I love me a good QRPG. What’s the Q stand for? Quirky, that’s what. RPGs along the lines of Earthbound and Undertale are almost always winners in my book. So, bearing that mind, I am understandably intrigued by the independent RPG project, Knuckle Sandwich.
Created by Australian native Andrew Brophy, Knuckle Sandwich follows a young man (who Brophy has stated is based on himself) who has just recently left home and got his first full time job at a crappy diner in the small burgh of Bright City. The conditions are poor and his boss is a putz, but we’ve all got to work some lousy jobs in our lives. However, shortly after starting this job, mysterious disappearances begin to plague Bright City, heralding the arrival of an equally-mysterious cult hunting for a special individual known simply as “The Number One”. The young man is a complete bystander in all this; no one he knows has been kidnapped, and he has no real stake in the local goings on. In spite of this, he decides to investigate, aided by his new coworkers. Why, you ask? Well, frankly, if I had to choose between life threatening adventure and working a day job, I’d probably pick the adventure. What intrigues me about this narrative is that it’s similar to Earthbound in that you’re a bystander in a chess game far bigger than you, but the difference is that in Earthbound, you’re a child with nothing else really going on, so there’s plenty of time for an adventure. Plus, a child has a more flexible imagination, so all the strange goings-on in Earthbound are a little more manageable. In Knuckle Sandwich, you’re a grown-ass man with grown-ass man responsibilities. Adventure is out there, but you’ve got to juggle that with the weight of a day job. You’re old enough to know the world and how it works, so when strange things start happening, it’s far more jarring.
When not at your job, the city is yours to explore, with every NPC living their lives the best they can. You can interact with them to learn about their own “lil’ stories”, as Brophy call them, and as the game progresses you can keep contact with these folks to see how their lives are going, which gives Bright City a bit more of a living feeling.
Details on the combat system are a bit scarce at the moment, but Brophy has stated in interviews with Siliconera that he’s experimenting with a relationship system for the protagonist and his comrades that would change stats and provide new abilities based on how they feel about him, kind of like Social Links in Persona games. Party members fluctuate between chapters, with the protagonist being the only constant, so you’ll need to be mindful of which members you build up and which you leave on the sidelines.
No word yet on when the game will be done, but it was greenlit on Steam back in October, and Brophy has stated he’d like to shoot for a release some time in 2016. I love projects like this, because they’ve got a lot of heart (plus, though not in a diner, I know how working an awful nine-to-five feels). I’ll most definitely be checking out Knuckle Sandwich when it’s ready to be served.