Paper Animal RPG is a solo-developed roguelike RPG inspired by Paper Mario and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon that is currently funded on Kickstarter.
The solo-developer Cuddling Raccoon Studies recently started a Kickstarter campaign for its first game, Paper Animal RPG. The RPG with the same name combines a surprising number of genres and warmly nostalgic elements in a pixelated paper-craft setting. Ahead of its anticipated September 2023 release, backers of the Kickstarter campaign can still purchase the game for €15.
Game Rant talked to Azurexis, commonly known as Nick, about how the casual mode and positive feelings of Paper Animal RPG helped to define the cosier side of the roguelike genre. Fans of Paper Mario and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games should keep an eye on Paper Animal RPG, but it may also appeal to those seeking a change of pace from grimdark and difficult roguelikes.
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Favourite Genres Combining in Paper Animal RPG
Azurexis' project is a labour of passion, as are many solitary devs' creations, thus it makes sense that he would mix two of his favourite genres.
"The wholesome genre, if you can call it that, is nice and welcome, but the roguelike genre is full of mysteries and obstacles. In general, I really like both genres. Since I haven't encountered many games that combine these two ideas, I reasoned that it would be a good idea to do so."
Given the situation of the world today, cosy games, which act as powerful and comforting environments for players, have grown in popularity, according to Azurexis. It may seem counterintuitive, but fusing the repetitive, high-stakes adventure of a roguelike with a homey, comfortable title is a fresh strategy. If the approach works, it may be a breath of new air in a genre that sometimes feels stiflingly dark and cluttered.
The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Paper Mario and the Thousand-Year Door, One Step from Eden, and Nuclear Throne are just a few of the titles specifically mentioned on Paper Animal RPG's Kickstarter as sources of inspiration. While Paper Mario's aesthetic is clearly present in the game's aesthetics, Octopath Traveler was also mentioned by Azurexis as an influence for the use of sprite art in 3D environments. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon serves as inspiration for the game's procedural dungeon navigation.
The Debate Over Casual Mode
Although terrible, perpetual-death difficulty was the original defining feature of the roguelike genre, the genre has since expanded. However, Azure is wasn't sure if Paper Animal RPG should have an easy mode.
"Since I believe that one of the biggest thrills of playing a roguelike is uncovering game content that can only be discovered if you played well, I debated for a very long time whether I should include a Casual Mode. Technically, since you don't have to play as well as you would ordinarily, you could "cheat" yourself out of that secret game content by using a Casual Mode."
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In the end, Azurexis chose a common compromise in game development: locking some content behind harsher difficulty settings while letting the largest audience possible play the majority of the game on an easy setting. Even while gamers will always want games that are really difficult, game accessibility has become more of top concern for creators, and Paper Animal RPG is no different.
The Delicious Multiplayer of Paper Animal RPG
One more unexpected inspiration comes from Paper Animal RPG: Elden Ring. A hidden region in Paper Animal RPG is modelled after the player message system in Elden Ring and the gifting system in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon. Players can access the Elder Tree, an online-only location, where they can send gifts to other players with their names and a brief message attached by spending their hard-earned XP.
This technique is the best way to promote warmth in an online community, even though it probably won't spawn as many memes as Elden Ring has. Each player encounter is certain to have some positivity because each one comes with a beneficial present. However, some players may find ways to send each other cheeky remarks