March 2, 2023
Lychee Game Labs are some pesky developers. At first glance, you feel as though Patch Quest is a cute little roguelike exploration game where you collect creatures, get in an occasional fight, and keep a log of all your discoveries at a relatively peaceful pace. It doesn’t help that the world is so colourful and the critters are sweet little fellas with adorable names. Even the title doesn’t scream “death is inevitable” or “endure and survive.” Despite learning quickly that this is no walk in the park, its challenge is only one facet of why I loved playing.
You play as an explorer who traverses various biomes with a thirst for discovery. Patchlantis is filled with secret paths, treacherous plant life, and monsters that really don’t want to be your friend. The island has been overtaken by nature, and it’s your job to understand what is going on while trying to keep track of it all through research, normally in the way of defeating whatever is attempting to kill you. Every time you die, the patches that connect to one another change and reshuffle, meaning every new playthrough is different and new encounters are never the same.
You are more than equipped to deal with the dangers you encounter. For starters, you have a weapon that can fire various types of ammo. By finding fruit throughout Patch Quest, your blaster changes ammo types. As you progress, you’ll fire homing bananas, rapid fire grapes, explosive onions, and more. Some ammo types aren’t as good as others, or rather they may not fit in with your playstyle, but the variety will help you to decide which ones you equip. Once your ammo gauge runs out, you’ll fire a huge burst of whatever’s left in your barrel, but there’ll be a short pause after when your weapon reloads. This plays into what strategy you take when fighting off the waves of various creatures you encounter.
Patch Quest goes full-on bullet hell at times, and you’ll find more often than not that these encounters can be overwhelming. Thankfully, the ability to mount monsters and utilise their skills and abilities becomes a godsend when fleeing and dodging, traversing the environment, and fighting the cantankerous and violent inhabitants of Patchlantis. You’re equipped with a lasso that can connect with foes, and as long as you circle them while the lasso is attached, they’ll be yours for a limited time. You can send them back to your base and later call them into battle, but if they get tired before doing so, you’ll lose them forever.
The more your bond grows, the more abilities they unlock. For example, Billy the Lightling (yeah, you can name them) was able to levitate across swamps so I didn’t get all sticky, and they were also itch proof. Barry the Zirrel had a scythe that swiped through enemies, and Roger the Torrentoise was a defensive beast who I grew quite fond of. There’re tons of monsters for you to befriend and bond with, and back at base camp, you can acquire plantlife and minerals to further grow your bond as long as you pay attention to their needs. Exploring Patchlantis will let you investigate and pin flora so that it can grow back at base camp, and the more you find, the better your explorer rank becomes.
With every new level of the explorer rank, you’ll unlock permanent buffs that feature in four specific categories: blaster, lasso, mount, and clothes. These new abilities can help in a multitude of ways, such as mount charges providing 50% extra power, running faster when your lasso is connected, making a fruity ammo smoothie by combining ammo, and loads more. You’re more than equipped to take on the threatening island you find yourself on, but the difficulty is set so that you’re rarely one step ahead. Sometimes the combat feels a little repetitive, but due to the range of ammo combinations and enemy types, there’re plenty of opportunities to mix things up.
Patch Quest is an endearing adventure filled with some genuinely tough encounters, but you’re always upgrading your own stats on each run through, and there’re pillars that provide new perks along the way. The biomes are filled with new creatures and plantlife, as well as new environmental challenges and traps, but there’re plenty of shortcuts to be found. It manages to balance difficulty with the thrill of exploration and discovery, and never feels repetitive. Thanks to the wealth of creatures to mount and capture, and some tough as nails combat, Lychee Game Labs has crafted a treat of a roguelike Metroidvania, and you’d be silly to miss out on this one.
Exploration is enjoyable
Plenty of mountable creatures
A wide range of ammo and upgrades
Combat can be repetitive
Battles are tough and restrictive
Patch Quest is an enjoyable roguelike that is both adorable and tough, featuring a wide range of creatures to capture and fight.