Here’s a patchwork tapestry of interesting genres. Get your PC-compatible joypads ready as you take on this ‘twin stick collect-a-mania bullet hell dungeon crawler’ with rogue-lite elements. It sounds chaotic, and it is, but it works. Imagine threads from the Enter the Gungeon, Forager, Undermine, and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon weaved into something new and stylish, and you’ll get the idea.
You take on the role of an explorer, sent by a guild to chart new lands, find treasures, and create field notes of the flora and fauna within the world by collecting patches. This is achieved by catching and taming wild creatures and using their unique abilities to aid you in battle, as well as negate environmental effects as you explore hazardous terrains.
Each run starts by picking a direction to head out of your base and picking a power-up. The world of Patchlantis is unlocked gradually as you enter each new map tile. Though the map and the biomes found don’t shuffle after each run, the “patches” do, so the contents of each tile changes keeping things fresh each time.
Each biome has a number of monsters to catch and tame, which is done by lassoing and running a circle around them. They become your mount, and the key to progress in Patch Quest is to utilise the best mount for the biome you’re in.
Picking power-ups and mixing bullet brews with the fruit around the patches provides plenty of firepower and enhancements you may not live without.
I really enjoy Patch Quest, and it is easily the sort of game you can sink considerable time into without realising it or meaning to. I spent plenty of time following one route, collecting what would hopefully be awesome power-ups, and studying my map to plan where I might try to explore next.
There is always something to keep you on your toes, whether it’s the monsters increasing in power every few tiles, or your helpful backpack hinting there might be something worth finding if you explore a little further… survivability depending. Question marks on the map could be historical relics, a biome boss, or shrines with treasure (and monsters) hidden deep within.
There is also lots here to keep players engaged, like developing your monsters through battling – the stronger the monsters, the better specimens they make, and they have better abilities. You can also send one of them back to your base each run and recall up to five of them to assist you on your next adventure. Every mushroom, tree and bush counts as a patch, so it pays to explore and keep pushing if you want to complete your collection.
And of course, there would be no point to the exploration without plenty of shinnies to find – from rare patches to shrine relics.
Patch Quest is a fun time sink, with a surprising amount of layers, and a crazy mixture of influences that it has used to create an interesting and engaging experience. Even the sound design is cool, with satisfying sound effects when you pull off critical hits and burst attacks, and the music changes depending on which mount you’re riding. The way the enemies scale up every few newly explored tiles creates a slick difficulty curve to stay one step ahead of, and until you have unlocked every passive upgrade and patch there will always be a vulnerability or something to work towards.
With new updates planned, Patch Quest is likely to be fun for some time yet. The launch day update will shed some light on Patchlantis’ history. Was it previously inhabited? And by whom? Why was it abandoned? We just may find out, and I’m also eager to see what the future holds.
Developed by Lychee Game Labs and published by Curve Games, Patch Quest leaves Steam early access on March 2nd.