If I were a more patient person, I could see myself spending many happy hours playing Our Darker Purpose. As a package, it’s fantastic. The art is suitably creepy and still gorgeous, the music fits the aesthetic perfectly, and the writing (including ability text and level up bonus books) is devilishly clever. The only problem? I’m downright wretched at twin stick shooters, and as a procedurally generated permadeath game, I’m not sure I have it in me to keep muddling through.
However, if you’re experienced (and not rubbish) at twin stick shooters, the controls will be familiar. The Steam page advertises partial controller support, so I thought I’d give it a whirl, but when using my Logitech F310 I couldn’t seem to get out of the loop of constantly shooting towards the left side of the screen. Not being able to choose my fire direction (or indeed to choose whether or not to fire) wasn’t all that helpful, so I went back to the default keyboard control scheme.
Although the levels themselves are different every time you play through, the end bosses of the levels seem to be static. This (admittedly very cool-looking) dragon took me several tries to down – see, I told you I’m bad at this genre. Your projectiles only seem to travel about 1/3 of the width of the screen, so you have to get pretty close to even hit the thing, but if you get too close, well, I don’t know, you get a cardboard cut or something because that does damage. As does getting hit by his fire. Just pretty much assume that everything is going to hurt.
There are more unlocks in Our Darker Purpose than you can shake a stick at and unlocked items are available for future games, giving a sense of permanent progressing (and making it more of a rogue-lite than roguelike). You’re also given a choice of perks when you level up, but these don’t carry over to future play throughs.
Our Darker Purpose is absolutely part of gaming niche that’s far out of my comfort zone, but the fact that I want to play it regardless speaks to the excellence of the design (or at least to my own preferences for spooky settings). Knowing I wouldn’t get as much value out of it as someone more skilled at the genre, I made sure to pick it up on sale, but it’s not unreasonably priced due to near-infinite replayability.