This may have been covered sometime in the past, but it’s well worth revisiting, due to how much the game has grown. A long time ago, on another, much less handsome indie site, a strange and unique game-development competition was held. Group A produces random game art assets, and Group B makes games using them. Of the many interesting an exciting results, Realm of The Mad God was probably the most ambitious. An MMO, of all things, and it worked! It was very bare-bones at first release, but has grown into a great way to waste an hour or two from time to time.
Essentially, it’s a basic Gauntlet-style shooter, based on flash and running in your browser. You pick a character class, you run around using the WSAD keys (and rotate your view with Q and E), zap baddies with the mouse and dodge bullets, go up levels, get more power and do it again. The key difference here is that it’s all online, and the world is as packed with other players as it is monsters. Little pixellated warriors, wizards, rangers and more zipping around and blatting monsters, returning to town to trade their loot with other players. It’s simple, compelling communal mayhem. Imagine Diablo spliced with Gauntlet with 50 players dashing around all at once.
It’s relatively simple fun, but there’s enough depth to it to have a fairly well-stocked wiki full of information. Beyond the initial goal of ‘shoot stuff and get awesome’, there’s a variety of target monsters in each zone that, when sufficiently murdered, will spawn a large and particularly ornery boss target to hunt down and kill. Complete enough of these (and other) objectives, and you get to the final overarching goal of the game – to kill the Mad God Oryx himself. Every player on the server is thrown into a kill-or-be-killed battle royale with the Big Bad himself. Victory results in a new world map being brought into play, and the game starting anew.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention one small detail: You have ONE LIFE. Yeah, the cutesy 8-bit graphics hide a dark and cruel secret to this game. You’ve got one shot at this. If you die, it’s time to roll a new character and start fresh. All your loot, all your levels gone forever. So, less Gauntlet, more Roguelike. Therefore, the meta-goal of the game is for as many players as possible to hit the maximum level (20) before the grand final boss battle happens. All the while, Oryx himself bellows taunts and boasts at the number of surviving minions he has in the world.
It’s a clever, simple and original little romp, this one. Well worth the price of admission (free, but you can donate money to get fancy dyes to play 8-bit dress-up with), and definitely worthy of more attention. Go play it, do your part in deflating the ego of the Mad God, and keep an eye out for Stabbo the Warrior in your travels – that may grow to Stabbo2, Stabbo3, etc as I die horribly, of course.