October 27th, 2012 | By Dominic Tarason
To this day, I don’t think I’ve quite recovered from playing TheCatamites‘ Space Funeral. I was pushed further into instability by Murder Dog 4, and recently just plain confused by The Pleasuredomes of Kubla Khan. Now, he’s back and abusing the RPG genre in ways that boggle the mind, so I’m even more confused than ever. Loving every moment of it, of course. Welcome to Goblet Grotto.
In what seems to be a parody of old-school dungeon crawls, you play as a Frog Knight, who battles malnutrition and crushing depression on his quest to go into catacombs, find goblets, talk to Goblets (something else entirely), kill things with his Kill Button (and axe) and eat many meats. An impressive feat, because frogs do not have teeth, at least as far as I’m aware. I don’t know – I’m not a frogologist. The controls are pretty simple, although the deliberately off-center camera makes things a little tricky to reliably navigate the hastily scrawled world. Just try talking to or praying at everything. That seems to make the Frog a little less depressed.
Unlike the surprisingly casual and relaxing Space Funeral, this one seems to be a little more hardcore. At least, it’s pretty easy to die. Whether there’s a way to even beat the game, I don’t know – I just know that I’m having fun exploring these wonky, poorly drawn catacombs, falling off into Dog Cities and trying to wrap my head around the utterly demented stream-of-conciousness dialogue. Included with the game is the ‘HOW TO WIN AT GOBLET GROTTO’ guidebook, which may or may not make the experience even more confusing. Either way, it’s worth reading. In a nod to the very first CRPGs and the system memory constraints they were working with, a lot of of flavour text for locations and characters it tucked away in there.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen the powerful and flexible Unity engine abused quite as badly as in this game. The whole thing feels like my vague recollections of first-generation 3D-accelerated games, but with all the angles slightly wrong. I’m bombarded by constant squawking noises reminiscent of Captain Blood, and the whole thing feels like it’s held together with duct-tape (possibly plasticine) and positive thoughts. The camera clips through walls, sprites flicker and warp, potentially descriptive text flashes on-screen and away again before you could possibly respond and enemies will sneak up on you without waning, leaving you flailing wildly. It’s pretty much what you’d expect, having seen the screenshots.
Goblet Grotto is full of strange and brilliant details, like how your character is constantly talking to himself, but in a pictographic language that makes no sense until you read the manual/guidebook. Granted, even after you’ve read the lengthy translation guide you’ll probably still have no idea what he’s babbling on about anyway, but at least you’ll know the symbol for ‘blood’. Which he repeats a lot. The whole experience feels very dreamlike, as if someone tried to recreate an old-school RPG while sleepwalking. You should probably play this (it’s for both PC and Mac). Also, dogs will lie to you, so kill them and make them into meat.