The end is nigh! The cataclysm is almost upon the world, and only you can save us! But you have to venture out into the wilds, become a hero, and help the people. Maybe you can prepare for the end of all things, after all...

Artifact Adventure Gaiden, sequel of Artifact Adventure (which we wrote about here) lets you explore its open world and do some good while completing quests and beating up all kinds of monsters in side-scrolling, slightly chaotic battles.

In these fast-paced bouts, you basically cause damage by running into your foes with your equipped weapon while dodging their charges or projectiles. This all feels like a somewhat messy but fun reference to The Legend of Zelda II. (Speaking of references: the game looks like a long lost Gameboy title.)

Even though you're on your own on the battlefield, you can actually take a bunch of followers with you. These bestow some passive advantages upon you and come with their unique quest lines. Completing those quests is optional, but you might be rewarded with some of the game's wonderous artifacts which greatly help you on your travels - and you'll need all the help you can get for the coming Cataclysm.

Once you have explored the world enough, you can return to the castle to await the end of the world. The game then skips three years and you can either start the final battle or once again journey out into the world to see what differences your actions have made.

You see, everything you did actually has consequences, and the world you're about to go and save has been shaped by you. It's a clever little trick to actually make you care about these generic fantasy lands - and it works.

You can purchase Artifact Adventure Gaiden from Playism or Steam for $9.99.