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Sean

Rising Dusk - A Japanese folktale-inspired, anti-coin collecting platformer

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Today I'm going to talk about a game you have never heard of, but should.

Rising Dusk is described by its store page as an "anti-coin collection platformer." The idea is that the player is discouraged from grabbing coins while playing the game. If you take this description at face value, then it may seem like this game's only real gimmick is that you have to ignore a long-running staple of platformers.

The reality is that you will frequently be weighing the benefits of avoiding or collecting coins depending on your goals. Each of the game's 20-odd levels is distinct from the others and can involve a lot of critical thinking over how to progress. Coins can cause blocks to disappear or appear depending on how many you have. The local tanuki looking to steal your cash may prove more useful than you'd think. The real trickiness comes into play once you start actively hunting for golden maneki-nekos or cassette tapes, the former which can unlock additional challenge levels at Kin-neko-ji Temple. Due to Rising Dusk's short length and wide variety of ideas on display, the coin mechanic never feels like a gimmick that overstays its welcome.

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The charming pixely graphics filter Japanese mythology with an endearing cartoonish art style. Just about everything in this game, from Tamako the protagonist to the friendly villagers and mischievous yet ultimately harmless yokai, is adorable without feeling saccharinely so. The game's overall look evokes memories of SNES games without feeling restricted by imaginary hardware limitations; the animation is fluid and there is incredible detail and atmosphere in its backgrounds.

But in my experience the true star of the show is the soundtrack. Frankly, Rising Dusk's music is some of the best I have ever heard in an indie game. It has a moody, surreal tone that perfectly encapsulates the otherworldly setting that Tamako finds herself stranded in. It is quirky, haunting, and comforting all at once. Unfortunately, as of this writing the creator has not released the soundtrack in any capacity and there are no rips on Youtube. So here are a few of my favorite songs, taken from some of the only comprehensive gameplay videos you'll find on the site:

Rising Dusk is a game with a lot of charm, good ideas, and interesting puzzle solving platforming and I absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for a cheap, yet excellent retro-ish platform game to play. A complete playthrough should take you anywhere between three to five hours. Currently it's only on PC and Mac; you can grab it at Steam or itch.io for $7, or at the time of this writing in itch's Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality for just $5 (ending in two days), which also gets you over 1,600(!) other indie works, most which are video games, to boot. If any of what I have shown in this topic sounds even the least bit appealing to you, then I guarantee you're not going to be disappointed with this even with its full asking price.

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