I saw a number of innovation on typical mechanics in games at this year’s PAX East. From The Metronomicon‘s integration of rhythm mechanics to party based combat, to Semblance‘s spin on standard puzzle platforming, it was a really good year for finding developers who are turning the standard ideas of gaming on their head (heck, this is exactly why I love the indie game scene so much).
TumbleSeed was one such game, offering up an entirely new way of presenting movement in a game. Well, maybe not entirely new, but certainly something we have never seen in the digital space. Requiring an incredible amount of finesse, TumbleSeed is an utterly surprising and entirely wonderful roguelike adventure I cannot wait to fail at miserably again.
TumbleSeed is a rolly roguelike about a small seed with big dreams.
Roll up a procedurally generated mountain avoiding holes and defeating corrupted creatures in this dual-stick action balance game. Grow powerful with upgrades, meet new friends and master the art of rolling to reach the peak and save your home.
TumbleSeed features 5 unique worlds, over 30 powers to acquire and master over the course of each run, a daily challenge to compete with your friends or globally and many more surprises, secrets and adventures.
TumbleSeed, or at least the main concept of the game, is based on an old 80’s arcade game called Ice Cold Beer. The game involves you moving a metal ball up the playing field by slowly seesawing a metal bar higher and higher. All the time, you’re having to avoid holes your little ball can fall in, ending your attempt.
TumbleSeed works on the same principle, except with a massive dash of roguelike elements, MegaMan and botany. In TumbleSeed you use the left and right thumbsticks to control a bar going across the screen. You use this bar to guide your little special seed up the screen, avoiding enemies, holes in the ground that will send you back to the last check point, and other obstacles.
It’s an absolutely fantastic twist of the typical way we are used to seeing the roguelike genre. The mechanic is easy to understand, but quite hard to master, and requires an incredible amount of finesse to successfully zig and zag your way up the mountain.
Your seed has a host of different abilities it can use, which is where a lot of the game’s strategy comes from. These abilities (almost) all take crystals to use. Crystals can be picked up in the world as yo roll around or generated in a few different ways, but are essentially your energy. These abilities also can only be activated on specific fertile dirt patches spread throughout the level. Once you use an ability, changing that dirt patch into a crystal node or a spring pad, or an extra heart, it’s used up and there’s no going back. So, you’ll have to be careful what you use when, and as the game is a rogue like, you can even get a little bit of long term strategy going with the use of the game’s deposit system.
There are over 30 different abilites in TumbleSeed, and all of the ones I saw at our demo at PAX East seemed unique and inventive. Nothing felt like a must have, but everything felt like a tool that some player would find useful, depending on how they chose to play the game. It was confirmed that the entire game can technically be completed with the four core abilities you get in the game’s introduction, though I was told by developer Benedict Fritz that this would be an exceedingly difficult task (so, I’ll expect a speedrun with only those powers two weeks after launch or so. Get on it internet.)
Visually, Tumbleseed is bright and colorful, with an enormous variety of enemies and environmental obstacles. The game’s a perfect amount of cute and charming, while not being so busy that your distracted from the monumental task of balancing your way to victory. The different environments provide the game some freedom in color schemes and design that keeps things visually rolling, and cyclopean characters inhabiting this world have a surprising amount of expression for quite literally being a color, a shape and an eye.
TumbleSeed is an absolute gem of the indie game scene; an innovative twist of the norm, rolled together with fantastic artistic direction. Is it challenging? Sure, I absolutely sucked at it and had to let Benedict take over for me so we could actually see some of the game, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what this development team is creating, or eagerly await failing ever so hard at it again soon.
TumbleSeed will be launching in April or May (exact date TBD) on Switch, PS4, and Steam(PC/Mac) simultaneously.
Want to learn more about the games we saw at PAX East 2017? Check out this page, which lists all the game’s we saw, and we will be updating with links to our coverage as we complete it.