Lilly and Sasha: Curse of the Immortals seems to have it all; fun puzzles that aren’t too difficult but get your mind thinking, streamlined combat that manages to be simple and deep, humor and a layer of freedom that blend together to make this role-playing game stand out from a pack of hundreds. There’s a professional product that makes it feel worth the money. Everything that’s here has been done before, but Curse of the Immortals does it in such a way that its approachable, casual and deep all at the same time.
Lilly and Sasha are on a journey, but its not one of size and scope, but its one that lets you get caught up in the details of your surroundings. You won’t have to travel very far to discover thrilling mystery. with the game’s small towns and big dungeons. The combat feels like a third of the experience with another third being about the puzzles and the last third is discovery; finding what’s around every corner. It feels linear to the point that you won’t get lost, but board enough that the area you’re supposed to be in is rife with things to do; people to talk to, things to unlock and places to discover. There is a run button, but to make things faster, each town has a transporter that can send you back to a previous settlement to hand in something from an earlier quest.
While the game feels dialog heavy, there’s humor everywhere in unexpected places. A lad will tell you he’s come up with a puzzle that involves hitting a switch seventeen times. After hitting the switch that many times he’ll tell you that the puzzles not done yet. Pointing out an excessively long staircase with a complaint from characters to boot only to have an instant teleport to the top when you step on the first stair. Many houses in the game have mailboxes and you’ll meet a post woman that says she’ll never get them delivered in time, so if you ask to take them from her, she’ll laugh and say “Yes, I’m really going to hand over confidential mail to anyone that walks in here.” Curse of the Immortals bucks stereotypical side quests in favor of humor and logical ones such as traveling three towns over to report someone to the better business bureau.
To keep you on point, there’s a quest system and you’ll need it, because I skipped through a lot of dialog. It tells you what you need to do and what you’ll get for doing it. Sometimes its a bit odd to get gold for certain things when no one is paying you for it. Experience might have been better. Without the quest journal I would have never remembered a quest from six hours ago. There are even collectables such as taking photographs of symbols or even getting souvenirs. Each town has a bulletin board so you can easily find what there is to do, but it won’t tell you where to go. Part of any RPG is finding it for yourself.
Curse of the Immortals keeps things interesting with its puzzles. Its not just typical push block puzzles, but every dungeon has a twist on the traditional. Such as pushing blocks that also affect bridge tiles so you can cross. Making your room match the one beside it is hardly nothing new, but it feels like a fun diversion. There are even walk tiles that get more complex, such as when different colors represent how many more times you can walk on them. Even explosive puzzles and laser puzzles where you’ll have to block lasers from shooting you.
Battles are relegated to bumping into enemies where you’ll have a turn based battle. Your active party can only have three members and the enemies never seem to have a party more than three. During each turn, you’ll select from one of the simplest, yet engaging combat systems I’ve ever found. A menu of actions is gone in favor of an easier five icon cross that consists of five icons. You have use an item, three solo actions and a team maneuver. One thing it doesn’t have is a run command.
Everyone has health like a typical RPG, but here’s where the twist comes in you don’t have mana, but stamina. Each fight resets your stamina to full, but each one of the four maneuvers costs stamina. On every turn, some gets replenished, but if you exceed the amount of stamina that you have left, that character is put to sleep. Oh I’m sure they’re just resting their eyes, but they’ll be asleep for an indeterminate amount of time. Stamina doesn’t become an issue unless you always use your biggest attacks, other than that its only an issue against a boss that lasts far longer than an average fight. The stamina system makes every battle more thought provoking. Do you risk running out of stamina to hopefully kill an enemy quicker?
Team maneuvers use two specific teammates for a different effect, but it only uses the active party member’s turn and not both terms. Using a team maneuver completely drains the team meter that you’ll need to build up by performing other attacks and actions. The team meter carries over from one battle to the next, so if your meter is empty at the end of one battle, its empty at the start of the next. As for the other three actions, they are a standard fight and two tiers of other actions. Each character has their own actions and you can change the active party members outside of a battle.
At the end of the battle, dead party members are revived and everyone gets a bit of health back. Even inactive party members get the same amount of experience, so you’re not forced to keep the same members active all the time. The battle backgrounds are well done with a lot of detail, but they use the same map tiles as the map itself.
You even get pets that have their own experience. You can get a snake or a dog, both will buff your party in different ways for the entire battle. Its a nice touch, but its just always in the background. Losing a battle lets you load a save menu or restart the battle and that keeps you playing longer. Save points are found in journals that are everywhere.
To make things interesting, each character can have runes equipped that will give specific traits like higher damage, or critical hits and even poison or absorption attacks. Its all about customization and I find it engaging, there just aren’t a lot of these runes to go around. You can equip two runes, each for the standard attack and for a higher action.
While exploring dungeons, palaces and haunted mansions, you’ll find all sorts of equipment. The game auto-equips things for you, but you can still manually do it if you’re so inclined. Equipment is hard to come by, so something new will always be better than something old. Shops don’t sell that many things, in fact to buy something you touch to buy it. You’ll find specific characters that will only buy one thing and that limits how much or what you can sell. Without much to buy, selling isn’t important.
There are all sorts of diversions whether its doing puzzles for treasure, finding totems scattered here and there, but you’ll also find dog race betting. Without these, its tough to stay in game. It doesn’t feel like a grand story, it feels almost humble in its scope with your only real priority being to get through the dungeon to its boss. It keeps a narrow focus on what’s around you. With the game’s focus on humorous dialog that’s legitimately funny at times, its tough to tell one character from another in terms of what they’d say.
The real negative of the game for me is the music. It just doesn’t sound grand, epic or catchy like other RPGs of the genre. I’ll never be humming along with the light guitar that I hear. Nor will I remember the piano played by someone’s assistant to accompany you through a mansion. While the music isn’t bad, it does feel like a detriment.
Lilly and Sasha: Curse of the Immortals is an enjoyable game full of discovery, but without a big, bold plot, it might be difficult for you to get invested to get far enough in the game. I’d also like to thank John Wizard for giving me a copy of the game.