Stories don’t get much more wholesome than those about a boy and his dog. It’s the quintessential trappings of any good coming of age story. So why does the trailer for Pirate Software’s new RPG, Heartbound fill me with dread? Probably because of all the subtle hints that this game is anything except happy.
Rapidly funded on Kickstarter, Heartbound has already surpassed its $5,000 goal. While the campaign never reveals too much, the brief glimpse it gives into its tale of secrets and sanity is a bit chilling. The story follows a troubled young man named Lore who has a habit of leaving his socks everywhere. He’s also frequently under attack by his own internal turmoil and negative thoughts. This makes every day a struggle as Lore’s outlook has the power to alter and change his perception of the world around him.
Aiding Lore in his adventure is the boy’s loyal guardian, best friend, and dog, Baron. Despite a naturally optimistic outlook on life, Baron has an intense fear of isolation and relies on Lore to function. As the campaign explains, “Baron would do anything for Lore even at the cost of himself.” Add to that the note about Lore’s father being “almost entirely absent from his life due to issues outside of his control,” and things escalate quickly from whimsical to worrying.
All The Things Left Unsaid
Outside of these quick character bios, the campaign never explicitly spells out what players can expect. Usually, we encourage developers to put all their cards on the table when they seek crowdfunding. However, in this unique circumstance the parts they’ve left out actually make the project feel more intriguing.
Pirate Software does let players know what not to expect from Heartbound. Namely, traditional RPG leveling, experience, or consumables. Instead everything the player does is skill-based. Combat is carried out through enemy specific Wario World-esque mini-games. Defeat in combat doesn’t lead to death. Instead it allows players to view memories from their enemies perspective.
All these pieces make it easy to see why Heartbound was quickly Greenlit on Steam last year. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if the whole they form can meet expectations.