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~New Release of Extended Prologue and Chapter 1 (of 7) now available for download!~

You are a mind-reading goblin mage whose citizen score has fallen below the threshold of social acceptability.

Normally, you would spend the rest of your life in the Corrective Camps of the State of New Order, but you have volunteered yourself for an expedition into the Inverted Spire.

The Spire is an unearthly architectural marvel stretching many leagues below ground. It has no known origin, and has been altering the surrounding landscape into an unlivable wasteland.

Your Council has been sending groups of prisoners into the structure for decades with the stated intent of investigating and destroying it. This is the sole opportunity for wards of the state to have their crimes forgiven, scores reset, and citizenship fully reinstated. 

None have ever returned.  But you, and the six others who have been 'volunteered' alongside you, are determined to be the first survivors!

Read minds. Form alliances. Break them. Find true companionship. Make true enemies. Become the person you always wished you could be, or succumb to your darkest urges.

Anything is possible in the uncharted depths of the Spire.



Content Warning 

The Inverted Spire is a dark fantasy choices-matter visual novel with themes of redemption and self-discovery in a brutal dystopian world. This translates to a mature narrative aimed at an 18+ audience that may not be suitable for all players. 

It touches on themes of authoritarian repression, cyclical violence, relational abuse, substance abuse, loss and mental illness through a trauma-informed lens. The game also features body horror, coarse language and sexual themes, with optional sexually explicit content planned for future releases. 

If you believe you may be sensitive to some of the content involved, please proceed with care.



Key Features 


Living, breathing environments~

Including (presently 30+) animated CGs and environments, (presently 50+) dynamic character expressions, animated mind-reading sequences, and originally composed music. (More on our process here)

Meaningful choices ~

The Inverted Spire departs from a more traditional branching narrative structure to offer a rubik's cube of moving parts. 

It is is built from the ground up to maximize replayability. A single playthrough is likely to yield roughly 10% of available content, and there are multiple solutions to almost every in-game encounter. 

Every choice you make impacts character relationships and how the protagonist is perceived by others.  Some decisions have immediate consequences, while others gradually reveal their impact over time.  How the characters develop and what ending you achieve in future releases will be determined by the sum of your actions.

Multi-dimensional character relationships in a genderless world~

Your companions have perpetually-shifting trust bars that reflect their confidence in the protagonist at any given time. Their attitude is also impacted by personally significant events, and they respond to changes in the protagonist's behavior over the course of your journey.

You can cultivate romantic relationships (with or without a sexual dimension), close friendships and rivalries with any of your six companions over the course of future releases. (More on the relationship system here and genderless worldbuilding here)

Mind-reading~

Our protagonist's sinister discipline places them in a unique position to influence the dynamics of their group. How you use this power is up to your discretion.  (More on that here)

A World Rich with Lore ~

You have access to an in-game codex that is persistently updated with character secrets (as you discover them), and worldbuilding lore presented through immersive in-world transcriptions of recordings, letters and documents. These entries are often significant to solving dialogue puzzles and seeing through to the underlying truth behind character interactions!

How much you uncover about the mystery behind your companions, the state of New Order, and the Inverted Spire itself depends on the choice that you make.


Characters

ONE (V----- I----)

Age: 24

Our protagonist bears the dubious honour of being the Expedition’s youngest participant. ONE is determined to seize this chance to finally make something of themselves—but what will they become in the Spire's inscrutable depths?

TWO (B---- E---)

Age: 53

A thoughtful goblin with a warm, mentorly demeanor. TWO is always bursting with theories about the true origins of New Order, but skillfully evades probing questions about their past.

Fun Fact: Comes from a town that no longer exists on any map, and only occasionally makes its way into children's nursery rhymes.

THREE (M--- R----)

Age: 28

An unrepentant dissident who can find the humour in anything. THREE is an impulsive risk-taker who never holds back what they think—especially when it means trouble.

Fun fact: Has a glorious singing voice and a keen sense of rhythm. Just don't ask them why they're not a dancer anymore.

FOUR (R---- M------)

Age: 43

A stoic goblin with a casual aura of authority, which can in part be attributed to their imposing size.  FOUR prides themselves on their down-to-earth attitude. Their diplomacy—not so much.

Fun fact: Can build anything with a blueprint, but has a special preference for suspension racks.

FIVE (Y---- M---)

Age: 31

A true New Order patriot. FIVE is an idealist of seemingly boundless optimism—matched only by their equally boundless anxiety. They're a little tough on everyone, but most of all themselves.

Fun fact: Former proud owner of a fearsome tabby named Bobble (well, FIVE thinks they're fearsome, and that's what counts).

SIX (M---- S---)

Age: 37

A goblin of poise and self-possession. SIX always speaks their mind with a sharp tongue and an acerbic smile. Is there anything that can break their composure?

Fun fact: Has a unique perspective on death, even for a goblin of their gruesome magical discipline.

SEVEN (C----- P------)

Age: 32

A goblin who appears young and fragile at first glance. Under the convincing veneer of credulousness, and wanting everyone to get along, SEVEN lets slip the occasional glimpse of—something else.

Fun fact: Prefers most other living creatures to goblins, for the possible exception of spiders.



Dev Team


Art, Writing and more:   

Nicholai A. Melamed

(follow on itch.io and Twitter)


Coding:  

Feardeer

(follow on itch.io and Twitter)


Music:   

Mickey Hoz

(follow on itch.io and Twitter)



Beta Readers

Amir

The Alchemist and The Druid 
(Artist & Writer Team creating comics, prose and Illustration on TwitterInstagram, and their website!)

Alex Phelps

Ana Vy Nguyen

Brie Atienza

Camisha Pisenti 
(Content Creator.  ChromaGlitch on Twitch and Youtube!)

Incudo

Meli Taylor

Mari Draconia

ScarletSlicer


Additional Credit

Sounds from Freesound and Opengameart

Textures from the NYPL's digital collections (https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/) and Pexels (https://www.pexels.com/).

A huge thank you to Qweerty Gamers
for their grant and ongoing help with development!



Download

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Click download now to get access to the following files:

TISPart01-1.06-mac.zip 687 MB
TISPart01-1.06-pc.zip 722 MB

Development log

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Comments

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the more i think about that last survivor from the previous expedition the more sinister it looks πŸ‘€

my favourite theories so far: 1) they ate the rest of their party to escape starvation, and their next meal is basically us. 2) they were transformed into one of these organical engines of the old order mentioned in a fives journal entry - they would probably still technically classify as alive in that case, right? 

i can't help but think that two's theory about the survivor being a lie is... actually optimistic? whatever happened to the goblin staying in the spire all this time most probably wasn't pretty. (btw i wonder what new order told the citizens? like, were they pronounced dead or? because if not, i dunno how no-one from our party knew about the thing. i also wonder what kind of person they were - like, voted most likely to day last lol? or first and everyone got surprised?) 

but then i remember that there's probably something much more terrible in the spire then a cannibal or a vegetable state goblin, so even the most unsightly option to get out early can easily prove itself preferable to the alternative... but then we probably wouldn't get the truth about the spire, and now that would be disappointing. also rolling with headhunting exercise and not trying to unravel the spire would go directly against my chosen party motto which is less than ideal. still, meeting the survivor would be interesting. i wonder how their mindscape looks after all this time - it must have left a mark... provided they still have a mindscape at all. would those organical engines still have some semblance of mind? 

on another note, i found a variation of the six introduction, where six reveals that one's read four's mind, and four's like "well since you said it, i'm gonna up my trustbar even more, mx. evil necromancer. at least they still haven't spilled my private beans to you guys, gotta respect that shit". and i was like yesss baby your secrets are for my amusement only, wouldn't want to amuse anyone else with your sexy drama :) you can trust me four :)

also in that scene from five intro with five snapping when we get a chance to calm them down, when six is like "why not just assume control" i wanted to tell them the exact reason so bad! i mean, i totally agree, i too would rather just go directly into their mind, but in that playthrough they didn't like me enough for that to be effective! don't rub the salt in the wound six!! (but the option with verbal guidance was extremely satisfying too though. probably even more satisfying than mind reading in this case... also five with their hair down is very neat and very personal for me)

so, still hyperfixating on this vn. i wonder if the genderless world does it for me? i mean, the game sure is a mix of most of my favourite tropes with gorgeous art and atmospheric music and choices that actually matter and are not a stupid set of kind, evil and quirky options. but yknow, gender is especially crisis this days and stuff. hope you don't mind me spamming here a bit more. have a good one :3

I've tried to install the game but everytime i try it says " cannot read property build of undefined". I don't get what the problem is..

could someone please help me with this problem?

(1 edit)

Hi there~ So to the best of my current knowledge, this is a problem that can occur with certain games when someone tries to download them through the itch.io app as opposed to the itch.io website.

I just tweaked a setting that might solve the compatibility issue, so you could try downloading it through the app again to see if that changes anything. But if the issue persists, it may be something else to do with how the itch.io app is reading the game files, in which case your best bet for now is probably to download it through the website (and we can look into this more deeply for the next update).

P.S. If you try downloading it through the app again, please let us know if the tweak has fixed the issue for you, or if there's more that needs to be done~

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I downloaded it again and now it's working :)

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ahhh i think today it was about the tenth time i played the demo?? it's so wonderful that every once in a while i just have to come back and play it cuz nothing else truly scratches the exact same itch yknow?

the protags issues are super relatable to me, the art is gorgeous and I can't stop myself from making heart eyes at... pretty much every character lmao

love going through their minds just because I'm curious how their mindscapes look and what they are thinking. ethics are cool and all but im nosy™ and i know no shame. i wonder if at some point we will be given an option to openly discuss the mindscapes with their owners or something

sten is The icon btw. i read the journal a few times and when they're like "buddy i see your new here lemme help you with your mirror" and the transcription ends it's like yfitcurxeyzyexixhkhc. i love them your honour. pretty, petty and murderous. i wanna mess up their hair and splash blood on their face. too bad my desire to play nice is stronger than my desire to please them for now lol. i loved that we can mess with their mind though 

also i love that there is some light in the underworld after all. like literally. i was worried at the start that their radiance three will be the only source of light but thank veles we can maybe hopefully survive even when the fantasy marijuana wears off lol

btw i can't wait for the moment when the wakeroot wears off, and we'll have to face a whole new level of difficulties with three. i wonder if the protag will be able to help somehow by messing with their head? *____*

five is cute. too bad i cannot play it as a good citizen so they never like the mc in my playthrouths, but it's like they're some kind of nervous cat 😺 eldritch horror cat

i also really wanna see that missing variable incident through stens eyes. like, in their mind. because in fives memories it's at least secondhand retelling, and in the journal they said they were gonna exaggerate, and there's also another thing with the shrodingers patient and stens so called vassals... i really hope will get to see it more or less firsthand via six mind, even at the cost of their whole trustbar lmao

anyway just wanted to thank you very much for making this amazing game and sharing this wonderful world and characters with us! i love them all very much and i have many feelings about everything in the game lol so... I'm very grateful and i wish you the best of luck!!

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wait a sec

i was just admiring the portraits on this page and sevens clothes and headwear strikes as a bit odd... isn't it all floral motifs? i wonder if they're just supposed to be in mourning here orrrr if they're more closely related to horculeans (if i remember correctly, floral patterns are associated with the resident graveyard guild?) 

also their lips on the portrait πŸ‘„

hmmmmmm πŸ‘€πŸ‘€πŸ‘€

(+1)

Hey, thank you for sharing your thoughts <3 It's really nice to hear that you've been getting into the story! 

I can answer a couple of questions in a not-too-spoilery way:

1- There is actually already a way to see the incident through Sten's eyes in Chapter 1! It requires a very particular combination of choices, and can be a somewhat difficult scene to unlock. The game was intentionally designed in a way that makes it easier to access these scenes on multiple playthroughs under the assumption that the player already knows some character secrets, and can now make choices informed by their prior knowledge~

(But keep in mind that goblins, like irl humans, don't always remember things the exact way they went down)

2- Chapter 2 really gets into Three's wakeroot problem, if you let it. 

3- Generally speaking, it is possible to have an opposite alignment to another character in TIS and still get them on your good side! This is a big part of the reason for the favor/grudge system. Even goblins who otherwise disagree with the protagonist's choices and beliefs can begrudgingly take a liking to One if you offer kindness on a personal level. Five and Three, despite their strong opinions, are both susceptible to this.

I'll offer an additional hint in relation to Five (aka. eldritch cat :3) in particular. Keep in mind that being compliant is not ~quite~ the same as being the poster child of good citizenship. Goblins in New Order get away with a lot by being somewhat compliant on the surface, while privately bending the rules in ways that won't get them caught. 

4- I'll offer a small hint about Seven. You can indirectly learn a lot about them in Chapter 1 by learning more about Four. The interactions available to the protagonist during Four's intro can vary greatly by your alignment and prior actions. Seven may also let down their facade considerably in Chapter 2, depending on your choices.

P.S. If you'd like to contribute more to shaping the narrative, there will be a call to playtest Chapter 2 later this year! It would have been ready earlier, but I've rewritten major chunks since last year (partly in response to beta reader feedback), and it is imo much better for it.

I'm trying not to set any dates or post about major updates right now because tbh it's been a very difficult few months, and I need to make space for self care. But I did want to say that your comments really brightened my day <3

(+1)

hi Nicholai!

wow, i saw your reply as soon as i woke up, and let me tell you it makes an amazing morning! thank you so much for the hints, i now know that i gotta hunt the delicious unseen scenes down as soon as i have time 😍

this hint about seven is very intriguing! i could guess that four'd be able too see... some sides of seven other characters can't just because of their experience so far, but it's a bit unexpected for me to see you referring to them anyway πŸ‘€πŸ‘€πŸ‘€ 

i wish you all the good luck with the development, I'm also happy that you're making time for self-care, especially cuz you making this game has given me some extra opportunities to relax and be excited and feel better, and, yknow, I'm super grateful πŸ’™

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oh my god i just got that scene - the melor sten one - and i just wanted to tell you that it's like the best thing that happened to me in a month at least. they are all so damn dramatic, i love them πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™

the whole consent thing was SO sexy lmao, and six' whole package of issues is even cooler and funnier than i imagined :Π΄

thank you so much for telling me about this, or im afraid i wouldn't start looking for it, and it would be a truly terrible loss~

(+1)

hi again nicholai! sorry for kind spamming here, but i was wondering if you were planning to do the characters facts thing on twitter for five, six and seven? no pressure or anything, i just wanna know if i should let myself look forward to it πŸ’™

i don't use twitter like, at all, so I'm not totally comfortable with posting/commenting there, but omg the facts about one were exquisite πŸ‘οΈπŸ‘„πŸ‘οΈ

one of the rare times when i can honestly tell you i'm in love with the protagonist

(+1)

Hey,  no problem~ I'm currently between a lot of things, so I may not check the comments very often, but I do receive notifications and try to respond when I can. 

To be honest, I've been saving more character facts/lore threads and lore-based dev log entry ideas for the Ch 2 release. Once there's a more established schedule for when it comes out, these kinds of things will be part of the general promotion song and dance in the weeks leading up to the release date, to help remind people that TIS exists.

So the short answer is yes, you are certainly welcome to look forward to them! And I'm glad you've enjoyed the ones that are out so far.

It's great that you managed to find that elusive scene too. One of my longterm goals with TIS is to eventually create some kind of official guide to help players unlock some of the more elusive scenes they may have missed. I think the way TIS is structured doesn't quite work for a conventional step-by-step walkthrough format that tells you which choices to pick to get an ending, so I anticipate this will be an interesting challenge in its own right. Knowing that there are players out there who are invested in finding these scenes makes me more confident in putting this on the to-do list, so thank you for that. <3

yes!!!

i will wait for it patiently then *_____*

for the facts and ch2 my beloved 😍

thank you for telling me, and take care of yourself πŸ’™

Congrats on your game, but I'm really sorry about the (3rd and 4th) places on Choice Jam. I guess you've been almost inactive on Twitter, because I chat here for sure. So, keep up the good work! I have to try it via Joiplay.

(+1)

Hey, Nicholai here! If you'd like to reach out to me or one of the other devs on a personal level in a way that's unrelated to The Inverted Spire, email works for me (yozhikisblue@gmail.com). I'm currently taking some time away from Twitter, though I do occasionally check my DMs (I've turned notifications of for now). The game page comments section is probably best used for feedback on the game itself. <3

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Awesome artwork and beautiful VN game

Thank you <3

(+2)

A divine visual novel in development that provides (and is indeed centered around) complex player expression fitted into an indepth world worthy of your time and love.

The art is stunning, the music and ambience enthralling, and the tantalising mystery in this first chapter caught me up entirely.

If nothing else, you need to see the protagonist do their little ':O' face!

I highly recommend giving this a go, from the immensely strong narrative to the presence it puts out it was one of the best things I've played recently!

(+1)

Oh my, that is high praise! Thank you for sharing your thoughts~<3

(+1)

eeeee

I enjoyed this game!

My thoughts:

I felt sadness for the protag. Poor gob, it seems they didn't have a very fulfilling life. They sounded like they needed therapy. Which is not something the New Order folks do, I guess. :( Regardless of whether they have a good or bad ending, I hope there is an end where they feel better about themselves u_u The part where the protag was describing what they did to their guardians made my skin crawl a bit--sounds like they have mind-altering powers πŸ‘€ (But the guardians to me didn't sound very nurturing or "parental" I guess) I know that y'all said the protag was "not very exceptional" but altering the mind of another person sounds like a big feat to me o-o I guess it's not a big deal for the goblins?

For the music--I really loved it! The soundtrack and SFX are always very important to me. I loved the steel drums when the officers were seating the goblins. I really appreciated the little audio player in the gallery, where you can change the music. Although when I clicked on "Next", I think it broke. :p

The color in the VN was very interesting--when I saw all the shades of grey my mind instantly thought "Cold" but it was actually really hot :p I wonder though--does color exist in the goblins' world? Or does the protag just see in grey as a representative of their state of mind? :o

The character designs were exellent. I could tell who was who easily. I feel a Roman-Greek vibe with the togas or robes the goblins have, which is cool!

Anyway, I don't want to make this any longer than it already is, so let me say great job to the devs!!! I look forward to what's coming next hehe >u<

(+1)

Thank you for your thoughtful review! <3

There's quite a lot of New Order lore to be uncovered throughout the full story, so without giving too much away: the goblins see people with mind-altering powers as a natural part of their world, but their powers are frightening to others, and they are normally kept under very strict control. Our protag begins by violating quite a few New Order principles, but their relationship to morality past this point is up to the player (and there are certainly many morally-gray decisions to be made). 

It's great to hear you enjoyed the music! (I'll pass that on to our composer) The extras menu (including audio player) wasn't fully implemented in the prototype, so that's definitely something you'll see changing haha

We're overhauling a lot of the art and UI for our next release (looking to preview in next dev log), but everything will remain mostly grayscale with deep shadows, so it's always interesting to hear what impression that makes. Unfortunately I can't answer the question of why goblins seem to see in grayscale without spoilers, so I'll have to leave that to the imagination for now. ; )

You're likewise going to see some alterations to the character designs, though I think you'll find the new look will make them even more distinct.

Thanks again for sharing thoughts. We'll be keeping that good feedback in mind as we proceed!

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πŸ‘€πŸ‘€πŸ‘€πŸ‘€πŸ‘€

oooh those were some tantalizing details

I'm looking forward to ur devlog and revamped game!!

I'm glad my comments were helpful! I like to leave long comments when I like something so the folks who make yummy content will know how much I like it :3 I had more thoughts, but my comment was already too long :p If you ever want to hear all my feedback just let me know uou

(+1)

Totally <3 If you have more observations to share, feel free to DM me @yozhikisblue on either Insta or Twitter! (also linked in my itch.io profile)

(+2)

oh my gosh, that ending! what a tease. I absolutely adore everything about this so far - the art, mood, worldbuilding, characters, concept....I'm so excited to explore the story further. 

Aha sorry for the cliffhanger x') But it's wonderful to hear you enjoyed it so far. There's still a lot of world and story to see! You're welcome to follow along with out dev logs as we continue to update the artwork and music and ensure the rest of Chapter One is just as, if not more polished than the game jam demo! Any feedback along the way is very much appreciated <3

(+1)

THIS IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING
I get vibes that this is the story I didn't know I always wanted O_O

(+1)

That's so awesome to hear! 

 I hope the full chapter one release will live up to your expectations. Feel free to follow along with our dev log updates if you're interested in watching it come together ~<3

I hope you don't mind that I made a first impressions reaction. Very nice work!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUuzbNl9e9g&t=293s

I just had a chance to see your video this evening. Thank you so much for taking the time! 

The feedback was great. Especially when it comes to balancing contrast in the portrait art and text placement more generally. We'll be updating a lot of visual elements from their early game jam form as we go along, and that's definitely something to keep in mind.

It's also great to hear that you enjoyed the game so far <3 We would love to hear your thoughts on the upcoming full chapter one release.

Absolutely loved the world and look forward to playing the full game!  Thank you for making the demo available!!!


Two unconventional language things I encountered during my playthrough are reproduced here (along with more standard English revisions) in case they are typos.

(citizenship) > There had to be a possibility of returning victorious to reclaim our citiznehsip.
(mercifully) > By then, we were merciful deep. 

Ah, thank you so much for taking the time to point the odd words out! The longer the story gets the harder it can be to spot those sneaky typos, and we definitely want to keep them to a minimum.

It's also great to hear that you enjoyed the world and story so far. We'll be posting devlogs with our process, so feel free to follow if you'd like to be the first to see updates on the complete first chapter release!  <3

Looks so interesting so far! Can't wait to play more!!

Thank you, that's awesome to hear! Chapter One is well on its way, and we'll be releasing dev logs about it soon, so feel free to follow if you want updates <3

This was one of the most compelling introductions I've ever read, right from the start. The prose is beautiful without being overly verbose or clunky, and the choice to go for a monochrome palette contributes to the sense of oppression. I also liked how sparse and plodding the soundtrack's been, so far. One and most of the cast (barring Seven) have given in to their descent, and the music communicated that fatalistic sense of trudging forward. The character designs are also great, the expressions of each character can change their whole demeanor from comforting to intimidating in an instant. It made me feel on edge, and reminded me that One was being watched just as much as we were watching everyone else.

Following up such a strong intro will probably be a challenge, but I'm really looking forward to seeing more of this game! It's so intriguing and I can't wait to learn more about the world, the game systems, and the characters!

Thank you so much for your feedback <3

It's great to hear the character expressions can be impactful. The first chapter is mostly complete, and reading character behaviour is a big part of the decision making process throughout that portion of the story ("the first descent") so it was very important for me to make that effective!

We're also looking at character-specific themes in the music going forward, as this is certainly a very character-driven story.

We hope our soon-to-be chapter one release will live up to expectations!

Ah!!! I hadn't read that this was only a prototype... I doomed myself lol I was so absorbed in the story and atmosphere that I was absolutely jarred when it stopped. This is wonderful, and I eagerly await the finished product.

I love how detailed the characters are, from how they're illustrated and their expressions to each of their distinct and unique personalities. They've each got an enticing depth to them that I'm so, so anxious to further uncover. The writing itself is very clear and wonderfully descriptive, too, eloquent in a way that speaks volumes of the amount of thought put into it. It's astounding how well the story's foundations have been laid in such a brief excerpt.

I also like how the text is formatted, like the way the text stops, how certain words are made bold or spaced far apart... One example that stood out specifically was that thought sequence during the letter-writing scene where the fragments floated throughout the box. It's refreshing and pretty fun, since I haven't seen many VNs that have sought to utilize formatting as freely as this.

Everything, coupled with the atmospheric, intense and fittingly eerie music tells me that once this is fully released I'll probs have trouble putting this down lol. There's probably a bit more I could say, honestly, but whew!!! Anyway! Quality work!! Very promising hehe

Thank you for you thoughts, and for such in-depth feedback as well! There's actually quite a lot more of the game completed than the demo suggests (we just couldn't get it polished in time for the jam) so hopefully you won't have to wait long. I'm also preparing some devlogs to track our progress. You're welcome to follow along for those if you'd like <3

Such an incredibly intriguing setting!
The tone is established as eerie and somber from the start, and you really feel the uncertainty in your fellow wards.

Love the art, the hint at world-building and the mystery, it cut me off desperately wanting more, and I will be following this project as it grows!

Thank you so much for the feedback!

There's a lot more world and story to be seen, and we're very excited to show it. <3