Freeplay Express: FamazeApril 7, 2015
[Freeplay Express is all about spending as little money as possible on gaming. And by that we mean spending absolutely nothing on games. Freeplay Express is a place where we showcase a game that requires no upfront cost to you, the gamer, and as few microtransactions as possible to get the most out of your experience (ideally, no microtransactions). So sit back, relax, and prepare to learn about amazing games that cost you nothing except your time to enjoy.]
I’m a sucker for games with throwback graphics, which is why Famaze caught my attention for the first edition of Freeplay Express. Some people may think the concept is overused, but not me. The more games with 16-bit era style graphics the better, because let’s face it, the SNES was one of the best systems ever (sorry Genesis fans). But if you can’t look past your own 16-bit prejudice to enjoy this whimsical little dungeon crawler from Oryx Design Lab, then you’re sorely missing out.
Famaze is a game that anyone can pick up and play for about 15 minutes at a time, get bored with it, put it down for a few days, then pick up back up. Rinse and repeat. And that’s just fine because the game itself doesn’t really require a large amount of dedication to complete each level. Plus, each dungeon you visit is randomly generated, meaning no two playthroughs are the same. I’ll admit that I was a bit disheartened after my first 30 minutes into the game when I got bored and shut it down. But the game felt somehow fresh a few days later when I booted it back up. When all I need sometimes is a quick gaming fix in between real-world responsibilities, Famaze is there to oblige.
In the world of Famaze, an evil king is searching for the perfect recipe for rutabaga pudding (…yum?) and in his quest has turned all happy rutabagas into monsters. Your job is to find the recipe first, collecting treasure and freeing as many happy rutabagas along the way as possible. You can choose to be a brave Knight (high HP), a cunning Thief (disables traps), or the wise Wizard (detects items and gold) on your journey, and each requires a different bit of strategy when tackling the dungeons full of spiders, ghosts, and goblins (among other baddies).
Traversing the dungeons for gold and keys to the next level can be treacherous. You have to be careful of deadly traps as well as confronting enemies given your limited hit points. Each battle works on a simultaneously turn format. Every time you attack an enemy, they also attack you, and each hit does one HP of damage (unless critical). With your hero starting with as few as 6 hit points at the beginning, avoiding enemies can sometimes be your best course of action. The best way to dispatch of Famaze‘s many enemies is by lighting beacons scattered throughout each level. If an enemy is in the range of a beacon’s light, they will turn back into happy and harmless rutabagas for collecting (to make into pudding, I assume). It’s a simple formula, but it can turn challenging quickly if you become cocky and reckless, so be mindful of your HP.
Apart from the gameplay and silly (albeit cute) premise, Famaze also features a modest soundtrack. While absent for most of the game, it’s sure to tickle your nostalgia bone when it kicks in. Most of the music is heard when you collect a key to unlock a new dungeon, and after experiencing the still quiet permeating most of your adventure, the stylings of Disasterpeace will make you feel not only accomplished but eager to find the next key.
While the game won’t take longer than a few solid hours of crawling to collect tons of gold and find all the hidden artifacts, it’s a great distraction for 15-30 minutes at a time. If your wallet is empty and your time is consumed by non-gaming life events, then Famaze is a great fit for you. It’s definitely staying in my Steam library for little adventures between paying bills and making money to pay bills.