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Bloomtown: A Different Story Demo Impressions

Bloomtown A Different Story Artwork 001

Bloomtown: A Different Story is a traditional RPG unfolding in a seemingly idyllic Americana setting. The game’s unique narrative revolves around twelve-year-old Emily and her younger brother Chester, sent to live with their grandfather in Bloomtown for the summer. Expecting a mundane time of running errands for their fierce and eccentric relative, the duo soon realizes that Bloomtown is not as peaceful as it appears.

The overimaginative Emily soon has a foreboding dream in which the head honcho of Demonkind pressures her into an infernal contract. Demons are wreaking havoc behind the scenes in Bloomtown, and Emily possibly holds the key to stopping them. She has to do so within the set time limit of her summer visit, or her soul is forfeit.

Not long after this bizarre dream, Emily and Chester get roped into helping some local kids search for one of their own: the latest in a long string of child disappearances in Bloomtown. With the “help” of her newfound demon partner, Emily soon discovers the demonic Underside that exists parallel to the town. Can Emily and Chester, along with new friend Ramona and the talkative canine Hugo, survive the perils of the nefarious Underside and save the day within their summer frame, all while keeping their souls intact? If nothing else, Bloomtown: A Different Story’s short demo certainly sets up an exciting premise!

Emily exploring an old-fashioned general store in Bloomtown: A Different Story.
You’ll explore all sorts of locations within Bloomtown.

Bloomtown’s RPG trappings are apparent from the very beginning. Despite the protagonist, Emily, having a set personality and background, players receive many dialogue options when interacting with other characters, and these responses flavor how scenes play out. There’s also a point system regarding Emily’s various personality traits. You can give points to different personality traits, eventually leveling them up. This point-collecting system causes social dialogue options associated with those traits to have a greater chance of success. Proficiency and knowledge are the two in which I invested a lot of my focus during my demo run. These traits also increase depending on Emily’s actions and deeds exploring the town, such as helping with side quests. When they show up, these unique dialogue options combine with a dice roll to pinpoint their effectiveness. The higher your trait level, the more likely the dice roll will be successful.

There are a ton of activities around Bloomtown once Emily and Chester settle in, such as running errands for the residents or helping out at a local business for extra pay. This early-stage demo also showcased maintaining a garden, one of the optional minigames you can partake in. On the surface, the gardening minigame is rather simplistic, but it showcases a promise of variety that Bloomtown may provide down the road. You also gain acquaintances amongst the many residents of Bloomtown, helping you participate in said activities more efficiently.

Bloomtown: A Different Story's battles take place in the Underside, with the party facing off against colorful and somewhat gross enemies.
Battles in the Underside require strategy.

Of course, the biggest draw of Bloomtown is exploring the Underside and the perils found within. These dungeon areas are rife with puzzles and dangerous foes that appear on screen. You can attack enemies first for a normal-geared battle, but a slightly more difficult fight ensues should they happen upon you first. Battles are turn-based, tactical affairs in which you aim to whittle down your enemies’ health and capture them so that you can add their abilities to your arsenal. All four party members in the demo have demonic partners with unique skills you can call upon for aid. For example, Ramona’s partner has the valuable Heal spell, while Emily’s inflicts the Burn status effect on opponents. Setting an enemy on fire damages them at the end of their turn and makes your water and ice elemental attacks more effective. Combining Burn with Hugo’s ice attack ability was strategically devastating in the first dungeon. Status effects can also have significant impact during combat, such as casting Woozy on an opponent to prevent them from using their special attacks and abilities.

Overall, combat is easy to get the hang of but nuanced enough that you want to experiment with it to gain a tactical advantage. I found clearing the portion of the dungeon available in this demo challenging due to the limited amount of healing items available. Still, I opted not to prepare more before voyaging further, so that was more on me than the game itself!

In Bloomtown, there’s a clock to pay attention to, but there is ample time to do everything you want on a given day, at least at the early stage of the game that the demo showcases. The demo is controller-friendly, and if you need to, you can quickly look through objectives in closer detail and examine a helpful map of the town when needed. There’s a text log as well, should you need it.

Emily's party explores the Underside, specifically a ruined room with tentacles coming up through the floor, in Bloomtown: A Different Story.
The Underside certainly has a different aesthetic than Bloomtown.

Graphics-wise, the pixel work is excellent and sharp, with a clear contrast between idyllic Bloomtown and the more deadly Underside. The music fits the setting and situations Emily’s party encounters. However, the script does need some added attention and work. There are several grammar and typographical errors throughout the demo, the most prominent being “kidness” instead of “kindness” in some parts. However, the overall story presentation with likable, colorful characters is very intriguing. The lack of a manual saving option might be a dealbreaker for some, though I did find that the game auto-saves somewhat regularly, particularly in the Underside, so I didn’t miss a step the one time I got a game over.

Bloomtown: A Different Story has elements that remind me of the Persona series, along with plot and visual themes from TV shows like Gravity Falls and Stranger Things. I was intrigued and invested in the short journey that the demo provides. Bloomtown: A Different Story is something rather special, especially if it gets some much-needed polish to its script.

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Audra Bowling

Audra Bowling

Audra Bowling is a reviewer for RPGFan. She is a lover of RPGs, Visual Novels, and Fighting Games. Once she gets onto a subject she truly feels strongly about, like her favorite games, she can ramble on and on endlessly. Coffee helps keep her world going round.

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