[UPDATE] The Game has been fully funded via Kickstarter, and is coming in 2021. Follow the Developer for Updates.
I always love when game developers have a firm grasp on the story they are telling along with a team that can bring that vision to life. Then there are those who can do it all themselves, as is the case with Jeremy Noghani’s Small Saga. I’m not here to shower praise or describe in detail the game. I’m here to talk about where this game shines – Its Atmosphere.
A game about rats doesn’t sound fun. Unless that rat is Hamtaro, technically not a rat but you get my point. Now don’t let the rats turn you away, I initially played this game because I just wanted to play something, and the pixel art looked pretty good. It was a in-the-moment decision. In first few minutes of the game, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary. It had your nice fancy pixel cut scene, some dialog boxes between the protagonists, a decent soundtrack, and reminded me of an old school Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) game.
However, once you reach the demo’s first boss and defeat him, the game takes a huge and massive narrative turn. The boss mentions a Yellow God in Heaven. After this point in the demo, you basically go on rails. Everything is choreographed, its like watching a movie, but it is fantastic.
The game quickly builds up a sense of awe, as you realize the modern setting of the world these rats are inhabiting. Some good banter between the protagonists quickly establishes additional character details and traits.
Where the atmosphere in Small Saga really starts to shine, is were you finally get to see the Yellow God in Heaven. It is a person in a hazmat suit, most likely a pest control individual. From this point in the game, you are exposed to quick actions.
There is a great use of suspense and the stakes are raised high almost instantly. Running for your life through a grocery store isle, as you are caught in mouse trap, your friend valiantly sacrifices himself to buy you some time, as you are forced to cut your own tail out of the trap – scampering to freedom.
This short sequence of events, paired with its environmental changes, the music, the raised stakes and the eventual dead of your ally makes this part of the demo feel so personal and engaging. It helped, that the game forced me to attack my own tail to get out. This sequence really did it for me. I did not expect that level cinematography from a 2D pixel art sequence, but I am glad I experienced it.
The game ends with your character, now embolden by his trauma, taking on a cat in a kitchen, armed with the mini-boss’s weapon from the start of the game.
The game does a lot of really small things well, and it allows the atmosphere of the game to build up. The cinematography for these scenes were incredibly. Even if I was not sold on this idea of this game or its characters, the sheer weight of its atmosphere and story telling was fantastic and drew me as the demo concluded.
I am properly excited for what is to come for these characters.
Right now, the game is on Kickstarter, I recommend you play the demo yourself, and back the Kickstarter if you can.