Part 1: Well This is a Fine Mess...
"Oh Gods, my everything..."
Our hero wakes up flat on his face, alone in a ruined civilization. I'll take a moment to explain what we're looking at. Starting from the top left we have our equipped weapon and armor. We have a weapon, but it's not equipped. You can see it in the center of the screen as our usable item. The 30 next to it is how many more uses it has before it breaks. In the right hand corner we have a compass and the level indicator, while the hand says that we're going to attempt to interact with anything we press the action button. The other alternative is to examine things, which is useful more than you would think. Finally, the blue bar is our HP and the red bar is our MP.
Directly in front of us are two chests, one of which isn't going to be any help at all. The other one has a spare Short Sword for us. The Short Sword gives us 2 attack power, although I'll get into how that works in a bit. Turning around we also have a chest with 300 gold. The only way to get gold in this game is to find it in a chest or get it by selling items.
Stepping over the trigger we saw in the screenshot above, we're introduced to the use of levers to open doors. Right now we're facing east, where we were facing north before. Navigation in Brandish defaults to using the left and right keys on the control pad to rotate the camera while the forward and back buttons move Varik. It can get a bit disorienting until you're used to it.
"Sentenced? Aww man, am I in jail again?"
This mark on the wall represents a weak spot. We'll get back to that in a minute, but these aren't uncommon. You do, however, have to be facing gin the right direction to see them.
"AHH! What kind of nightmare place has wasps the size of your torso flying around in it?"
Our first enemy. They're fast and evasive little shits who like to just fly right through you, stinging on the way. A good sword swing will kill them, but you have to actually hit them.
Moving on, the start button brings up the mini-map screen. The map autofills, but only puts in walls when you actually touch them. Empty squares are doorways, the red dots are chests, and the big glowing dot is us. Pressing the right d-pad key from the map brings us to the status screen.
Starting at level 1, Varik gains HP and MP by leveling. Luck relates to certain items and how often you've been hit lately, while Attack Strength and Defense strength are derived statistics. Attack strength is the sum of your arm strength and your equipped weapon, while defense strength comes from all of your armor and shield values. Arm Strength represents exactly what it sounds like, and will gradually level up when you swing your sword. Knowledge is trained by using magic (which we won't get for a few levels), and magic endurance requires you to get hit by magical attacks and survive them. Later on, we'll probably want to take steps to train magic endurance in order to survive powerful magic using bosses. Gold is well, gold. 1300G sounds like a lot, but it really isn't.
Next we have the config screen, which is a bit of a lifesaver at times. Game speed affects how quickly enemies move around and attack, so if you're having trouble you can slow the game down to effectively decrease the difficulty. We can change our color palette around a bit, but I like the default well enough. The most important part is the L/R Key assignment. Right now we're set to "rotate" but in some situations lateral is much more useful. When that is switched on, left and right will sidestep you without rotating the camera.
"Oh no. A pit. I hope I do not fall into it. Sheesh, what do they think I am, an idiot?"
" yep, I'm an idiot."
Falling into a pit takes a good chunk of your health, and you can't really do anything in the pit except for jumping out. Some pits will lead to a basement or a lower floor, but for the most part this is the only result. The jump key is kind of important, however, as it allows you to jump straight up to get out of pits or to jump forward and skip over a square in the floor.
This is a good example of where that's necessary. The floor panel behind us opens up the door we just passed through (the one next to the pit) while the one in front would close the door ahead of us. The solution isn't hard, unless you don't know what all the buttons do which is quite likely, since this game comes from the time before mandatory tutorials.
"Oh, a goblin! Finally, something normal. Not that it's going to slow me down from murdering you in the slightest."
Our first weapon using enemies is pretty underwhelming. They're tougher than the wasps, but otherwise unremarkable. They'll stand and trade blows with you, which isn't going to end well for them.
"And slimes, too. They went all out with this place."
Slimes are probably most dangerous to the elderly, small children, and household pets. Otherwise, they're disposable nuisances.
"Oh man I didn't know how thirsty I was until I saw this!"
Springs restore HP if you drink from them. Great for leveling up and building skills.
"Did the monsters actually put a sign on that door? I know what a moon on a door means, but "
It's actually a magic shop. Unfortunately, we're a LONG way from being able to afford anything in here 1300G really is small change. On the other hand, this is the first actual human being we've seen down here!
"Nothing! I've never seen as much money in my life as you want for some of these things. Wait, what do you mean another customer?"
"Same thing happened to you, eh? You just woke up and found yourself here, right? Well, join the crowd."
"It's a pretty small crowd. About the other customer?"
"Just a little while ago some lady was in here. What an outfit she had on! She said she was looking' fer a fella. She musta meant you."
"That sounds familiar wait, what did she say about me?"
"Wait, you sold spells to that psycho? That's pretty irresponsible."
"I got no idea what's gone on between the two of you, but I would apologize right awe. It'll be too late after she's burned you to a crisp. Hah, hah, hah. That's a joke son, don't you get it?"
"I'd find it a lot funnier if it weren't about me getting SET ON FIRE!"
"This whole world is just one big ball of energy and excitement. Almost anything can happen! And it usually does "
"That's great. I'm going to go out and try not to die, if that's okay with you."
"Well, you heard enough from this old lady, be off with you now and be careful!"
"I think I know what's behind this door and it's much more my speed."
"Although not in my price range. What is wrong with you people, do you think money grows on trees?"
"Don't be silly. No trees down here, are there?"
"Wait, is that a sledgehammer?"
"If you say so, but I don't think monsters really care if you open your mouth or not."
"Take me, for instance. I kill time by collecting weapons for sale. And I've made quite a nice profit off newcomers like you."
"But what can you spend it on?"
"Wait, have you been drinking?"
"I'm just trying' to help you out. The key is to accept your fate and live with it. Home is where the heart is, or so I always say."
"If you're heart's here in this wreck, you're welcome to it."
One more shop to investigate!
The tool shop is a lot more affordable. That said, they're probably not worth actually spending money on unless you're in dire need.
"Do you realize you're the 42nd person to come to my store? Feel like I've been here forever. Guess I must look like Death itself. Hee hee her "
"So do I win a prize? Or are you actually Death come to take me?"
"Well, don't look so scaed there now. For goodness sakes, I'm just a poor old lady who's been down here too long. But I've learned a lot. Let me share a secret with you."
"Oh yeah, I've got something else you might find useful. They're just ordinary steel balls."
"Oh, I've already got a set of those."
"But since there are so many pits and holes around here, you can use these to check the area in front of you."
"So I did win a prize! Thanks a lot!"
We actually walked out of there with a 10 use sledgehammer and 20 steel balls. With that, it's time to go back and explore a few areas that we couldn't before.
Occasionally you'll see little indicators like this on the floor...
Which the steel balls will reveal to be pits. Not all pit traps are marked, but it's rare for a spot on the floor to actually be nothing.
Unfortunately, all three chests here are locked. Backtracking is a definite thing in this game which is complicated by the fact that enemies will respawn given time.
"I'm not sure where they're going with this but I don't fear the reaper, since she gave me a hammer and some steel balls."
"Finally! I'm just glad they didn't think to put these in a locked chest."
We've got enough keys to open up all of the chests we've found on this floor plus a few things we probably haven't found yet. Gold Bars are the main selling item to get gold, and are worth a base of 1000 gold each. Selling them in bulk will provide a slight increase in price, but it's not really worth hoarding them.
The three chests here have healing potion, 300 more gold pieces, and and a much needed Short Sword.
Sometimes levers aren't nearly as obvious about what door they're opening. This leads to fun games of "pull the lever and try to see which locked door opened" later on.
Eventually we reach a new level. This game isn't much for the numbers porn, but I'll probably put up shots before we actually face bosses. Since leveling up only really raises HP and MP, it's not going to dramatically change our stats. I don't recall what I spent 500 gold on, but Varik at level 2 isn't very much of a change at all.
Further exploration leads to a couple of more chests with a total of 400 gold pieces. Every little bit counts but really, you shouldn't be spending gold on weapons or consumables in Brandish, since you'll find plenty of those along the way. Looking at my screen you can see that my sword has shattered and not been replaced. That's okay, because punching things to death just makes you build up strength faster. This will lead to humor later on.
"Huh. This would have been nice I don't know, a couple of hours ago?"
Doors can also be locked and need a key, with this using up our last key. The number of keys you're given tends to be just enough to get you through the floor where you find them which isn't a problem, as there aren't many ways to screw yourself our of proceeding.
Sometimes you find chests that have already been emptied, which is a nice kick directly in the nuts. There's a simple explanation for this...
"Damn you Alexis! You'll pay for this!"
Finally, we reach the end of the first floor. In some ways this feels like one of the longest floors, but really that's just a matter of learning the game.
Next time: New enemies, new treasure, new keys, and our first magic!