Usurper Ghoul is another example of how GB Studio has become a beacon for many artists to explore the world of Game Development. Evan Dahm is an illustrator and adventure comic artist who’s created several major works that are published online. Using GB Studio, Evan created a standalone game that aligns strongly with the overall feel and style of his works, presenting a fantasy and otherworldly setting where the main character explores and interacts with the world.
Usurper Ghoul doesn’t offer any storyline upfront, nor do you have much in terms of direction of what to do. Setup as an exploratory adventure game about a fallen kingdom, some of the early game can be obtuse and somewhat frustrating if you aren’t prepared to spend some time venturing into the world available. Some hints are provided in the menu system, showing that you can carry a flower, stick or rock. Obtaining the first of these key items isn’t too challenging, and it becomes apparent that they affect the way you interact with the world. What does become unique is the first time you find a second of the same item (like a second flower) and are told you can only carry one at a time.
What seems to begin as a simple “fetch quest” opens up into a far more complex and challenging series of puzzles to solve. Do you enter one area with a specific item in hand and use that for certain tasks? Or will you have to back track and find a different item to use beforehand? There is a fair amount of trial and error, so taking notes can be helpful. There is also no save or password system, so creating a route to complete the game is recommended, or possibly working with save states.
Apart from the gameplay, Usurper Ghoul’s art style really stands out. The elevated terrain that is reminiscent of A Link To The Past’s Death Mountain really sets up the exploration vibe of the piece, and the ancient looking architecture tells a story in itself. There’s a fair amount of world to explore and some unique twists and turns, and visually speaking it’s all done so well.
You can play and download the game for free (or with a donation if you choose) here: https://evandahm.itch.io/usurper-ghoul
Evan’s also the posted the tileset used for the game if you wanted to study it or incorporate it into your own work: https://evandahm.itch.io/usurper-ghoul-tileset. You can also follow Evan Dahm on Twitter to discover more of his work.
Audio Engineer, Mac Technologist and Video Game Developer. Managing Editor of GBStudio Central. (he/him)