It’s time to realize your deepest, most secret dream: taking up the mantle as a blacksmith potato.
Have you ever wondered where the weapons in video games – be that shooters, RPGs or platformers – come from? From the lowliest dagger to the most elegant crossbow? Well wonder no more! Fill your boots with Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! and finally be that weapon smith.
There’s never really been a good look at the support characters who provide these weapons, pouring blood, sweat and tears into their beautiful creations, only to sell them to some adventurer who at the first chance will swap out said weapon for something that’ll let them set stuff on fire. Sure we’ve had these support characters all the way through video game history and on occasion the writers of said video games might have given them a line or two about how hard they work, or their own secret dreams to be an adventurer, but there’s not a lot about where you can become that support character for a change.
But Singapore-based Daylight Studios have given us this chance, and all through the medium of potatoes. Lovingly put together, HPAW! sees you taking over your grandfather’s forge and taking up the mantle as blacksmith. Running along the same game mechanics as Game Dev Tycoon, select a weapon to craft, pick the attribute booster to attach and away you go. Rinse, repeat, sell on the world map and receive feedback from your customers. If you find doing a similar thing over and over again tedious or downright yawn-inducing this probably won’t be for you. Because everything is based on forging weapons – you’ll obtain fame by selling them, undertake side quests which involves making them, and more. If you don’t forge weapons you won’t go anywhere in this game.
To help you along the way you have other blacksmith apprentices (appren-toes?) and their designs are all based on geek culture icons. Laura Craft is your first appren-to and she is a Designer – she’s great at adding the Attack attribute to weapons. There are 4 classes altogether, all bringing different skills to the table and you’ll need to balance this out in order to be a successful smith. But these guys don’t work for free! This is where some careful planning comes into play. Because while you might want to sink a lot of Starch into researching new weapons to craft, is it necessary at this point in time? You’ve got staff wages and rent to pay at the end of each month. You have materials to buy (or scavenge), and eventually your workers will need time off – and you pay for their holiday. How generous!
And while it’s true you might be able to churn out hundreds of weapons to sell on, if you don’t balance the attributes correctly depending on who you’re selling to, you won’t get as much money for them and your adventuring customers might poo-poo your efforts. That’ll mean bad business and that means no money. Such a harsh life the smithing potato leads.
However, it is this balancing act that makes HPAW! so addictive, alongside other little details such as leveling up adventurers and your staff (skill tree ahoy!), undertaking research, scavenging for materials and maybe, just maybe, creating a weapon great enough to enter the annual awards.
The visual design throughout is spot-on for a game-homage. With striking designs for each region you explore, the upgrades for your forge and the items you can buy as passive stat boosters this game has had a lot of time and love go into it. And every character is a potato – you even get a literal potato dog to help boost the mood in your forge.
We are also treated to geek culture references left, right and center: most of the characters can be found in other video games or programs we played or watched growing up. Craft Half Life 3 for Gordon Freeman, sell rifles to Final Fantasy’s Cid and even entertain the thought of crafting a weapon for Glados as part of a test. It’s this interaction with well-established characters that brings a real sense of nostalgia that is the potato topping on the hot pot for HPAW!
Seems silly? Good, because it’s supposed to be healthy, silly fun for a wide age range. You play as a potato! Making weapons for adventuring potatoes! This is a visually beautiful, light-hearted game that you can lose yourself in for hours at a time. Charming and addictive.