Hazelnut Bastille is a game with an odd name and a seemingly bright future ahead of it. Visually gorgeous and packed with thoughtfully designed mechanics, puzzles, and items; the game is currently in development by Aloft Studio and available for support on Kickstarter here:
For readers who grew up in the era of Gameboy, Sega Genesis, and Super NES the 16-bit art styling will trigger instant nostalgia. In particular, the game’s world design borrows heavily from some of the best elements in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and turning them into wholly original areas to explore. Movement, interaction with objects, boss battles, all feel very familiar if you’ve played that iteration of the Zelda series. Elements of other classics can be felt throughout the game too. The character artwork feels very in the vein of Dragon Quest, and the games soundtrack was assisted by Hiroki Kikuta, the lead composer for The Secret of Mana.
From the studio:
“Hazelnut Bastille is the story of a young woman who has just arrived on the shores of a savage, foreign land for the first time. She casts a haunted figure, and has come to seek the fabled knowledge of a race of long-dead ancients on the edge of the world, in hopes of finding a way to reclaim something which was lost to her. Along the way, she meets the other inhabitants of this undiscovered country: a band of castouts and pariahs from the old world, all seeking to make a new life in a place far away from their old troubles. Her story will become entangled with theirs, as they each lean on one another for their own needs, and slowly she will get to know exactly who each of these strange bedfellows are, and what they have themselves run from in their old lives.
The world itself is like a character in the story in its own sense, and the first one you will meet. At times seemingly inviting, it is also offers ample resistance to exploration into new domains. The player will have to find ways to expand their range to new regions in an ever-widening expanse. Sometimes they may be inhibited by hard barriers, and other times only by the barrier of their own resolve. They will gradually find new ways to traverse this world, however, so while the world gets ever bigger, they will acquire abilities and shortcuts which get them to where they want to go at a rate which offsets the expanding map. The world is subdivided into a number of regions which have their own local traits and stories as well. The accretion of history over the ages is written all over the land like a book to be read.”
Created in the Unity environment, the game uses the same 16×16-grid style for level design of the era, while removing some of the limitations, such as clearly defined level boarders which required loading the next block of the map before allowing you to move. In Hazelnut Bastille, moving along a path keeps a portion of what’s behind you still in view, resulting in very smooth exploration.
The game play itself is founded in a mixture of exploration, puzzle solving, combat, and item management. Reportedly, as the player progresses throughout the story the difficulty of puzzles will increase as concepts introduced in early stages begin to appear together, resulting in challenges that may require you to use 5 or more at a time. Reading that as someone who has rushed through a few item/ability tutorials in my day, I was momentarily concerned I might find myself frustrated and unable to solve something late game due to my impatience. However, the developers have stated that the mental tools needed for solving most of them will be reinforced throughout the entirety of the game, eliminating that fear.
As of the writing of this article, Hazelnut Bastille has almost doubled it’s original funding goals and unlocked a number of “stretch goals” including language localization and some additional content. One of the most interesting goals hit however, is the development of a version for the Nintendo Switch. With the game so reminiscent of classic top down, 16bit adventure games, having it available to play on a handheld system just feels right.
For those interested, you can play a free demo of the game online right now which contains an estimated 2-3 hours of content including dungeons, item quests, boss fights and more. Not to mention that this demo is entirely independent of the actual game, so if you spend a full 3 hours playing and absolutely love it you will have the entire game to look forward to, unspoiled.
You can be sure that we here at GG will be watching this game closely throughout the remainder of its development and will be eagerly awaiting the release. While no release date is currently set, we will be sure to posts an update when new information becomes available!
Hazlenut Bastille, coming to soon to these platforms
All images are the property of their original owner(s) and used for review purposes only.