hmc.jpgIt's not often that an RPG starts off with no opening cutscene. Nor is it common for the main character to be unable to read anything, or have a roommate whose only functions seem to be to tell her not to go to the only place available to her, then provide breakfast when she is defeated in battle and wakes up back in their hut. But in Helen's Mysterious Castle, that's exactly what happens. Helen can't read, brutally crushes pots even in her own home, and takes off to explore the castle to the north with bow in hand. There she'll find other weapons, and the array of weapons she ends up with and how she uses them is what makes the game interesting.

Each of the weapons Helen finds has three stats: effect, which is how much damage it does, defense, which is how much damage Helen can block while holding it, and wait, which is how many turns or ticks of time it takes for the weapon's attack to go off once Helen chooses it. Enemies' attacks have the same stats, and attacks on both sides can have other effects such as piercing and stun for a set number of ticks. Every time Helen gets an attack off, the player is given the option to choose the next weapon they'll use, given information on the stats for the attack the enemy is currently preparing to use.

It's not a complicated system, but it's one of constant choice. As the player learns what attacks enemies have up their sleeve, they can calculate the risks of using this weapon or that one. Experience gained goes straight to leveling up the weapons, increasing attack and/or defense, or lowering wait time, depending on the weapon. The castle itself is pretty straightforward at first, but a few floors in it has branching paths, and since the player is never really penalized for death, it's very much a game about enjoying exploration and the parry and thrust of combat.

Helen's Mysterious Castle by SATSU is available for $1.99 via Playism and Steam.