Hidden Wonders

Gaming

Pseudoregalia


Published:

Table of Contents

Introduction[#]


Pseudoregalia is the best game I’ve played this year. It’s a 3D platformer metroidvania with a Hollow Knight healing mechanic, Dark Souls 1 tier level layout, and a distinctly retro atmosphere.

I’m too lazy to take screenshots of the game, so I’ll link to timestamps in videos on Youtube (which I recommend you access via Invidious, of course).

(Digression) You play as a weird goat-furry-lady——I’m not into it, but the developer at least added an accessibility option to make her wear pants. It’s the developer’s creation, so I’m glad he’s doing whatever the hell he wants with the game——if that’s adding in furries, then I’m okay with that as long as the game is fun. This is the only negative thing I have to say about this game.

Trapped in a Dream[#]


Let me set the stage: you start up the game and see this, the player character floating in a black void surrounded by twinkling lights. You start the game, proceeding cautiously through the winding corridors of the tutorial area——a maze in its own right. Tutorial complete, you enter Castle Sansa, greeted by this droning, beautiful, mysterious piece of music as the game world gradually begins to open up its secrets to the player.

“It feels like a dream” was my instant thought. And indeed, the whole game feels like a dream——it is fleeting. Through the gameplay, the music, and the level design, the player is pulled into a dream world, trapped there by sprawling environments and expressive platforming. I can’t quite describe it well enough——the ability of games to feel as Pseudoregalia feels is proof that games can be art.

This tone develops throughout the game depending on area. The Underbelly, for instance, feels more like a nightmare, with its claustrophobic tunnels, dark lighting, and distressing soundtrack. The theme and level design of Sansa Keep feels dark and oppressive; on the other end of the spectrum, the Twilight Theater and the Empty Bailey feel open and free. The ability of Pseudoregalia to perfectly blend music, visuals, level design, and gameplay into a single cohesive feeling is precisely what makes the game stick in my head so much that I had to write this article.

Trapped in a Game[#]


I got incredibly lost playing this game. The different areas are so intertwined they (almost) put Dark Souls 1 to shame. Everything connects to everywhere, it’s so easy to get lost. In my playthrough, I completely forgot how to get to the Underbelly while looking for the final key, and it took me like an hour of wandering before I found my way forward. There are also secret walls in this game that (I believe) you are required to find in order to proceed. Thus, many people have complained that the game needs a map (which is supposedly going to be added to the game by the developer).

However, I think the game is perfect as is, without a map. Getting lost in all these areas without having any idea where the hell you’re going contributes to that feeling of being lost in a dream. Also, the movement in this game is so much fun that I didn’t even really mind being lost——the first game I can say that about since I played Hollow Knight.

ENDING SPOILERS[#]


The ending is the perfect complement for the transient, dreamy tone the game maintains throughout. After finding and obtaining the 5 major keys, you proceed to fight the final boss. Once beat, you are greeted by this short dialog segment. It’s an excellent way to end the game: a distant promise that someday her dream will end, at the end of this dream-of-a-game. I refer to this more in the conclusion of the article.

I should mention as well: the final boss is an amazing fight! It makes perfect use of the vast 3D movement capabilities the game offers while also drawing on soulslike mechanics. I beat it on my first try, but unfortunately my Xbox controller’s left joystick fell apart mid-fight! There are only two boss fights in the game, and that last fight makes me wish there were more fights.

</spoiler>

Gameplay[#]


I guess I should talk about what the gameplay is like too, at least a little bit.

My one negative on the gameplay: the enemies, while unique and varied at first, are the same in all areas of the game, which gets repetitive pretty quickly. If this game was any longer, it would become a serious problem.

Unlimited Power, Unlimited Freedom[#]


The power-ups you unlock in Pseudoregalia all feel so meaningful it’s incredible.

What’s especially amazing is how each and every power-up comes with it a steep learning curve; they’re all easy to use, difficult to master.

There are a lot of difficult to pull off moves in Pseudoregalia that are required only for getting power-ups. The super-hop is foremost of these, as it required the player to go for a long jump and then simultaneously flick the joystick backwards and jump at the exact impact on the ground. In the early game even, there is a flip and miniature hop that is a bit difficult to pull off but can allow for the player to progress through the areas in a different order.

Earlier, I described the movement in this game as “expressive” and anyone reading this probably wondered what the hell that even meant. Here’s what I meant: because the level design is so good, Pseudoregalia’s gameplay makes the player feel like anything is possible, that any ledge can be reached from any other ledge with the correct, perfect execution of movement abilities. In this sense, Pseudoregalia captures the magic of the 3D Mario games such as Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Odyssey.

Conclusion[#]


Pseudoregalia is a game like no other I’ve played. It takes so many aspects of different games I’ve considered some of my favorites——3D Mario games, Hollow Knight, Dark Souls——and creates something new and exciting out of it. I’m excited for more games like it, and wish I’d played it earlier.

I also feel for the message of this game. These past several years have felt a lot like a dream for me. That subtle message that we will be able to awaken from our dreams someday and focus on the things that matter to us is reassuring. It’s like we’re in a stasis, fashioning ourselves, in silence, into something new.


Home Top


Site Licensing Site last updated: 2024-06-08