Every time I saw the booth for The Weaponographist there were three things in common: first, I couldn’t do anything but chuckle at the silly name. Second, Danny the developer was helping people play and offering commentary and talking to everyone around—he’s a really nice gent. And thirdly, it was full.
You see, Danny Garfield (one of the developers) from Puuba did something very interesting for his game. He put up a challenge: the best three times clearing the demo would get free games at the end of the day! When I spoke to him and tried my hand at the title a few times, I couldn’t beat even the lowest of record, while the guy next to me had already broken his own like four times. In fact, he came back the second and third day and did the same! By then he was playing at ludicrous speed!
The title came from a brainstorming session. Danny tells the story and I will paraphrase it as I didn’t have a recorder on me at the time: “So, me and Dave, the other full-time member of the team, were talking about t and throwing out names. At some point, I just said ‘The Weaponographist!” and he gave me a look and said ‘What does that even mean?’ I started thinking ‘He…draws…weapons? He draws weapons! Yes! That’s it!’ And the name stuck!”
The Weaponographist tells the story of Doug McGrave, famed demonslayer-for-hire. When he’s passing by a town, a Witch asks for his helps against a demon incursion but because she can’t pay his high fee, he refuses…so she curses him. The only way to lift the curse is to save the town. The problem is the curse itself. Everything he holds turns to dust eventually, from his weapons to his gold and even his experience level.
Because of this, the currency you use in-game is “Goop,” a weird secretion left by monsters. It’s not that it’s currency in the town but it’s what they’re willing to take from you in form of payment and as proof of your demon hunting. It ties nicely into the plot while still being completely disgusting! You’ll use Good to upgrade your basic combat skills by weapon categories, so that you get more out of your weapons next time you use them. You can also—Danny mentions—have someone lift bits of your curse, lowering the speed at which everything degrades.
The game handles a lot like the classic game Smash TV, a run-and-gun. You go through square rooms filled with enemies and once cleared you go on to the next until you reach the boss. At the start, you only have your fists as weapons but killing enemies will sometimes make them drop theirs for you to pick up. But be careful, because of the curse all weapons in your hands will degrade over time. Every attack drops the weapon’s durability by a given amount. It’s actually quite interesting how you need to strategically pick up items and make the most out of them before picking up another. Some weapons are much more powerful than others and will have fewer hit points. You can carry a main weapon and secondary ones, which tend to have very little health, but on the other hand, they’re pretty powerful. My favourite was Dog Collar because with it I left flaming patches on the ground wherever I went. It was so cool!
The demo only had the first stage of the game, a few rooms with random enemies and a badass T-Rex boss with pulsar cannons, but the enemy variety was clear right from the start. I must have fought over 20 unique enemies in that short demo, from Satyrs throwing their horns as boomerangs to mobsters with Tommy Guns, and it’s so much fun you won’t care about the anachronisms or the weird creatures. It’s just top-down killing fun!
I did mention to Danny it would be awesome if the bosses dropped weapons, similar to Dark Souls’ Boss Soul Weapons and he gave me a bit of a bewildered look and said, “That is actually an awesome idea…I think we can add that!” Good to know I could have some positive effect there.
The most interesting aspect of it all, for me, is the Combo System. Killing enemies starts up a combo, and the longer it goes, the higher your stats are. This is because your Combo is actually your character level, constantly degrading, so you need to keep it up with kills so it doesn’t go away. If it does (as it will at the start of every new run) then you’re back at level 1.
Danny describes the game as being Rogue-light. There is the death and upgrade mechanic we see in many rogue-likes but you don’t lose the character.
From a development standpoint I was curious about the game’s engine, thinking it would be another Unity title, but Danny surprised me by telling me the entire thing had been done in Java. They built their own engine and made the entire game for it, which is always awesome when you consider how small the team is: two developers/designers and about 4-5 artists working freelance.
The Weaponographist is coming out very soon. The demo hits in 3 weeks on Steam and the full release three weeks after that! For those of us who attended the event and played at the booth, there were flyers with an early access code to the demo. And you can bet your ass I’ll be streaming it soon to show you all just how fun this game is!