Some games are designed to offer varying experiences so you grow while you play, developing skills and seeing more of it each time. Juicy Realm, an upcoming title from SpaceCan and X.D. Network, is one such game. Players find themselves in a futuristic world where plants become the enemy. They have their own empire and are attempting to take over. One a few dare challenge them, and that is where the adventure begins.
Juicy Realm is a game that packs elements from multiple genres into one adventure. It is a procedurally generated roguelike. Each time you head into the plant empire, you have one shot to get as far as you possibly can and face multiple, daunting foes. This means there is a bit of a learning curve, one that might result in a few deaths while you learn the nuances between characters and their abilities, learn how to use the weapons and survive each “room” you go through. Managing your health, ability cooldowns and weapon durability is critical to staying alive. Even though each experience will not be the same, players will end up building themselves up by continuing to go back and keep playing. Like all roguelikes, there is the knowledge that the next trip into the empire will be different.
It is also a top-down, twin stick shooter. You have to take into account the range of your gun, as well as your enemy’s equipment. Cover can be permanent, breakable or even hazardous. This means knowing when to fire at a bomb, so it goes off when enemies approach, or taking care when finding shelter behind a truck, keeping in mind that too much damage will start a major fire, are things to always remember. And even if you are in the open, there is something of a bullet hell element, since you can see enemies’ bullet patterns as they come toward you and use the dash ability to get out of the way. Since you do not know which guns you will come across and when in each playthrough, there is a sense of continual innovation and strategizing, to find what will work each run as a failsafe and what you could do if the stars align and a good loadout arrives.
Then, there is the cooperative element. Juicy Realm can be played alone or with another local player. Each person works together to clear a space of fruit so the duo can move onward. You need to learn how to work alone or with someone else. Do you flank sleeping creatures and then strike when both people are in place? Is pushing some boxes by dashing and creating a central point you can protect and attack from together a better idea? When does a person playing as the female character, who has an ability that creates a brief healing circle at the start of each game, use that skill to keep the team alive? Different partners will find different strategies and gain new experiences as they journey into the plant empire and try to do some damage.
The sense of discovery is another motivating element. Each time you head in, you could end up seeing different enemies or equipment. Bad apples and pears came up rather frequently when I played. One time, I did end up seeing an intimidating pineapple. There are these little critters that look and act like dogs. I think some tiny grapes, where were small and had an easier time avoiding my shots, would try and swarm me. Guns look different, with one of mine shooting off what seemed like fireworks and another maybe having money as ammunition? I recommend watching characters’ faces too, as they react to different elements. When my heroine received an especially flashy weapon and I had her equip it, her eyes grew larger and her mouth pursed as though she was saying, “Ooo!”
Juicy Realm is a game that mixes multiple different elements that are intriguing and will appeal to different people. Those who like the replayability and uniqueness that come from roguelikes and procedurally generated games will likely find the varying levels intriguing. Those who get into shooters may look forward to finding different weapons, discovering different enemies and bosses and knowing how to take advantage of surroundings. There is also something to be said for the experience that can come from playing alone or with a partner. There are different ways it tries to make things feel fresh and rewarding, and people may be interested in exploring that.
Juicy Realm will come to PCs on May 3, 2018. Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Android and iOS versions are in development.