One of the Japanese demonology inspired Yokai you’ll face in indie platformer Rising Dusk is the lizard-bird hybrid Kappa. The Kappa is an ancient Japanese folklore staple, and has a history with games too – the most notable example being fire breathing princess stealer King Koopah himself. Digital portrayals of the Kappa vary from cutesy to terrifying, but in myth, he’s a somewhat tragic character. Traditionally, Kappa draw power from a bowl of water carried on their heads. Spill the water, and the sailor-drowning Kappa is defeated. Unfortunately for the Kappa, they have one fatal flaw – their unfailing politeness. Bow to a Kappa, and it cannot help but bow back. Goodbye water bowl. Goodbye Kappa. Gamers, too, are cursed with a fatal flaw. One that, if only relinquished, could make our journeys through digital worlds so much easier. Namely: our obsession with collecting shiny objects. Described as an ‘anti-coin collection platformer’, Rising Dusk knows you lack discipline, and it’s going to make you pay for it.
Rising Dusk is the first solo project from Lukas Stobie of Studio Stobie, a Melbourne based artist and game designer. His previous works include hard-boiled JPRG Pixel Noir. Joining him for Rising Dusk are comic writer Max Ebert and musician Brett Wright. The free demo is light on overt story elements, despite a captivating atmosphere. I can confirm, though, that the soundtrack is an absolute banger. Peaceful, trip-hop inspired chip tune intermingled with synthesized woodwinds and chimes that fit the aesthetic perfectly. My cat seemed to dig it too.
Anti Coin Collector
But the subversion of traditional platforming is where Rising Dusk really shines. A to B traversal is simple – providing you keep coin collecting to a minimum. Large sections of each level consist of numbered blocks which crumble immaterial when you collect the corresponding number of (un)lucky coins. Enemies aren’t lethal – but they’ll happily punch you straight back into that coin you just narrowly avoided. With a bit of skill though, you can play these light physics elements off against each other – jumping on enemies or using their attacks to reach high areas.
Rising Dusk also features an organic risk-reward system. Different tiers of collectibles – in combination with the numbered blocks that hinder progress to certain areas – allow you to modify your own difficulty through self imposed challenge runs. While some collectibles will only require you to avoid certain coins, others require precise planning in which order you tackle the level. The combination of these emergent, player lead elements is Rising Dusk‘s greatest strength.
If you feel like you’ve collected a few too many lucky coins yourself recently and want to help realize the 2018 PC and Mac release of Rising Dusk, their Kickstarter is currently live.