New release: Mercury

Here’s another interesting one: Mercury by James and Frank Lantz is a roguelike that imposes a strict turn limit on the player; the only way to get more turns is to descend a floor. It is, in other words, a sort of abstracted form of the time pressure imposed by the need for food, but with less benefit to exploring the current floor.

Even more interesting, however, is the fact that Mercury both scores you upon death and provides a tangible reward for topping the leaderboards. Players with high scores get to design items, monsters, and other content for the next iteration of the game. It takes the open source attitude that underlies so many roguelikes, then funnels it into a competitive structure. The developer writes:

As players play the game, they earn multipliers from boss monsters on each floor which multiply every point they earn in the game. Additionally, clearing any individual level of monsters results in a board clear, giving the player a huge amount of bonus points.So that’s one way that Mercury stands out from other roguelikes. But the truly experimental part of Mercury is that all the game’s content is winner-generated. That means that the game starts out barren. One class for players to play, one monster to fight, and one item to use. But every round, the top two scoring players use a tool built into the game to make a monster, item or class and then that object is automatically inserted into everyone’s game, and players fight for new high scores in an entirely different game every round. In short, I just designed the thing. It’s going to be the community that really makes it.

Mercury is free: download it for Windows or Mac.

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