilliantly simple concept, superbly delivered. You’re a little chap on an RPG-like quest through the forests, encountering enemies on a three-by-three grid, attacking them with variously shaped blocks. Imagine if Tetris tetrominoes possessed murderous power. Then stop imagining that quite so much, because you’re frightening me.

They don’t fall from above, but rather you have a set of one- to four-block shapes to place on the grid in battles. Some will “Pow” the enemies, others might “Drain” them of shields, another could “Sap” them to steal health, or indeed a combination thereof. You can buy new ones in shops along the way, along with upgrades to your attack and defence, as well as rest in inns, but all for a price. A price earned by battling the horticultural enemies.

It starts off pretty easily, but don’t be fooled. You’re going to want to power up as early as you can, because enemies will surprise you. And death comes with no rewards. This is old-school, no rogue-lite, and loss is loss and means starting the little game over again.

It’s not enormously in-depth, because, you know, it’s a game jam game! But it is a really good idea, and really satisfying to play. I think the concept has enough to it that it could be developed into a really nice little RPG, even a rogue-lite proper. But given this is free, it’s absolutely worth your time grabbing from Itch and having some fun.

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