If you read other articles about Fear & Hunger, you would know that it is a really grim and dark world, where the world friendship does not exist. Between the many creepy and twisted enemies, with disfigured and mutated bodies, Pocketcat is just a human figure with a cat head. At first glance, he looks goofy and out of the content, a character ready for a cartoon, not for a sadistic and horror RPG. But as often as in real life, sometimes appearances are wrong.
Pocketcat is one of the merchants in Fear & Hunger, and it will establish its shop in the depths of the mines. After interacting with the player, Pocketcat will say how happy it is and how much life is beautiful. Living in the depths of a prison, with people tortured and mutilated, its positive view of life is definitively out-of-place. Pocketcat sells interesting artifacts: a powerful sword, a book that allows saving once everywhere, and the Necronomicron! Strangely enough, you cannot buy anything with gold in its shop. Because the Pocketcat is using another coin.
In the most normal and joyful way, Pocketcat will exchange its powerful artifacts for… human children. The cartoon-ish and joyful character is, in reality, a sort of children predator, a mischievous creature exchanging items for kids. Even one of the main characters could be exchanged in this way, as in other evil deals (for more info check my article in Evil Quests section: Fear & Hunger: the many ways to permanently sacrifice the Girl [Evil Quests]). Who or what is the Pocketcat? It is not only a merchant enslaving of kids for who knows which disgusting purpose, but also a more ancient and evil being.
By asking information about the Pocketcat to the New Gods, the player will know that the Pocketcat is a Trickster associated with the ancestral Moon God. The Moon God is hidden and mysterious in Fear & Hunger, but it looks like that will be more integrated into the plot of the sequel: Termina. Anyway, the Pocketcat is clearly something more ancient and powerful than a sick and deviated merchant. The origins of the mysterious Pocketcat are also revealed inside a book, apparently telling a sort of fairytale.
The book tells the story of a child called Willem, ignoring his mother’s warning going to play in the woods during a rainy day. But as his mother says, rainy days bring problems to children. The Pocketcat suddenly emerges from the bushes, stalking the kid till home, with its big glowing eyes. When safe at home, the boy will find a parcel addressed to him, with a mouse printed on it and catnip inside. He was marked as prey from the Pocketcat. In a picture from the book, the creature is unnaturally tall, “twice as tall as Willem’s father would be.” The hidden nature of sexual predator of this entity is even more highlighted in the book, since “its hand was moving swiftly inside its pocket while the two big yellow eyes glee’d inside a burlap bag in great excitement.” Maybe this is why it is called the pocket-cat.
The player can also witness the true boogeyman’s nature of the Pocketcat. During a dreamlike flashback, the player will visit a town before the madness started to spread, a more peaceful compared to the insanity of the dungeon. However, in the darkness of an empty corridor, a kid is running, maybe scared of the darkness behind him. There is no time to do anything since something will drag the kid in the darkness. Before everything gets silent again, the distorted smiling face of the Pocketcat will briefly appear in the darkness.
A boogeyman, a servant of an ancient God, a slaver, and a merchant, the Pocketcat is all these things, and probably more. An ancient being who hides its true evilness behind a cartoon-ish facade, playing its own game with very mysterious rules. Another disturbing character in the grim world of Fear & Hunger.
Saving anywhere is a luxury of modern game, but it was never really common in old-school JRPGs, for example. Having fixed save-points would of course make the game harder by planning good the gaming sessions, putting a lot of care in your strategy to survive till the next save, or else you would be cursed to repeat entire sections. Some games push this even further, almost to a masochistic level. Permadeath is surely the worst case, erasing your save files after dying. Other games will also try different strategies. For example, Fear & Hunger will try really hard to make your journey a nightmare.
The save point for the first half of the game is a bed hidden inside a cell. If at the beginning this will look like a lucky event, after saving for the first time, the situation will get worse. Each tentative of saving has 50% possibilities of triggering a deadly fight against a really tough boss: the Crow Mauler. The abomination has the head of a crow, with a really exalted expression, on top of a muscled human body. The left arm is fused with a spiked mace, which of course is used as his main weapon. Official lore of the game describe the Crow Mauler as something that “was set on purifying the dungeon from filth and deprivement”. This deadly creature will easily wreck an unprepared party, and it is one of the most difficult bosses of the game. But only by defeating the Crow Mauler, the player will be able to use the save point without any more worries.
However, the fight is a real challenge, and surviving without casualties or deadly injuries is an almost impossible dream. Because the Crow has several nasty surprises to show to the player, so many ways to kill or mutilate the characters. The huge mace is for sure the main source of damage of the Crow Mauler. This scourge can inflict an insane amount of damages, and can easily kill a character with a couple of blows. Each attack has also a really high probability of breaking bones, a negative status effect which will permanently reduce the maximum HPs of a character. Without any possibility of healing it for the rest of the game. Also his arm-mace has an insane amount of HP, making practicality a waste of turn trying to cut it. But if you think that this is the most deadly attack, you are terribly wrong.
The Crow Mauler’s beak is not there as a simple animal vestige, but it is in fast his most dangerous weapon. The beak has a really high probability of hitting a character, resulting in… an instant death. With a single attack the Crow can one shot whichever character, by pecking away his head in a gory geyser of blood. Let’s also remember that as any mutilation, death in Fear & Hunger is permanent. So even if you can finally kill the Crow, there is a critically high probability of losing at least one character.
Sadly for the players, death and broken bones are not the only permanent statuses that the Crow Mauler can inflict. The creature can summon a flock of crows to strike the eyes of the main character. The damage is pretty ridiculous, but a mysterious symbol of an eye-patch will appear as status, while a threatening message will also describe how the flock of crows clawed your eyes. But, apparently, there are no consequences of this attack and the battle can continue as usual. Let’s imagine that, after a tough fight the player, manages to defeat the Crow. The moment after the battle, the screen will be completely black. The character can still move and examine, but in the absolute darkness. Could this be a bug? Of course no, the main character was blinded by the crows, and there is no way to revert this, since has any other mutilation in the game thus is also permanent. The only way to prevent this status is by wearing a complete helmet. There is absolutely no way of playing the game with this affliction, so the only way is to load a save to try again to fight the Crow Mauler. After a tough fight and an impossible win, the last sarcastic joke of the Crow Mauler is to let you believe that you won, while without eyes, this is just another burning defeat, even if the monster is dead.
Also if one Crow Mauler is not enough, the very late game has an unpleasant surprise. The last secret dungeon, and also the most difficult level of the game, hides several pits, which will throw the party in an organic basement. If falling in this viscid and damaging underworld was not enough as punishment, this place is also the hunting ground of a two-headed Crow Mauler. Even a well prepared party will find its hell in this fight, since double heads means also double beaks.
The Crow Mauler is a deadly adversary, and a sadistic trap for unprepared players. He will strike you when you least expect it, when you feel that finally you found a resting place where to Save. Every tentative against this monster is a breathless challenge, hoping to defeat it quickly, before having casualties or losing the eyes. The Crow Mauler embodies the atmosphere of Fear & Hunger, a dark, hopeless and unfair world.
Fear & Hunger is probably one of the most dark and disturbing RPGs ever made (check my review fir more details: Fear & Hunger Review: a journey in a land without morality for the darkest RPG ever made). The game lacks any morality, and every action falls in a gray or in a completely black zone. Between the many questionable actions and deeds, the fate reserved to “the Girl”, one of the most important and mysterious characters, is particularly disturbing.
The Girl is found imprisoned in a cage in the entrance of the dungeon. Unable to clearly speak and to explain anything, she can be anyway set free. She will then join the party following the main character around. She is practically useless in combat, and will die pretty easily. However, there is a secret behind the existence of the Girl, and only by bringing her to the very heart of the dungeon, it will be revealed. This is not an easy task, even because the game will try to trick the player several times into sacrificing the Girl. Because in the dark world of Fear & Hunger, sacrifices are a powerful currency. And the Girl is one of the most precious coins, so it is not a surprise that many entities will lurk for her soul.
Even without being tricked by a mysterious creature, the player can even simply decide to sacrifice the girl at any offering circle, common spots scattered around the dungeon. The magical circles allow the main character to gain trust with powerful and ancient Gods by performing different rituals. For example, sacrificing one of the party member is one of them. The Girl is the best sacrifice to increase your loyalty with the dark god, unlocking new spells and abilities. Of course the Girl will permanently die, after being sacrificed in a violent and cruel way. In a grim world where party members can be sacrificed to obtain new skills, the Girl could be sacrificed just few minutes after obtaining her, at the very beginning of the game. By doing this, for a cheap but immediate reward, the player will be locked out from one of the endings.
Being sacrificed to please an ancient god is not the worst fate reserved to the Girl. There are other far more grotesque creatures desiring to simply devour her. An example of this is the disturbing Human Hydra, a creature born from the fear and the despair of all the guards of the prison, which tried an horrible ritual to save themselves (you can read my extensive analysis about the Human Hydra character on Surreal and Creepy). The grotesque abomination is hungry, and of course he wants that the player bring him food. What food would eat this horrible creature? Of course the meat of a young girl. The player could think to offer the girl in sacrifice to this monster, hoping in who knows which powerful and rare reward. The Girl is useless in combat, and the Human Hydra looks like a giant and terrible being, so why not?
This time the sacrifice is even more disturbing than the previous one. The Girl will be swallowed by the grotesque mass. She will try to fight back, trying to escape from this suffocating mass, trying to swim out of his body. But the more she tries to escape, the more the creature will absorb her. Till she disappears in the body of the Human Hydra, accompanied by disgusting squishy sounds. The reward of the player for such evil deed? Simply nothing, since the Human Hydra is a dumb and useless being, regardless of his terrifying appearance. Never trust a character in the dark world of Fear & Hunger.
Talking about creepy and mysterious characters, the Pocketcat will surely be on top of the list. This creature, with the head of a cat, acts as merchant hidden inside the mines. He appears to be always extremely happy and full of life, often in a really disturbing and inappropriate way, especially since the world is now a place of evilness and madness. His shop offers really powerful and unique items, from ancient tomes, to powerful enchanted swords. But of course, the Pocketcat is not looking for gold. The only way to obtain one of his items is to offer him the Girl. Because he clearly says that he will accept only “children” as currency. The background of the mysterious Pocketcat can be discovered later by reading books or in specific flashbacks. He is an ancient and powerful being, acting as a sort of Boogeyman in the world of Fear & Hunger, predating on children and trying to kidnap them. At least, compared to the Human Hydra, this time the deal has a reward. The Girl will also not die, and she will not being gruesomely devoured in front of the player. But maybe her fate is even worse this time.
The Girl will appear for the rest of the game behind the Pocketcat. However, she will refuse to speak with the player anymore. Her eyes are full of sadness, highlighting that something truly bad happened to her. Her body is intact this time, but her mind is broken. As always, instead, the Pocketcat is super happy and full of life. According to his own words, he is really enjoying the deal. Whatever this is implying, it is something clearly not nice for the Girl.
There is one last entity that will ask the Girl in exchange for something. Hidden in the depth of a tomb, behind a complex puzzle, and existing only in another reality, the Lady of Moon will make her appearance from a pit full of green light. She is an ancient deity, appearing as a complex mix of female faces fused together in a jellyfish-like body.
The creature is not aggressive, even if she will talk to the player during a battle. The Lady posses powers beyond imagination, typical of an ancient being. However, she can be easily defeat in combat with one single slash. But she has a better deal to offer, of course in exchange of the Girl. She will completely heal the party, but she will also bring away the Girl forever, dragging her in another reality. In Fear & Hunger, this full heal is not a simple matter of regenerating HP, but it is the most unique and complete form of healing available. During the journey, the characters could permanently lose eyes, multiple limbs, or they could being injured with fractures. All these status effects are permanent, and the deal with the Lady of Moon is the only way in the game to heal them. It is not clear what will be the fate of the Girl after accepting this deal, since she will simply vanish with the mysterious Lady of Moon.
Fear & Hunger is a really dark and macabre RPG, which offers really interesting a questionable moral choices. Party characters, especially the Girl, can be used as bargain for really evil deals. But not always this is the best choice, because in this dark dungeon, the player cannot trust anyone.
Appearance: Uterus are yellow mannequins swarming through the past version of the ancient city of the Gods. They are all female automata, moving with clumsy and slow gestures. The yellow body is altered by a white skeleton-like structure, especially in the torso, making them look similar to anatomy mannequins. Their breasts are exposed, while the pants are broken, highlighting the sexual nature behind the creation of these creatures. Their yellow skin is strong as iron, impossible to remove and really difficult to damage. But the most creepy detail regarding Uterus lies exactly in their abdomens. A small creature called Embryo lies peacefully in a hole in the belly. Each new turn during the combat, the Embryo will fall, grow, and will crawl toward the party (as you can see in each sliding picture). Before attacking, the Embryo will resemble more a big and fat infant, or a dwarf, but for sure is very far from a harmless baby.
Background: Valteil was a human who ascended to the role of New God of Enlightenment. He was obsessed with creating artificial life using different methods, giving life to set of automata with different functions in the Ancient City. For example, Uterus was the one designed to satisfy Valteil’s sexual desire. According to the official lore of the game, every night Valteil summoned a different Uterus to his room, for obvious purposes. It is entirely possible that the Embryo was born from the relationship between a God, Valteil, and an artificial creature, the Uterus. Probably, the true experiment behind the existence of Uterus, also judging from the name, was to generate new life from an artificial body.
Regarding the fight itself, Uterus is a very peculiar and twisted battle. While moving in the map, Uterus is really slow and easy to avoid. Also during the fight, many times Uterus would simply waste her turn to “dislocate the joints”, making only a disturbing sound. When attacking, Uterus uses her rusty claws to inflict very few damages, but usually causing infecting wound, which could lead to lost a limb due to the infection. The real treat behind the Uterus fight is the existence of the Embryo, combined with an insane amount of HPs. If the arms of the Uterus are easy to cut, making her virtually harmless, the creature will continue to fight even without a head. When the Embryo will start to crawl on the battlefield, a creepy and pressuring invisible timer will crawl inside the player’s mind. What this horrible thing will do? How many turns before it will do something? Each new turn, the Embryo will get closer, while crying in a terrifying and disturbing way. Both Uterus and Embryo have a really huge amount of HPs, making them almost impossible to kill early-on in the game. After an intense crying, the Embryo attack will surprisingly not damage the bodies, but will directly harm the mind of the characters, inflicting a huge damage. A simple attack of the Embryo could send a character completely crazy. Uterus is a really interesting and creepy creature, with an intense fight based on concluding it really quickly to avoid going insane. Uterus is an enemy that is better to avoid.
Fear & Hunger (F&H) is a dark and mature RPG, with a strong horror and survival component. The grim world of F&H is definitely a mature experience, dealing with strong topics to create one of the most dark fantasy experiences. F&H is a wind of fresh air in the world of indie RPGs, especially in terms of morality and horror integrated in both lore and design. More information regarding the game can be found in my review.
What surprised me the most is that Fear & Hunger was practically created by just one person: Miro Haverinen. I had the possibility to talk with him regarding F&H, knowing more details about his creative process and his future ideas. Miro kindly answered to all my questions and, if you are interested in knowing more details about F&H, below you can find the complete interview.
Q1: Fear & Hunger is an original RPG with a dark, mature and disturbing setting. How the idea of Fear & Hunger was born?
A1: The original idea was born during my school studies few years ago. In our class we had this tradition of asking random (like truly random) questions from each other. During one class I started asking one of my classmates what he would do in these different morally awkward scenarios that would all happen in a morbid dungeon. The scenarios would continue for a while and more and more people got involved. In the end it started to take a shape of a pen & paper RPG and the dungeons were named ’The dungeons of fear & hunger’.
Later on I had to scrap together some academic credits and I decided to turn the dungeons into a video game format and make a school project out of it. I even ended up writing my thesis about the game. The thesis was about the aesthetics and thematics of horror in video games and the practical part of the thesis was the first demo of Fear & Hunger.
Q2: The setting and the lore of Fear & Hunger are original and interesting. What inspired you the most while creating the game? Which are the major influences for your work and for the complex lore of the game?
A2: I was originally inspired to create a sensation of relentless darkness. I wanted to experiment different ways to evoke hopelessness and horror in a sense. I think this is more apparent in the earlier builds of the game. It has since taken more of a ’video game’ form with the later updates if that makes any sense… As for the influences, there are so many that it’s difficult to pick just few… I guess the biggest influences would be Silent Hill, Hellraiser, Amnesia, Nethack, Berserk and the Souls games. I also want to name Mortal Kombat here, because the lore of MK is really underrated in my opinion. Also the early Mortal Kombat games had a really frightening and vile atmosphere.
The way the lore is presented in F&H is obviously heavily inspired by the storytelling and the world-building of Souls games. But the lore itself doesn’t try to replicate any of those titles. It felt like the game wrote itself on its own really, which is pretty weird looking back to it.
Q3: Let’s know a bit about you, Miro. What did you work before focusing on Fear & Hunger? Were there other videogames/projects before this one or you worked in a completely different field?
A3: Ah, well… I did play around with game developing when I was really young. I found game engines like the RPG Maker and Game Maker among others, but I couldn’t really concentrate on any single project for long and most of the games I made back then died within few weeks or months. I did release a couple of game demos back in the day but unfortunately I don’t have them anymore.
Eventually I drifted away from game development, thinking that there was no future in playing around with simple 2D graphics. Funny enough, right after I quit, the indie gaming exploded so it wasn’t necessarily the best move at the time. Later on I got into graphic designing and I really wanted to make art. Graphic art, music or whatever. There are some album covers around with my art and also some light graphic novels in which I took part. I didn’t really consider game development until I had to get those academic credits from somewhere. I decided to revisit RPG Maker as it was the engine I was the most familiar with. Then people seemed to like the early versions of the F&H and after the first Let’s Plays of the game I was hooked. With games I could fuse together all my interests in different art forms and it was very rewarding to see the immediate reactions Let’s Players had with all the things I had created.
Q4: Which are your favorite videogames?
A4: I have a deep love for Souls games. Demon’s Souls especially awakened something inside me. Also the first three Silent Hill games have a special place in my heart. I’ve never felt the same kind of dread as the 10-year-old me felt with the original Silent Hill. Other than those, I’d say Final Fantasy VII, Ocarina of Time and the original Resident Evil 2 are probably my favourite games of all time. It’s a pretty boring and obvious list haha. Maybe I should throw some more obscure names here too? From the top of my head – A Blurred Line, Legion Saga 2, Devil May Cry 3, Seiken Densetsu 3 and Lost Planet 2 are all cool.
Q5: Fear & Hunger is a really mature game, including sex and gore. In my opinion everything is not gratuitous and it adds darkness to the world, but I was curious: was there something that you deleted from the final release because you considered it too mature or dark?
A5: No, not really. Every time I felt bad about making some things I figured I was on the right path. If it created a repulsive feeling in me, it had to have an effect to people playing the game too. There were some things removed though, but not because they were too dark or mature, but because I felt they took the game more to the meme territory. Like for example the ’Stinger thrust’ attacks of the guards originally caused – erm – …different bleeding statuses during the combat. It was a bit too silly. The status ailment is still in the game, but it’s not too frequent now.
Q6: Personally, I love the monsters of Fear & Hunger, both in terms of design and for the unique battles. Which is your favorite monster and why?
A6: I really like the Skin granny [Figure 1]. Her design is really cool and menacing I think and on my playthroughs she is always one of the more intense fights. If you miss some of the attacks on the first turn, things can go south really fast. Also I think the very first enemy most people run into, the guard [Figure 2], is really the best enemy as far as the gameplay balance goes. In general I’m really happy with the way designs ended up too.
Q7: Developing a videogame could be complicated and many ideas often are cut from the original plan. What was an idea you wanted to implement but at the end was cut from the actual game? A creature or boss fight?
A7: Seeing as I still keep updating the game, I can’t say any of the features were really cut from the game really. They could just be waiting for the future updates! But originally I planned that in the place of the Salmonsnake boss fight [Figure 3], there would’ve been a random variation to the boss fight with a tentacle monster instead. I thought it was a pretty cool idea to go to the lengths of making randomized bosses too. But since that fight is optional to begin with, I felt that that the time it would have taken me to make that functional would be better spent elsewhere. So that’s probably something that will remain cut from the future updates too. There were also supposed to be swimming sections to the game in underground tunnels, but that might be cut out entirely too. Who knows?
Q8: What was the most challenging part of Fear & Hunger development?
A8: Things have gone relatively smoothly with the development. I’d say the most challenging part has been finding the time to make the game. It has demanded so much time for the past 2 years. I really can’t recommend game development to anyone who wants to keep on to their other hobbies and social life haha.
Q9: Fear & Hunger can be a really challenging and punitive game. During the testing, which was the monster/trap that killed you the most? I am talking about something that you really hated yourself, and maybe you also ended up fixing a bit for how much difficult it was.
A9: I didn’t really hate anything during the test runs. Otherwise I would have removed those elements entirely. If I die on my test runs, it’s usually within the opening hours and the cause is the guards. They can be pretty punishing if I go about too carelessly.
The boss fight of the Ending B was originally meant to be hard mode only, but since I could never beat the boss on my test runs, I changed it so that the boss appears in the normal mode as well. I can’t really think of other things… But I’ve changed many things according to the feedback I’ve gotten from the other players though.
Q10: Miro, what is your plan for the future? Are you planning to add contents to Fear & Hunger, or already thinking/developing a new game or a sequel? I would be curious to know some details, if for you is ok.
A10: I’ll continue updating Fear & Hunger to some extent. It has still been my priority, but I’ve also started to plan and make some early work for a follow up game. After the next update I think the priority will shift more towards the next game. So yeah there will be a ’sequel’. But it’s going to be different. I’m not sure if all the people agree with the direction the next game will take, but I feel like I want to make something a little different for a change of pace. And some details? Hmmm…. The game will use the same lore, but won’t be a direct sequel per se. Although it is going to follow one storyline F&H set up already.
I would like to thank Miro for the friendly talk and for his cooperation. I will curiously wait for more news regarding the future of F&H. I would like also to remember the Fear & Hunger is available at itch and STEAM.
Fear & Hunger is for sure the darkest RPG ever made, set in a dungeon without morality and full of horrors and brutality (you can find a complete review in my other blog Dark RPGs: Fear & Hunger a journey in a land without morality). The enemies are grotesque and creepy foes, and even the […]
Fear & Hunger is for sure darkest JRPG I ever played, full of gore, sex and torture; surely for a mature audience. The game is the JRPG equivalent of the board game Kingdom Death, especially for the dark themes and the heavy atmosphere. The sense of dread is incredible, every corridor or choice could bring you to a terrible death, behind any path could be a treasure or a horrible creature. Should I enter in that well? What would happen if I join the orgy of people with bunny masks? Every choice could bring to a really horrible death. For example during my first hours I died of hunger in a s****y well (literally), and I was tortured to death by a mad doctor. In a land without morality everything is allowed, from sacrifices kids to murder your party, or cannibalism. But nothing here is gratuitous, everything is well integrated to build a believable dark environment where everything is allowed to survive.
The combat system is quick and brilliant, turn-based fights focused on dismembering the opponent. Dismember fast your enemies, understanding which limb is the most dangerous, and finish the fight with less damages possible is the best way to survive. An enemy is wielding a threatening giant mace? Cut his arm and avoid heavy damages. This is implemented in a very clever way, for example zombies can fight till be dismembered, while a head-shot for humans is lethal.
Here the injuries are deadly, and it is also possible to lost limbs or even eyes permanently. Without an arm the character cannot use heavy weapons or shield, while losing the legs will make the player dragging around his body through the dark corridors of the dungeon. It is obvious to say that these permanent debilitation will make the game almost impossible to complete, and loading a save would is the best option. With this in mind, the fighting in Fear & Hunger is far more stressful, brutal and dangerous than in any other RPGs, and should be avoided. There are no random encounters, experience and level up, for this reason fighting should be the last resource. It is true that if almost any enemy can be avoided, some of them are bringing very interesting weapons or tools. In this case, fighting them quickly could bring to interesting benefits.
The game is direct to a mature audience. Seriously! Game Over scenes could involve your character being raped to death, tortured or mutilated. In this dark world, sex, nudity and cannibalism are everywhere, together with madness and an uncomfortable touch of necrophilia. Worth to specify that nothing of these is gratuitous, light-hearted or integrated in a pleasant way, but it is focused on creating a dark and mature experience above the limits of morality. And it works, creating one of the darkest environment, which will scare, make you feel uneasy and questioning your own limits on how to survive.
Since in the game there is not experience, to learn new skills it is necessary to find specific book, or to use the souls collected from dead enemies to unlock them. The skills are usually character-specific or related to an Old God. To learn the abilities associated to a God, it is necessary to improve the relationship with that related god by doing specific acts in its name. Of course since the universe of Fear & Hunger is a dark place, to worship the Old Gods you can make human sacrifices, have sex or eat another human. This is reflected also on the skills that could be learned, from Necromancy to something called Dark Seed, which is better to don’t describe.
Fear & Hunger is a difficult but rewarding experience. The feeling of finally advancing alive and healthy in the dungeon is really satisfying. There is always some trial and error, but build in a conscious way, where an extended knowledge in the dungeon and in its deadly surprises will allow to understand how to avoid unneeded dangers. Anyway, this is an unforgiving game, where every error will punish and the odds are against the player. The loot system and many drastic decisions are based on a coin flip. Can this be unfair? Surely yes, especially when the coin rule can give you 50% possibilities to save or die, or make you lost crucial loot. Also the game will hide many mechanics, allowing the player to discover everything, but implying lot of trial and error and some searching in the web. Luckily the community is very active, and there is also a well done official wiki of the game.
During the tough descend in the belly of the dungeon, few characters can also be recruited in the party. But this is no an easy task, since the rules to recruit them are complex and the characters could be lost forever without knowing. For example, a dangerous wolf can be recruited by feeding it rotten meat, an immortal magician would speak with you only if a talisman is equipped, while another character can be saved only by reaching him quickly. Another topic is the use of spells, such as Necromancy, which are able to generate ghouls as allies from dead bodies. The secondary characters are interesting both for personal story and for use in combat. Some of them are impossible to control directly and will attack following their instinct. For example, I found very interesting how the wolf tend to focus its attacks on the legs of the enemies.
The atmosphere is pure nightmare inducing, full of disturbing creatures and evilness. A crow like entity will murder you if you sleep in his bed, while a giant ball made of heads will ask to sacrifice children to him. The monsters are original and creepy, from pregnant mannequins, to dismembering dancing wizards and old women fused with an ancient sewing machine.
The game also embraces darkness with many choices. Will you sacrifice your team? Will you kill to please the old gods? The game is opened to replayability, with the possibility to select between 4 different characters with its own skills and abilities. Each character has also a prologue, with different paths, which will define the starting abilities and equipment for each class. Abandon your friends to certain death? Your mercenary will learn Backstab. Put the temple on fire? The dark priest will learn Pyrotrick.
The lore and the setting is really complex and interesting, with a believable and unique mythology, far from the usual “inspired by Lovecraft” so common to many horror indie RPGs. Every monster, character and location is clearly part of the same universe. Sylvian for example is the goddess of love, but her love become twisted and people having sex in her name… well will not spoil the surprise. A very bizarre merchant will offer the player very powerful equipment in exchange for… children. Dedicated players will be rewarded with a deep knowledge of the world by reading books, or typing questions directly to the New Gods.
The art-style is simple but gorgeous, especially the monsters and the environment. Also the sound effects add another level of deepness, with disturbing noises and atmospheric music. The dismembering and the animations during the fights are also very satisfying.
This is a demanding and challenging game, sometime unfair and not for everyone. But if you are searching a unique JRPG, really dark and horror, with a complex and rewarding system, you should really give it a try.