My New Favorite Mushroom
Lone Fungus first really grabbed my attention after I saw a post on Reddit and right from the get go I was curious. I quickly found out it had a demo and immediately hopped into it. The demo is a small piece of the developer’s vision for Lone Fungus, spanning the first area with some of the relics available as well as two bosses. Even with what’s available though there is so much to get excited about here. With only 4 days remaining on their Kickstarter (at time of writing) and Basti, the developer behind Lone Fungus, being so close to his goal I really wanted to try and raise awareness of my new favorite mushroom in gaming.
UPDATE: The game has successfully been funded! Congratulations to Basti!
Easy or Sadistic? Your Choice!
One thing I know people will appreciate is that you can decide right from the get go what kind of experience you want Lost Fungus to be. You can have an easier adventure with more health and a lot of in game assistance or you can pace back and forth in your room going over a mental pros and cons list of why you should or shouldn’t throw your controller out the window after another spike related death.
It’s all your fault!
Any time you are dealing with a skill based metroidvania like Hollow Knight, Sundered, or Salt & Sanctuary controls can make or break the experience. While Greencap’s movements may seem a little stiff at first, although I think this is just how a mushroom would ideally move around. Despite common believe I have no understanding of the complexities of a mushroom. Fortunately that stiffness does not transfer to the controls. Controlling Fungo Jones which is what I call Greencap in my head canon is really responsive and tight. Manoeuvring around the world really shows off how well done the controls are. While this is a great thing and will make your journey a fun one it also means that if you die to a trap it is all your fault!
One thing I noticed that I feel is worth mentioning is that the downwards strike, which is used to move around the world as much as it is in combat, can be performed by holding down on the d-pad (I played with a XBOX controller) or by attacking while holding the left bumper. Having the downwards strike assigned to it’s own button is really nice and as you explore more you start to understand why. Now, anyone who has played through a game like this will know that more often than not the environment itself is one of the biggest dangers. This game is no different but it does have a very nice mechanic that makes the process of suffering through spikes so much easier to work through.
You will sometimes come across a small green orb and upon touching it you will take control of it. This orb lets you fly through the next portion of the map at your own pace without the worry of a spike filled death. One thing I don’t like a lot of the time is dying because I had no way of seeing what I was dealing with in a split second decision situation. This completely removes that for me, if I mess up it was just my own mistake and not because of the game . Another example of the developer’s attention to quality of life is noticeable right within the first 15 minutes of the demo. If you approach a smaller ledge you will mantle it automatically so getting caught on little ledges is no worry. This little change makes moving around the world feel less like a chore and lets you pay attention to the world itself.
Keeping Yourself Alive
Lone Fungus trades a traditional health bar in for a hit based system seen in other metroidvania titles. On the Normal difficulty setting you can be hit 5 times before dying but you can heal as long as you are standing still and don’t get hit while doing so.
Healing is done by expending mana while standing still and not being attacked. The most popular example I can think of recently is Hollow Knight’s style of healing system. One thing I appreciate from this type of healing mechanic is the strategy and tension that it adds to the combat. Having to charge up to utilize your heal makes you think about every move you make.
Another thing worth noting is that this game features a parry mechanic which I am always excited about. It adds another level to keeping yourself alive as you decide when it is best to use one of your three available parries. You don’t want to spam them, the last thing you want is for all your parries to be on cooldown when you need them.
Relics, Spells, and Other Things
One thing I always like in a game is when the rewards feel like an actual reward. Fortunately in Lone Fungus the relics you find and the tricks you learn feel genuinely useful and offer up some really big changes in how you approach situations.
Now relics are a cool mechanic just on their own but spells are also insanely beneficial and often act as tools for getting to new places in classic metroidvania style. One thing that I really found cool in the available demo is that your first spell not only acts as a way reach new heights but also lets you regenerate mana. In one situation I was able to reach some loot by combining the regeneration aspect of the spell and the traversal aspect. Having that freedom makes you feel like you are really exploring on your terms.
So once you have loaded yourself up on spells and relics while committing all the tricks to muscle memory it’s time to get buff. As buff as your little mushroom frame can get. When it comes down to collectibles Lone Fungus has plenty for you to scavenge the world for. Whether it is collecting ladybugs for upgrades or magic stones to increase your spells you will be checking every area for false walls while trying not to die.
Not a Cliche or Copy
By this point I am sure you have noticed some comparisons to other games I have made while talking about Lone Fungus. I think for fans of metroidvanias you might be quick to compare it to Hollow Knight, I did the same. However the more I played the game and experienced the interesting additions and changes unique to Lone Fungus the more I realized this really is it’s own entity in the genre. I have seen a lot of people try capture what an important game had while just coming off as a discount copy.
I am really happy to say that Lone Fungus is not in this position. From the varied relics and spells to the incredibly well used mushmovers, the game feels like a breath of fresh air in a genre that has been seeing a lot of attention in the last few years. I guess what I am trying to say is I think this is a perfect example of having inspiration but really making something your own. This isn’t just taking features you know and spoon feeding them back to you. Instead you are seeing features you are familiar with being evolved and morphed into something else that gets you excited again.
An Assist Mode Like No Other
One thing really worth mentioning is the Assist mode featured in the game. A lot of metroidvanias require a skill level that a lot more casual players can’t overcome to enjoy the game. The Assist mode goes far enough as to add platforms into the world if you aren’t so great with platforming and just want to explore the game. I am always happy to see developers make their games widely accessible without compromising the experience for other players.
The Charm in The Design
The art style feels familiar while still maintaining a sense of uniqueness. The art design itself isn’t the only thing that adds to this sense of life though. The developer has added little animations for Greencap. One of my favorites available to see in the demo is the teetering near a ledge, nice little charming detail as well as the crouching animation.
I have really become a big fan of backgrounds in games like this. I never really used to pay much attention when I was younger but now I find myself appreciating the work developers put into their environments more and more. This is something that I noticed a lot in Lone Fungus. The developer has taken time to add these little details that add to the whole atmosphere and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. One thing that adds a lot to the world for me is things that make the world feel more alive. For example in Lone Fungus I can run around cutting blades of grass or plants. It is a tiny thing and the developer had no reason to put it in but doing so adds a lot to the look and feel of the game for me.
The environments are not just detailed in the assets that make them up but in the atmosphere and music that accompanies them. The demo is a good example of this as you descend lower and the music starts to sink into the background. You suddenly start to feel the cold unwelcoming depths that you’re in. The music is absolutely worth mentioning and if you enjoy listening to tracks from games then visit the Kickstarter page because Basti has shown some great tracks. I often found myself thinking of Super Metroid while listening to the music in this game. It is music that really sets the mood whether that mood be comfortable, unsettling, or spacey. More importantly it is music that’s so good that you are happy to hear it in the background. I got excited in the demo alone to find new areas in case I got a new track. I don’t do that very often.
Overall I think Basti has done an incredible job and I hope the Kickstarter is funded in these last few days. The game is too great and the campaign is so close to being complete. One thing I can say for sure is that no matter what happens I will be keeping a close eye on Lone Fungus and Basti as the project goes on. If everything goes smoothly with the rest of development then I am also curious how the speedrun community will respond to the game as it seems to have a ton of run potential. Either way I couldn’t be happier with Lone Fungus.
“I believe I’ve made great progress and I feel like I know what I want to do with my life now.”Basti
My name is Michael, I’m also behind The Electric Mindset. Ed offered me a place to satisfy my urges to write so I hope you enjoy the various things I want to share with you!