by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
We’ve had games based on books and even a few games about authors, but rarely do we see games about the books themselves. In Haimrik, the titular character finds himself trapped inside the pages of books, and only by using the very words on the page can he escape. I played the opening section of the game at Gamescom, and found it to be a real page-turner.
Haimrik is a young scribe living in a small town, and although he is an unlikely hero, once he discovers a cursed book and becomes trapped inside, he has to deal with the unexpected situations that arise. This action – slash - puzzle game has you running and jumping across actual lines of text from the book, some of which may behave in mysterious ways. For example, one of the earliest parts has the book narrating Haimrik coming across a locked door, precisely on the page where the word door appears. To get through, he needs to find the key which is hidden within the actual word key elsewhere on the page.
Later on a fire appeared and burned Haimrik alive, forcing him back to the start of the page. The game has a hand drawn style, however it is highly gruesome at times, with the characters’ skin burning off, blood pouring from every orifice, and muscle and bone collapsing to the floor. Early on in the game you’ll be fighting enemy soldiers, an ogre which you need to lead off a gap in the page caused by the word “gap,” and you’ll even need to fight off a huge dragon with a crossbow. Haimrik’s main book makes him immortal, so even if a cat gnaws off his arm for food, it’ll soon grow back. A nice form of sustenance for the feline.
The game takes place on a 2D plane, but there are also some action sequences which have you going into a first person perspective to shoot crossbows at enemies in the background. There will be boss battles, which will be trickier sequences, and perhaps with more time pressure involved. There are also some choices to be made in the game. When faced with two soldiers, I could’ve probably used the “sword” found further up the page to take them on in melee combat. However instead, I picked up a “bucket,” filled it with “explosives,” and then lit them with the “torch.” You’re able to throw items you’re carrying, so I was able to make quick, and grisly work of my foes from afar.
This word based puzzle solving is a unique mechanic that remained novel for the short time I played. Hopefully this method of puzzle solving will stay interesting for the full 5-6 hours it is expected to be needed to complete the game. There are five books to be found in the game, and each has different powers associated with it, where Haimrik will not necessarily be immortal. Gameplay will also take place outside the pages of the books Haimrik finds, such as in the town, underneath it, and even in the king’s castle. Outside in the town I raced someone to the other side, but it remains to be seen just how much there will be to do out in the real world.
Haimrik is nearing completion now, and is due for release in October. If the puzzles and locations found within the books remain varied, then it could well be worth picking up later this year. If you do, you might not be able to put it down.