Hermit and Pig is a cozy, mushroom-obsessed RPG with a twist
It would be incredibly easy to typecast Hermit and Pig as yet another indie project aping from the beloved works of Shigesato Itoi; but from our first look at the game during our recent visit to Day of the Devs 2023, Heavy Lunch Studio's debut title is shaping up with promise, and personally I'm excited to see more.
Our demo session was a rather simple affair - Hermit, alongside his best pal Pig, wake up in their shack in the woods, ready to start their new day. We were put in Hermit's shoes as the pair completed their daily chores - cleaning up the outhouse, checking on their laundry, and finally scrounging up enough Golden Mushrooms for their breakfast. All the while navigating the woods, fighting the local wildlife, and generally having a great time. Visually, it's impossible to miss that the game is going for an artstyle with a similar vibe to EarthBound - and never is this more obvious than during combat.
Entering the Combat Dimension, you're greeted with a scene straight out of EarthBound or Mother 3; though, battles themselves come with a unique twist that you'll quickly become acquainted with. You see, while you have the standard options of attacking, consulting your handbook, using an item or fleeing - there's a timed component to your actions. Off to the right, you'll find a bar counting down until the enemy will act, and ocassionally an additional marker to denote when you can time your attacks to deal extra damage. Defending you'll also be able to time your action to increase the effectiveness if you correctly time your input.
By far Hermit and Pig's greatest deviation from its inspirations comes in the form of how your actual attacks are chosen. Each of Hermit's attacks have a button combination associated with them, much akin to Sabin from Final Fantasy VI. Certain enemies will be weak to specific attacks - such as a Turtle boss we encountered during our demo, who takes increased damage from Stomp - and similar to Fantasian, occasionally you'll have to time your inputs to target an enemy's weak point while it is exposed.
We only had a brief hands-on with the game, but what we managed to play showcased a charming take on the RPG genre, that's more than just content at following its inspirations. Seeing all the unique descriptions of how enemies react to being defeated was a highlight of my session with the game, and got a chuckle out of me every time I finished up a battle. I can't wait to see just how many the full game might have, and I was glad to let the devs know that the humor landed - at least for me.
That being said, I did leave the demo with one rather major complaint; the font. I understand what the developers are going for, with a pixel font that adheres to the rest of the game's artstyle, but at least on the giant TV kiosk I played it on the font was a nightmare to decipher, and actually hurt my eyes a little. I'd imagine it will look much better on a smaller screen, or sitting farther away from the display during a normal play session - but I'm sure there's still room for improvement before the game launches next year for PC. Here's hoping the game can manage to stand out from the absolute crowd of RPGs releasing in 2024!