Patchwork heroes: A retrospective
It is true that there are plenty of obscure titles on the psp but being a first party game I expected Patchwork to be a bit more acknowledged.Apparently Patchwork was inspired by Qix an arcade game from the 80’s which involved drawing out geometrical shapes without touching a rotating light ball. Incidentally it was quite popular and spawned numerous sequels. While this was good and all, puzzle games do not excite me much and Patchwork Heroes’ inspiration did not quite sell me on it. However after watching a few (of the painfully scarce) gameplay videos on YouTube I finally decided to buy it off the psn store (the game is download only) mainly because it was cheap and I found the art style unique (I am a sucker for games with distinctive visuals). I must admit that I did not expect much from Patchwork Heroes and it was a long time before I came about to actually play it, but it proved to be one of the most enjoyable experiences that I have had on the psp.
The premise of Patchwork Heroes is simple.Titori the hero must save his town from the onslaught of the enemy airships however it seems that the people of the town have no weapons ,peaceful farmers as they are, so they find an ingenious way to accomplish their goal. They resolve to
cut slice the enemy ships in the air. Titori with a group of four villagers and his courageous pilot Totonel sets out on this unenviable task. Armed with nothing but a trusty saw and a metal shield he must destroy the enemy airships in the sky before they have a chance to attack their town. The gameplay revolves around two major objectives
- Destroy the ship(Duh!)
- (Optional)Rescue the prisoners
Enemy battleships form the battleground. A substantial part of the time is spent in trying to figure out ways to hack it. As such it was imperative that the design and architecture of the aircraft was well thought out by the developers. Thankfully it was. The battleships are colorful and vast, although how they manage to fly is beyond me. Parts of the vessel are made out of material that can be easily cut by a saw, these are separated by areas that are reinforced by metal which render the saw useless. Such areas are usually the joints that hold the parts of the ship together. To destroy them you need bombs. A bomb can be placed by one of the citizens that Totori takes on this quest, however once he places the bomb he absconds the battle ground jumping off the ship with a parachute. By placing bombs at key locations a large chunk of ship can be destroyed quickly at the cost of the members of your squad.Would you preserve your squad? Or would you aim to destroy the ship as quickly as possible? At several points in the game you will find yourself making such tactical decisions. Rescuing the prisoner comes in handy each prisoner you rescue is basically an additional bomb in your inventory.Although it might get difficult during the later stages due to limited time and large ships .
Successfully cutting off a portion of the ship earns you mojo.Once your mojo bar is full you can unleash a super mode where Titoris speed of cutting is greatly increased and you can cut through metal too. Super mode should be used very judiciously as it is rare that you will get to use it twice on the same stage. In addition there are power ups scattered on the ship. They give certain useful abilities like stopping time or instant mojo bar fill. All of this requires a careful study of the playing field and forming a line of action to take destroy a ship efficiently.
The aircraft is not completely defenseless either .The enemy insects! patrol the ship and touching them means you lose one of your citizens. Lose all and it will take one hit to kill you. The repair bots constantly scan for damages to the ship and repair if they find any. They are usually innocuous but can get very frustrating especially when they repair the metallic joints (the best way to deal with them is to hack off the area where they operate) .
The introductory stages are easy and it won’t involve much thought to clear them however it will soon become apparent that mindlessly hacking away small pieces of ships won’t get you anywhere .Later stages could require several retires and it becomes imperative to identify weak spots and exploit them to make any progress.
All of the stages can be retried to better your score or to rescue citizens that might have been left the first time around. Besides that the game gives you an option to look at the bios of all the citizens that have been rescued.This is where the game truly shines, the colorful townspeople add a lot of character to the game. Each citizen is unique and has a pastoral charm to him/her that is both funny and endearing. Sample a bio of one of the prisoners that Totori rescues during the course of the game :
“Junger has served Asli hand and foot since her birth but tends to bungle things. He is a bit odd for the whole aristocrat bachelor thing and hopes for an arranged marriage.”
Or a certain Higanae
“Higanae was a fisherman but he could not swim, so he gave it up and joined the squad, only to find he has acrophobia. Now he wants to become a farmer, only he forgets his fear of insects.”
The game also gives an option to visit the graveyard where Totori is grimly reminded of his failures to save his comrades. The section has no music and manages to create a serene atmosphere that is both peaceful and haunting. This article would be incomplete if a special mention is not made of the music in the game. As with visuals the music in the game is very unique,it has an oriental flavour to it. Needless to say it fits in with the games’ art style perfectly.
Patchwork heroes masterfully mixes humor with pain and loss of war but never adopts a condescending tone or preaches a magnanimous path.The gameplay is a singular blend of action and puzzle elements. The one thing that makes this game stand out is its cast of characters. It is hard not to remember them long after you have completed the game. If you have not done it already you should definitely get this game. It is cheap, full of humor and packed with content.In case any of you are wondering the game is playable on the Vita (gasp!) and is available on the psn store under the psp section.
- On December 20, 2012