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Hylics 2 - Review




How do we describe the feeling of weirdness? Weird question to ask in of itself, but in all honesty how do we define weird and the way we apply it as a description? The most simple definition of weird I can find is, “Suggesting something supernatural or uncanny.” That the object we applied the word “weird” onto feels out of place. That it just doesn’t belong to the current scenario and why would it to begin with. Weird is weirdly hard to truly define, and I’ve certainly encountered a lot of weird encounters in the past. One time I went to the grocery store and standing outside was a group of men with brass horns preaching about god and the golden stairs leading to heaven. They were robes, shouted their heads off, and spoke in biblical terms. Another time I was at the mall once and a man I’m assuming was high on drugs, most likely the hard sh*t from what I’m told, walked in and screamed the F-word several times in a row in the perfume section. I’ve seen weird things, but trust me those weren’t the weirdest encounters I had. No, it was instead the obscure artwork available for the public to see.


Weird way to open up the review, but nonetheless we proceed because it’s a weird day for a weird review based on a weird subject matter. Weird art is artwork no matter how you perceive it, because even though you may be confused on what the artist is trying to convey with their piece you at least know they did it in a unique way. They could have made another generic looking piece, but thanks to abstraction and having a weird mind they were able to get creative and go outside the box. For all we know they could have gotten drunk and splatter whatever paints they had onto a board until they wake up hours later and find what their drunken mind created. There’s no better example of weird artwork than Edvard Munch who made the famous painting, The Scream. A simple concept that took a weird turn for the better, weirdly. Trust me weirdo, we’re gonna keep saying the weird word “weird” a weird amount of times.


Weird is weird and the weirder you get the more weird that builds within your weird little mind within your weird body. No matter how much you try to deny your weirdness you have to admit you’ll have to get weirdly used to the weird at some point. You are weird, I am weird, and everyone in the whole world is weird. We all sh*t our pants at some point, usually on accident while in a moving vehicle. Anyways, I don’t mind it if a show or piece of media decides to get weird. At the end of the day we’re trying to appreciate art. I’d rather take something unique rather than generic. I’ve witnessed a lot of weird media, and this is especially the case with video games. From the quirky JRPG you may know as Persona 5 to the mind boggling 3D platformer Psychonauts. However, some of the weirdest games I have played are probably RPG Maker titles. Made by smaller creators with bizarre minds and known mainly for using the RPG Maker. There’s Omori, Undertale, Lisa: The Painful, and it’s surprising to see how these weird RPG Maker titles address mature subject matters. However, none of these games have come close to the amount of weird energy radiating off of the highly underrated Hylics 2.


It was developed and published by solo independent developer Mason Lindroth. The first Hylics was developed in the span of one year, which is surprising to hear seeing how it came from one man. It was released exclusively to itch.io and the Steam marketplace and Mason wasn’t expecting to port the game to consoles. It was a simple computer game to run and play, but what made Hylics special compared to a lot of other RPG Maker games was its visuals. Mason recorded, animated, and programmed dozens of stop motion clay figures. Wanting to recapture the artistry of the 1970s.


Hylics didn’t blow up at launch. Mason wasn’t disappointed, because he knew it was a niche game made for a niche audience. He didn’t want it to blow up, but rather be appreciated by those who stumbled upon it. They did just that and soon Hylics became one of the most renowned RPG Maker titles. It didn’t stand up to the likes of Undertale or Lisa: The Painful, but it was better than a majority of them. A sequel was soon put into the works and five years later in 2020 it was finally released. A bit of speculation surrounded the game and fans were wondering if it would live up. The answer was yes. Hylics 2 is a splendid little RPG, and while it’s pretty flawed at times it’s charming features redeem it. Today we’ll be talking about Hylics 2 and why it deserves your attention. Let’s get weirdly weird in the weirdest way you can imagine!


Story


The story of Hylics 2, while confusingly presented, is actually really basic once you nail down the key points. In the previous, a group of four heroes vanquished an evil power by the name of Gibby before he could spread destruction across the land. Peace then followed shortly afterwards and for several years the world never had to face such a dangerous monstrosity ever again. Yet, all wasn’t peaceful as the tyrannical Gibby had followers who wanted to bring their dead master back. They began studying ritual arts and collecting the pieces needed to resurrect Gibby. They builts a base so they could conduct their magic and soon the balance found within the realm became distraught. Four heroes were needed once again to stop the madness once again.


The adventure begins at the Wayne House, a small residence where our main hero lives. You play as Wayne, not the Wayne more like a Wayne because several Waynes live on the property. Not a family whose last name is Wayne, but several copies of the same person. They even have Wayneslugs which serve as pets and an Elder Wayne who looks over the entire group of Waynes. Wayne is called upon by the Elder Wayne to embark on an epic quest to stop the resurrection of Gibby. He then sent to the nearby city of New Mudal to gather allies to aid him. Pongorma, Dedusmuln, and later down the line Somsnosa. The old band is together again, but Gibby’s resurrection chamber is out of their reach. They must figure out how to get there and fight off the many foes that stand in their way. It’s gonna be a rough journey, but they’ll learn to pull through.


Gameplay


Hylics 2, much like a lot of RPG Maker titles, aims to recapture the style of exploration and combat found in classic JRPG games. You wander around the world, pick up new allies, get into fights, and try to do what is necessary to progress the story. The exploration is fairly simple to understand if you’ve played any RPG before. Some areas may be inaccessible for the time being, but you can go anywhere in the world at any time you want. Sometimes you’ll encounter high level enemies who kill you and your party quickly, so that might be a signal to come back later when you are stronger and better prepared for fights like these. You can talk to NPCs to learn more about the world, adjust better to the setting you are in, or maybe earn some insight on where to go next to progress. You could also initiate optional quests or be given items to access rooms or buildings containing items that may help you on your journey. Most important thing to look for are TVs. By staring into a TV you may learn the gestures and techniques to perform a new ability during combat. These can be especially helpful when used at the right moment.


Then there’s the combat which is fairly easy to understand if you played any turn-based RPG. I always prefer turn-based combat more to real time, because it feels rewarding when you come up with tactics to pull through difficult encounters. It’s like playing chess, but there the battles are animated. You and your enemies take turns exchanging hits and applying ailments onto each other. When you knock a foe’s health down to zero they explode and can no longer participate in the fight, because they are dead. However, if you and all your allies die before all of the enemies are obliterated it’s game over. Your main attack method is to snap which deal reasonable amounts of damage. You also have a magic meter and magic can be used to perform spells and abilities. The ones you picked up while looking into TVs, but certain characters have special spells. Wayne can weaken an enemy for a short amount of time, Somsnosa can attack multiple foes at once, Dedusmulan can apply armor onto an apply which negates status ailments, and Dedusmuln can strike a single foe with heavy damage dealing lightning in exchange for being stunned the next turn. Other abilities include being able to heal allies, applying burn, curing an ally of a status ailment, and most importantly the ability to Charge Up. It’s unlocked once you reach the TV Station, but by charging up you can power up an attack or one of the abilities you have. Increasing its effects and making it more effective. If you don’t have enough Magic to perform an ability then you’ll be unable to use it unless you refill your magic meter.


Leveling up and progression in Hylics 2 is more strange compared to a lot of RPGs. When you win a fight you don’t gain experience points, and there’s no leveling up system to begin with. It can take a while until you figure out how to increase stats, but eventually you will. At the end of each fight you earn Meat, and by visiting a location known as the Afterlife you can grill this meat to increase your party’s maximum Flesh which is health in this game. Paper Cups can be used at a water fountain inside the airship you unlock later on and it increases maximum Will, which is your magic meter basically. I forgot the item’s name, but it increases a party member’s max attack power by one point when used. Usually dump into the character with the most attack power, because it just makes sense. There are also other ways you increase your stats, and that’s by equipping gloves and pants you find along your journey. They can either be purchased off of merchants or looted when defeating certain foes. To purchase items you need Bones, and they can either be gained from winning battles or just finding them in the world. You can also buy consumables to heal the party. Food to restore health, Coffee to restore magic, Sponges to revive an ally, and much more. What else can I say about the game? Not much else to be honest. This is a pretty simple game despite looking weird, and it gets going once you figure out what to exactly do. Hopefully you can defeat those darn cultists and stop the resurrection of a mad lord.


Thoughts


Now we can get to my honest thoughts of Hylics 2. The game is currently sitting at ninety-two percent across all reviews on Steam, which makes it sit at an overwhelmingly positive range. Meaning it falls within a very small percentage of well acclaimed games on Steam, and that’s quite a lot for a small indie RPG. Everyone who has played this game is considering it a near perfect masterpiece and I can understand where they are coming from. We don’t get games as unique as Hylics 2 that often and it’s been around five years since the original. There was so much love packed into giving this game a personality and it shines through till the end. Hylics 2 is amazing, but it does have a couple of problems which prevent me liking it as much as everyone. That doesn’t mean it’s terrible though. I still think Hylics 2 is great and lives up to the hype in a lot of cases. I can still strongly recommend this to a lot of gamers, but I will say my ability to recommend this to a casual person is difficult. It is a niche game after all, so I only apply it to certain audiences. I can specifically recommend Hylics 2 to those who liked the original, enjoy RPG maker titles and turn-based combat, and want to witness some trippy visuals. Other people though may not like it and that’s fine. Hylics 2 is a diamond in the rough.


Let’s get what I love about this game out of the way first. The visuals and art direction. Everything in this game was either hand animated or used clay stop motion. Every creature, character, and attack has this bizarre look to them and you just have to sit and be amazed at how much thought and creativity was put towards making it look unique. I especially love the death animation when you hit a game over. Knowing the characters are made of clay and seeing their faces melt away from the heat of battle, literally. The backgrounds and world were painted from what I can tell, and I love the selection of colors they use. It’s bright and each stroke of the brush makes the world feel like it popped out of a painting. The soundtrack isn’t much and to be honest it isn’t my favorite, but I liked it. The cool and smooth vibes it gives off as you explore the world and engage in battles. The soundtrack is so chill that Hylics 2 turns into an album cover. Like a band needed to make their next release standout, so they hired someone to design the artwork of their next album. Add in some unique effect, filtering, and sounds Hylics 2 is joyful to watch.


Gameplay wise it’s sort of a mixed blend. Overall I think there is enough to withstand the flaws, but there are certainly problems which other major RPGs avoided in the past. Hylics 2 does give direction on where to go through a small description in the pause menu, but outside of that it doesn’t give exact direction. There’s no icon on the screen telling you where to go or who to talk to, so you have to figure it all out by yourself. This is fine. I like this sort of quest design, because it allows the player to go at their own pace and figure information out on their own. It lets them feel more like an adventurer rather than a tourist being pelted with info. Sometimes the structuring and design of levels is good enough to guide the player forward, but certain areas like Foglast could have had more to direct the player in a giant empty field full of high-level enemies.


It can take awhile to figure out how to level up stats, because the game doesn’t do a good job teaching the player how to. I’m fine with this as well, because once you do figure it out you have this “ahah” moment I’ve encountered in other titles like Tunic and Outer Wilds. You don’t have control over what you specifically allocate points into though. JRPGs don’t contain the build variety or stat chart in RPG titles such as Elden Ring and Divinity: Original Sin 2, and players have judged this aspect with JRPGs a lot because it means you can’t control what a person does and how they perform during combat. I used to think this was a problem, but every time I became comfortable with it. JRPGs are less about complexity and more about providing fun from the start. That’s why when it comes to increasing stats in Persona 5, Omori, or in this case Hylics 2 all it really comes down to is equipping the gear with the highest numbers.


The story is really vague at first, but like I said it’s simple. There’s not much lore to work off of and characters really don’t have that much personality. Hylics 2 is less about story and more about appreciating the art on display, and gamers will really like this. Personally, I’m a little bummed out, because all the RPG Maker titles I’ve played have an in-depth story or throw some really dark theme at you through either twists or symbolism. Yet again, I was fine because what story are you going to make off the clay figures and monstrosities running around on screen. Combat is where things got rough for me though. At first combat was great and once I started unlocking new party members the pacing picked up. However, there was a point where battles stopped being fun. Later on, enemies appear in hordes, and this can make simple fights found in the world last more than fifteen minutes. Specific enemy types are annoying depending on the ailment they inflict onto your party, the way they dish out damage within a small period of time, or a specific effect where they multiply rapidly extending the duration of the fight as you have more goes to deal with. The first boss was fair, but around major boss number two the game had weird difficulty curves. It made a game with the least amount of grinding I’ve seen in a RPG a little bit grindy as I had to grind lower leveled foes to pick up more meat.


My other nitpicks with this game are inconveniences and stuff it didn’t need. I like how there is a perish button so that you may end fights quickly in exchange to being taken back to the Afterlife, but I don’t like how there isn’t a flea option. Meaning if I’m deep into an area and get screwed over I have to walt's all the way back. I hate how to fast travel I have to sink into pink liquid, get transported to the Afterlife, either walk up some stairs or bounce on a trampoline, select my destination, and then sink into some liquid again to get there. Rather than just be able to travel there instantly without having to sit through so many loading screens and processes. The game certainly did not need platforming sections, because it doesn’t do a good job telling you what you can and cannot stand on top of. Final complaint is that Hylics 2 is a good game, but it is rough around certain edges. Movement doesn’t feel good, but it’s an RPG Maker game so what did I expect? There are occasional framerate drops, loading failure, and your companions phase out of reality as whenever you walk into a new area, they warp back onto screen out of nowhere.


Besides these complaints I still strongly recommend Hylics 2. While it may not be a good video game to play at times, the visuals and coolness of the game make it a chill title to appreciate. You just have to appreciate what it is rather than what it could have been instead, because remember that obscure art is better than generic art. The game took me around ten hours to beat, which is a good time range, and it costs around fifteen dollars making it highly affordable. It runs smoothly even on cheaper PCs and even though the game was rough I didn’t experience any crashes. In the end I am going to give Hylics 2 a 9/10 for excellence at best.


9/10, Excellence

This critique was written by the single man at Review on. Stay tuned for more content and feel free to check more reviews out over at my site!

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