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  • Summary: Haque is a glitch fantasy roguelike adventure about cute monsters, low-bit hauntings, and a suspiciously talkative narrator. Choose your character and battle through forests, deserts and dungeons to defeat a mysterious evil. Die often. Try again!
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  1. Aug 29, 2018
    9
    Haque is a game fully comfortable wearing its math on its sleeves.

    The rogue-like genre is an all too familiar trend in the indie game
    Haque is a game fully comfortable wearing its math on its sleeves.

    The rogue-like genre is an all too familiar trend in the indie game market. The ability to code functioning RNG maps and enemy placement that reset after every death increases the play time exponentially and can give the developer the most bang for their buck in terms of putting out content. To stand out in that field, you really need to make the pieces being generated feel distinct, and Haque does so with what seems like effortless style.

    The game begins by giving you a choice of three generated characters. These characters have their own species, class, familiar, and items which can completely change how you approach the game. Once you start playing, you're greeted by an old man giving you vague and occasionally counterintuitive advice as a gentle folk song picks up. Visually the game looks like it was ripped out of an 80's era desktop. The pixel graphics are simple but distinct with each character class having just enough detail to inspire players to fill in the gaps for themselves, and the different optional graphical settings you can toy around with can make the game look as dated as you like, even allowing the player to increase the grime on their computer screen. Overall, the visual style could be seen as a cost cutting measure, but it always gives me the impression of a mystical bygone era I can peek into from afar.

    The game is turn based, moving along as you zip from gridspace to gridspace. Each action you perform counts as your turn, and as you take a turn, so do all the enemies in the area. Because enemies move as soon as you do, combat pacing is decided entirely by how prepared you are, it's never dragged down by enemies or dialogue. Combat can be challenging, especially when you're new to the system, but the more I played the more I started to appreciate the intricacies woven into the otherwise straight-forward looking mechanics. Different weapons have higher range, each class has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to different combat scenarios, and because every encounter is simple and easy to read, it really is on you to craft the ideal plan to make it out alive.

    In addition to the retro aesthetic, the tone of Haque is very somber, while still having plenty of room for very well executed jokes. The old man giving you advice becomes obviously untrustworthy early on and his dialogue is delightfully on the nose. Everything has a description which is wonderfully creative and often light-hearted, but there's an initially unspoken sadness to the game. It almost feels like you're on an adventure no one wanted you to have, you're invading a space that wanted to be left alone. The story develops more as the game goes on, but even early in the game, I was drawn in more and more by how much the game was leading me on.

    This is a very DND inspired experience. You are role-playing as your character, and the scenarios you find yourself in offer you the chance to choose how you play. Everything about the game encourages player imagination. The character designs are simple, but you can imagine what they're standing in for. The worlds are simple, but they offer unique areas for combat and exploration which are translated into dramatic encounters in the move tracker on the side of the screen. The story is a slow-burn leading you to fill in the blanks yourself as you trudge forward looking for answers. This is definitely part of why the game was so engaging even as I was playing through the same sections over and over. Each new character file began a new story that I was telling alongside the game.

    The other part that makes this game stand out is it's unique personality that feels like something only the creators could have come up with. Despite the initially generic premise, the game feels very personal and it's the sort of thing a giant studio probably couldn't recreate. This is what indie games are for: showing off the talent of independent creatives who know what they want to see in a game and know how to make it happen.

    For the kind of game it is, Haque is wonderful. It takes time to learn the commands and menu navigation, but in a way that's also part of the experience of familiarizing yourself with the world of the game. I hope SuperTry Studios continues to make games and I hope more people get to experience the charming allure of Haque.
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