A spoiler-free introduction to the main gameplay mechanics.
Day and Night
The story of Pseudo and the Boy unfolds during the day. At night, Pseudo dreams and adventures through a warped version of the world, haunted by challenging creatures.
There are two ways to switch between day and night or night and day:
- You can change the time by interacting with the tent at one of your campsites
- Or, as daytime Pseudo, you get knocked out (zero health) in combat: this will automatically switch the time to night and give you control of his dream alter ego. Avenge Pseudo, then wake him up to switch back to daytime and resume your progression. It’s a nice second chance to prevent a game over.
The ritual and shops aren’t available at night. In other words, anybody you meet at night is hostile!
Playing at night is required to destroy the thorn walls blocking your path during the day. The night avatar is able to sneak through these walls to venture beyond. You will need to find and defeat the candle-headed Thorn Guardian in order to burn down the associated thorn wall. You can then switch back to daytime and resume your exploration with Pseudo.
At the start of the game you can choose a stance from a selection of three. You’ll get opportunities to learn other stances by travelling. Each stance represents a playstyle: Slash deals area attacks, Boxing is well rounded, Spear offers a longer reach, Mammoth is slow and powerful, Lightning chains quick attacks…
Additional stances and special attacks can be unlocked at totems. Totems will have you duel against a powerful enemy, which is why it’s a good idea to build up your attack bar before interacting with a totem.
Stances and special attacks can be equipped at campsite dummies and right after completing a totem challenge.
The attack bar, or rage meter in other games, is located in the bottom left corner of the screen. It’s filled by simply hitting enemies. When the bar is full you can enter the first person mode against a single target. The other enemies will move back and let you have a nice duel. If you manage to keep punching the enemy without taking any hits, you’ll autiomatically execute a finisher move: a spectacular and high-damage attack.
Pressing the parry button (see the control schemes available in the options) just before an enemy attack would hit you will stop it and build up your attack bar. Note that you can parry melee attacks and missile attacks.
Warning: enemies can also parry your attacks! They will learn your patterns and parry your attacks if you repeat them too often.
Dodge and Directional Attacks
Pressing the dodge button will make you move back quickly. Pressing the dodge button plus a direction will make you move quickly in the chosen direction.
Launching a basic attack right after a dodge will trigger a directional attack. There’s a wide array of directional attacks, defined by your current combat stance and your dodge direction.
There seems to be an automatic soft lock system which helps the player targetting the current enemy. A hard lock is also available with a long press of the right joystick.
Like 2D versus fighting games, you can cancel an attack into another by launching the second attack as soon as the first attack has hit the enemy. When mastered, this mechanic allows to hit more often and to be more reactive to the opponent’s moves.
The stamina gauge is located in the upper left corner of the screen. Stamina is spent by launching attacks and replenishes with time. As long as you have some stamina left, you benefit from a 50% damage resistance and a partial knockback resistance. When your stamina runs out, be careful: you’ll take full damage and knockback if you’re hit.
Your maximum amount of stamina is tied to your Constitution attribute. Level up this attribute to increase it!
There are four attributes:
- Power (red): grants additional damage and stun to all special attacks and all combat stance attacks (excluding weapon attacks for instance)
- Endurance (blue): improves the stamina guard. Also improve some special attacks and some combat stances attacks.
- Aggressiveness (purple): builds the attack bar faster, in order to trigger the first person view and its associated finishers more often. Also improve some special attacks and some combat stances attacks.
- Constitution (green): provides damage resistance and stun resistance
After levelling up, you can spend skill points to upgrade these attributes at a campsite dummy.
To find out which stances and special attacks are affected by which attributes, look at the color bar below the damage and stun details. Above we can see that the Rising Punch is greated improved by Aggressiveness (purple), while the Spin Kick is mostly improved by Power (red).
Figurines can be collected by exploring the world. When visiting a figurine burner, you can then spend them to improve your combat stances and special attacks.
A Figurine Burner
The more figurines you have spent on a combat stance or special attack, the more effective it is, but the more costly it becomes to improve it further. You will need figurines in higher amounts and/or of higher quality.
Crafting, Brewing, Trading
When exploring the world in daytime, Pseudo and the Boy can find materials through several means: picking them up from the ground or from containers, fighting opponents for loot, and having the Boy scavenge narrow lairs.
Weapons and Armors
Moozhaw, a travelling merchant, will trade weapons and armor pieces for the right components. He’ll have different items to trade depending on his location.
Weapons, either one-handed or two-handed, can be equipped and unequipped from the inventory. When equipped, they replace your standard unarmed attacks with wide swings offering better reach, damage and stun. Weapons have a limited durability and will eventually break down, so my advice is to save them for tougher fights.
Armor pieces on the other hand never break down. They grant some welcome passive stat bonuses such as +3 Constitution. There are three armor slots: torso, arms and legs.
Organic ingredients such as honey, flowers, butterflies and frogs can be brewed into potions at your campsite cauldron.
Potions have two benefits: they restore some of your health and may grant a temporary boost to an attribute, depending on the ingredients used. Try to combine ingredients with the same icon to get the associated benefit.
If your flask is empty and you visit a cauldron without brewing, your flask will be refilled with water, which will restore a small amount of health when consumed.
There seems to be a way to carry several flasks but I haven’t found it so far.
Before engaging intelligent enemies (animals and Corwids not included), you can play a dice game called “the ritual” or “the only law”. The goal is to apply a consequence of your choice to the following battle, such as summoning an ally or forcing the opponent to drink poison.
It’s pretty simple: choose a consequence artifact, roll your dice, then stab tchaks on the board to destroy dice or modify their value. After both parties have used up their tchaks, the player with the highest dice score wins the game and applies his consequence artifact.
From what I’ve seen, there are dozens of consequence artifacts to be found in the world.
Tchaks need to be placed in your ritual belt in the inventory. Tchaks can impact either a single dice, all dice in a circle, all dice in a line, or some other combination. Try not to hit your own dice!
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