RPGs tend to follow a pretty standard progression path: you start off as a weakling, but over time you gain levels and gradually climb up the power curve, eventually becoming a badass. But what if none of that lasted? What if any time you spent away from the monster-slaying game meant a reduction in stats and gear? That’s the quandry that Doug McGrave faces in The Weaponographist.
Doug’s a famous, well-known hero. He’s got the weapons, the skills…and a nasty attitude problem. So when a small village witch comes to him asking for help with a monster infestation, but mentions that the village can’t pay, he laughs in her face. Bad move, Doug. Our hero gets the ever-living crap cursed out of him – now he has to help the village or spend the rest of his days as a weaponless, penniless, skill-less weakling.
If Doug wants his heroic status back, he’s got to save the village. His steely gaze and chiseled chin can only go so far against the nasties in the dungeon, though Instead, you’ll have to rely on his fists of fury as well as the many, many weapons that are on hand for use. The curse placed on Doug, though, means that any weapons he gets his heroic mitts on will rapidly fall to pieces – meaning that you’ve got a durablity meter that goes down with use and you can expect all of your weaponry to be temporary. This also means that while Doug gains experience and levels by slaying foes, any time not spent actively helping the village – by killing more foes, of course – means a reduction in power, so your experience meter drains over time and you’ll need to keep killing to keep leveling.
At least if your weapons are going to break you’ve got a diverse arsenal to replace them with! Doug can use all manner of armaments, from swords to bows to tommy guns to magic staves. None of these will be sticking around, of course, and a big part of the gameplay in The Weaponographist is being able to adapt to whatever you’re given. The other big part, of course, is going fast. Never stop killing. Doug’s power, as mentioned, drains anytime you aren’t actively smashing a monster to bits, and it’s not like you’ll run out of monsters anytime soon…
That’s not to say that nothing is permanent and everything changes in Doug’s world. It’s possible to purchase permanent upgrades using goop – not cash, naturally, since Doug’s curse means he can’t hold any. Vendors in town offer bonuses like slight reductions to the curse’s effects, which play out as bonuses to Doug’s combo rate and durablity, and improved stats for weapons and spells. One vendor will let you release power-up chests into the dungeon and collect them later, which just might give you an edge against the baddies.
Combat can feel a little strange at first, particularly since Doug’s attacks don’t feel like they have a lot of impact on the baddies, but sticking with The Weaponographist is rewarding. The extensive range of weapons, spells and upgrades on offer give the game some longevity, and the art style and presentation make for an enjoyable experience. This isn’t a game that’s going to change your heroic outlook on the gaming landscape, but there’s nothing wrong with spending a few hours with Doug McGrave.