Zelda-Inspired Game Hopes To Be Different Every Time You Play

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A Legend-of-Zelda-like game where you get to explore a different world each time you play? Sounds too good to be true. That, however, is exactly what Songbringer is trying to do (emphasis on trying).


Songbringer's pitch sounds like something retrieved from the dusty libraries of my childhood dreams. I mean, listen to this:

"What if each time you played The Legend of Zelda it was a different world with unique secrets and mysteriously new dungeons? Songbringer is a Zelda-like action-adventure-RPG in which you can explore over 300 million unique worlds overflowing with recently awakened demons, virus androids and other sullied creatures. Along the way you will uncover long lost devices and combine them into powerful artifacts. If you are skilled with the nanosword you will vanquish giants and save a planet from being overrun."


Millions of unique worlds? Zelda-style exploration, combat, and puzzling? Be still, my beating heart. Wait, no, I need you for living. Please do not stop beating under any circumstance, ever.

But OK, how will this extremely ambitious game actually work? Well, the randomization, at least, sounds quite doable (and pretty cool):

"You choose a 6-letter world seed every time you begin a new quest. This seed is used to procedurally generate the planet, overworld, secrets and dungeons. As a player, you can choose to enter a unique seed and play an entirely surprising world. Or you can enter a seed you are familiar with and can rip through at a speed run pace. Maybe you are going for the global record?"

"Lore, cooperation and competition can be shared between you and friends because entering the same world code will always generate the same world. While the events of Songbringer take place on a single planet, if a sequel game is produced, the same world seed can be used to continue into a wider galaxy based on that seed!"

That sounds rad. And you can find unique and useful items, which can be combined to make better items. Worlds will also be ridden with secrets, so expect to use the ol' Legend of Zelda bomb-the-cracked-wall/floor/whatever trick frequently, wringing your hands in anticipation of someone else's trash soon to be your treasure.

Now, however, is the part where I bomb all your built-up hopes with my misgivings. The Legend of Zelda series is so good because its worlds and dungeons are handcrafted with absurd care. The amount of careful consideration that goes into each one is almost obscene. The pacing of dungeons, the slow accumulation of items, the way they're used on increasingly complex puzzles, the sheer exhilaration of emerging from an hours-long dungeon, back into the light of day. I'm not saying you need to have all those things to make a good Zelda (or Zelda-like), but I don't think anyone would disagree with my assertion that craft is key. Even if Songbringer's random generation is some of the best video games have ever seen (unlikely), I doubt it will hold a candle to a proper Zelda world.


Perhaps, though, Songbringer's creator is going for dungeons more akin to, say, The Binding of Isaac (less finely sculpted puzzles and items, more unpredictable encounters), paired with a random-genned overworld. I could see that working. At this point, though, it's tough to say.

Songbringer is doing the rounds on Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter, because it's a PC game being developed in the year 2015. If all goes according to plan, it will enter beta by the end of the year and then release in full a couple months after that. That is good news, as I desperately wish to know why the main character is rocking a no-shirt/top hat combo. Maybe he's secretly Abraham Lincoln, back from an unjust grave to fuck shit up. Or maybe he just hates shirts and loves weaponized hats. Beats me.


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To contact the author of this post, write to nathan.grayson@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter @vahn16.

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Kuili J8i9

I find it truly amazing that all these zelda wannabe games consistently fail to capture what made Zelda, Zelda. And that has included the original creators of Zelda since Twilight Princess...

I wouldn't characterize this game as zelda anything, it's just another indie hack/slash game mobfest, with aimless "exploration". YAWN!