Everything I was experiencing was telling me to press on. Gurumin is heavy handed up front, teaching you abilities in a safe environment, NPC interaction steeped in late 90’s, early aughts art and dialogue layer on upbeat attitude and general warmth. 3 hours in I feel like I’ve been given some breathing room. I was worried, riding on encouragement from Bill Swartz himself (cool) and a few other sources that praised the game’s depth and general fun, and then it happened, I was putting a village back together.
Through a tunnel between two houses in the town is a door that leads to a hidden monster village in need. Tied to this hub like domicile collection are the levels you complete to progress, i.e., find lost monsters, couches, boomboxes. The flow is nice, between finding things in the town and unlocking new courses to master. It hit me how the dual existence works the first time I found one of the monsters in the goody shop stealing cookies, “getting fat.” They’ve always been there living with the people. There is a sense of place in that not all of the areas you unlock are full blown levels, but like side areas with secrets of their own. The first couple feel like there should be more to them though, maybe later, there is backtracking as you progress.
Backtracking sends you into the world further in search of a mole-brother to help get thru a thick wall. I realize I’m collecting characters, helping the mole-brother get where he is headed. Between interacting with these characters out in the wild and the monsters that are collecting back at the village, Gurumin feels very much under way, instead of being trapped in instruction-land where breakable walls are obvious and there are literal rails directing your path. Having gotten this far I equipped the gas mask past the huge stone (thanks to the mole-brother) to save me some HP. Contrasted against Parin’s otherwise cute stature, the gas mask adds a touch of terror, like a starving baby in a bird flu mask.
I like Gurumin the more I play it. The comic-y art is growing on me, combat is more detailed than I thought. Its coming out on 3ds, hmm…