“If you created a weapon, wouldn’t you want to know what happened to it?” It’s a question that may not have naturally sprung to mind but spears the creative vision behind the hammering conclusion to LEVEL-5’s experimental Guild01 series.
Born from the imaginative mind of Japanese comedian Yoshiyuki Hirai, the answer comes in the form of Nintendo eShop release Weapon Shop de Omasse. Seeing players placed behind the scorching blaze of a blacksmith’s forge, rather than out adventuring themselves, this genre-twisting idea packs plenty of potential but doesn’t quite strike true in its execution.
In any RPG ensuring that you have strong enough weaponry and equipment is a given, and in Omasse’s world of Cliche it is widely known that the blacksmith in which you find yourself working crafts the best. As eager apprentice Yuhan, you must listen to the requests of wannabe adventurers and NPCs that come through your door, to then create and provide weapons that will suit the needs for the individual quests that they are to embark upon.
This all serves a far larger purpose, of course, with the world having become threatened by the return of the Evil Lord, the regulars visiting your shop looking to hone their skills so they can banish him from whence he came. Under the watchful guidance of master blacksmith Oyaji, the shop runs a unique scheme. Customers rent such weapons from you and will only pay if they are successful on such quests, although if they fail they will scarper before meeting their untimely end and you will lose whatever you gave them.
Players can trace each quest’s progress through the Grindcast, a live feed that parodies social media services such as Facebook and Twitter, with customers regularly providing updates as to what they’re up to, as well as enemies that they have encountered.
As can be expected, when not conversing with customers much of your time will be spent whacking heated metal at your anvil to expand your stock. Forging weapons is relatively easy, seeing you choose from your available materials to grant special bonuses to whichever you are looking to create, before hammering it into shape.
This is the Omasse’s core gameplay concept, a call and response rhythm-based affair where players repeat patterns as they strike away at the hot metal to shape it to their desire. You must keep your eye on a temperature meter to make sure that it doesn’t cool before you’ve finished, whilst maintaining a steady rhythm is important to chain your strikes. This affects the weapon’s attributes – across Slash, Pierce and Blunt damage – so precision is key for those wanting to manufacture the very best for their clientele. Although, you are penalised for repeatedly striking in or near the same location, which becomes an increasing frustration as it isn’t entirely clear as to why you lose chains on a regular occasion.
There’s a growing catalogue of weapons to choose from as you progress, differed by level which in turn affects the difficulty of forging them. Their statistics can be heightened by polishing them, a simple exercise that sees you using the stylus to rub along their length and across all sides, which also becomes a necessity for you to reissue any weapons that are returned to you.
Where the experience falls down is in repetition. Seeing the classic RPG from the perspective of a blacksmith inhabiting such world was the aim here, but you’re continually slaving over a forge throughout in an attempt to keep yourself entertained. The end of each day even seeing you graded on how many you create, although this goes against the small handful of customers that wander through your door, presenting criteria that seem ill-placed.
But it is the humour, presumably influenced by Hirai, that prevails throughout, whether that be energetic French flair of L’invincible Sir Jean Jacques Jardeaux, or the tenacity of Grandma Snow who comes out of retirement to search for her husband. With canned laughter and applause, this is a unique comedy through and through. It’s just a shame that it soon reveals itself to be all style and no substance.