By Spencer . January 16, 2008 . 11:30am
Baroque begins with a blue haired protagonist talking to an archangel who drops a gun on the ground. The winged creature gave me a cryptic message, “there is meaning into you using this” before I stepped into Neuro Tower without any weapons. Well, technically I had the Angelic bazooka with five bullets… should I use it against the floating fish drawing near? Maybe later. I decided to test out his hand to hand fighting skills. Three hit punch combo with the square button, check. Slow, but wide spinning kick attack mapped to triangle. Got it. I mashed my way through a fish and continued exploring the dungeon. Each level has a little portal to step in. Touch it and you delve deeper into Neuro Tower, which is represented by the negative cubits underneath the vitality meter.
Each second my VT (vitality meter) was dropping. You can give it a little boost by picking up crystals from defeated meta-beings (read: monsters), but the VT meter made me feel a constant sense of urgency. If it drops down to zero the life meter begins to drain, which puts you a step closer to death. But maybe that’s a good thing. Death moves the world of Baroque forward.
When I got to the third floor I was surrounded by meta-beings. One of them was encased in a shell and inflicted me with poison. My VT was low too. Since things weren’t looking good, I resorted to using the Angelic gun. Through the item screen I equipped the weapon, which seemed to instantly kill enemies. However, with only five shots my life was only extended for a short period before I died and saw my character was in a simulation. All along the protagonist was inside a green tube, but the “real atonement” for his sin was about to start.
The town is surrounded by red aura and disfigured beings live in it. One man (beast?) called Longneck has a bony giraffe neck and desires seeds to boost his VT. A horned girl sits on a chair without her memories and a woman with a bag over her head is hanging from a rope. This is the kind of place that leaves a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart. OK, it feels more like purgatory. There is one kind of friendly fellow, a coffin maker who also creates training dungeons and loves to say “goddammit.” I walked into his dungeon and quickly found Atonement, my first sword. The controls work just like hand to hand combat, but the sword has more horizontal reach. I also found a coat, which changes the appearance of the protagonist. With a sword in hand I breezed through the dungeon and stocked up on bones, limited items that can be thrown at enemies.
Great! I have a higher level and some decent recovery items like meat to boost HP (note: you don’t need to eat meat to boost your HP you can stand still and it will slowly recover). I’m ready to step into Neuro Tower again. The sword made fighting much easier and on one of the levels I was lucky enough to find a pair of wings that reduced the amount of VT consumed to ¾. I was on a roll for a good fifteen minutes before my HP started running low. I could have eaten the meat, but if I saved the meat and ate it when my HP was maxed out my character would get a permanent HP boost. I liked the sound of the permanent stat increase too much so I saved it, which was a terrible idea. Instead I tried to chuck a boom bone at a group of meta-beings. Boom bones are like grenades. On the plus side you can hit a group of meta-beings at once with a boom bone, but if you’re in the line of fire you take damage too. After I threw the bone I realized the fish was way too close and I blew myself up in the process. Ouch.
Instead of being warped out of the dungeon or seeing a “Game Over” I found myself back in town without my sword, cloak, wings or levels. I was back at square one, but the residents spoke differently to me. I was weak so I went back to the training dungeon to build my character up before giving Neuro Tower another go. The second time I stepped into Neuro Tower I didn’t get much further because I have a tendency to horde items instead of using them. I felt if I could just press on in the dungeon I could use my recovery items for small, but permanent VT or HP boosts. You don’t want to make this mistake early in the game. If you’re low on vitality it is a wise decision to eat a seed rather than reverting to level one.
I continued making mistakes and not restarting from a save game for a few cycles when suddenly the training dungeon evolved. It grew in size, had more items to pick up and a grotesquely plump meta-being who wears a gas mask and attacks by farting. Before I ran into them I found an invincible bone, which briefly makes the character invincible if you eat it. However, if you throw it at an enemy they become invincible! I made sure not to make that mistake and now I’m much better equipped for Neuro Tower. I gained levels pretty quickly from the training dungeon too, plus gobbled up some meat when my HP was full to take advantage of permanent (to be more precise permanent until you die) bonuses. However, I’m still “lost”. There aren’t many places to go aside from the training dungeon and Neuro Tower, but I’m not quite sure what to do rather than push through the core dungeon. Everything in Baroque has a mysterious feel to it, even the "goal". I know I need to head to the bottom of Neuro Tower and I’ll report back after I take advantage of saving/reloading on every floor.