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  • Writer's pictureNate Hermanson

LudoNarraCon Mini-Preview: Angeline Era's bumpslashing adventure fills an unexpected need

Updated: May 10

We launched VGG with a mission to champion indie games and spotlight those that may otherwise slip under the radar. Despite our dedication, there are still teams we haven't had the pleasure of covering on our site — teams that I've admired from afar for a long time; ones that have evolved and are spending their days creating games that demand your attention.

Analgesic Productions is one of them: a team whose esoteric works of art truly stand out amidst an industry so focused on chasing trends.

Their latest game, Angeline Era, trims the fat from action gaming and makes it all about one thing: bumpslashing.

And it's SO COOL.

We went hands on with their first public demo, playable during LudoNarraCon 2024, the narrative game festival on Steam spearheaded by Fellow Traveller from May 9 – 13. Here's the scoop on how it won me over.

The Angeline Era key art. The game's hero, Tets Kinoshta, stands with their sword at the ready. They have green hair and teal pants. Behind them, an angelic being with a crown and flowing white hair stands regally. Off to the left, another angelic being flies through the space-like setting. Planets and floating landmasses fill out the background and the game's title floats off to the left of the image.

Just the Facts

Developer: Melos Han-Tani, Marina Kittaka (of Analgesic Productions)

Publisher: Analgesic Productions

Platform(s): PC and Mac 2025 | Xbox, PlayStation, Switch TBD

Release Date: 2025

Early access to demo provided by developer.

Analgesic Productions is a studio of two, Melos Han-Tani and Marina Kittaka, who've been creating strange little masterpieces in their own corner of the indie sandbox since 2012. Their games capture the genuine adventuring vibes of Zelda titles, blend them up with dreamy writing, and present them in beautifully patched together art styles that blend low poly work with pixel art seamlessly. Their games are weird (complimentary) and every new release showcases a stronger grasp of their own unique vision.

Whether it's the dream-diving of the Anodyne series, the color block parkour action of Sephonie, or the environmental justice of Even the Ocean, Analgesic Productions is always trying something new. They're always pushing the medium in some way and doing it with a focus on narrative above all else. And they aim to do it as transparently as possible, being very open about their process on social media and even going so far as making a few of their games completely open source over the last few years.

They're dedicated to their niche. And that only continues with Angeline Era.

In Angeline Era, players control Tets Kinoshta, an ex G.I. who embarks on a journey inspired by arcane Christian myth and Irish fantasy. After receiving a vision from an angel, he finds himself on an unexpected journey that sees him as an important part of an ongoing conflict between angels and fae. Across his journey, Tets will use his trusty sword and gun combo to cut down strange kangaroo-like beasts, laser-shooting fish, and angry turnips. I'm being so real when I say I never knew what was waiting for me in any level, and when a game can truly capture that feeling of surprise, it accomplishes something special.

It's hard to even imagine where this game may go in its full release. The way Analgesic approaches teasing that in this demo is incredibly meta in a way that feels par for the course for their usual writing. Characters tell you what is waiting for you in the adventure plainly, a bookcase in a town reads out a synopsis of the adventure like the back of the box, and beetle enemies wearing red usher uniform caps guide you (shouting at you in caps lock, no less) through the play experience. Their writing jumps back and forth from plain and straightforward to poetic and undecipherable in the same encounter. It's unusual and I love it for that.

Analgesic is also known for seeding narrative across all of its systems, finding ways to deliver its story in nearly every possible way. The more time you spend exploring its world maps, the more secret maps you unlock whose purpose is only to further the game's worldbuilding and sense of adventure, the more item descriptions you read that fill out Tets' personality. It's sneaky how the story starts to creep into your brain, even without traditional cutscenes or handfed exposition. When I tried feeding Tets a specific food item to boost health, only for Tets to suddenly complain that it wasn't his favorite, suddenly something as simple and familiar as healing became a surprise moment of narrative. That's the kind of thing I love seeing, and Analgesic does it again and again throughout this one hour demo.

An in-game screenshot of Angeline Era. It depicts one of the game's boss fights against "Sixteen Fish". Sixteen blue fish encircle the arena with lasers shooting out of their mouths. Tets, the game's protagonist, is bumpslashing one of them to turn them away. This all takes place in a square arena in the middle of some underground lake cavern.

"Bumpslash" action and a secret-focused adventure

Angeline Era's action is defined simply by its one core mechanic: the bumpslash. It's certainly not a familiar term, but it's simpler than you'd expect. To attack enemies in the most effective way in Angeline Era, you merely bump into them, no action button needed. It feels unintuitive at the start — we've been taught to avoid contact with monsters from Day 1 in gaming. Having to run into them to hurt them? Monkey brain is confused.

But once you get used to it, it sings. Each "level" in Angeline Era is made up of small monster boxes where the action of bumpslashing is just as important as dodging their attacks. It's not unlike the early Ys games' bump combat, but with an extra emphasis on dodging through platforming. As the kind of gamer who loves movement — loves dodging and being pesky — bumpslash works for me. Finding the safe spots to land in a room full of enemies, picking your places to go for the bumpslash, and making sure to prioritize the most dangerous enemies in the process, it makes every combat encounter so fun to approach. And the boss battles, the few that are available in the demo, showcase that balance beautifully.

One of the things the team has talked about on social media is creating an engaging action game without overfilling it with mechanics or complicating things. So along with the bumpslash, you've got a ranged option in Tets' gun that only shoots directly forward and an item slot that gives you access to grenades, mines, and more. It allows some amount of flexibility in how you approach each fight, something the team emphasized from an accessibility perspective, but the game is built around the bumpslash, and it makes for an action gaming experience that feels brand new in 2024, despite its late '80s inspirations.

On the adventure side of the action-adventure formula, Angeline Era wastes no moments. Each level is full of fun little puzzles and platforming challenges. Exploring the world map even reveals its own secrets and surprising bits of platforming. And that exploration is rewarded as you dive into the map's nooks and crannies to use the game's fun "search" feature to uncover some hidden level or some way to unlock further parts of the map on any tile in the world. Then there are the first-person timed interstitials as you head into each new level that break up the action with little reflex-based, maze-like encounters.

Analgesic wants you poking and prodding at the not-so-neglected corners of their worlds. They want you to question the empty tile on the world map, to wonder about the strange placement of an enemy in some level. They make the kinds of games that feel like they still have mysteries years after release, and Angeline Era's structure feels built for that kind of fun secret-searching that seemed left in a past era. Between the efforts of Analgesic and games like Animal Well, we're more than satisfied with the return of secret-focused game design.

An in-game screenshot of Angeline Era. It depicts the game's overworld map. Tets, the game's main character, is walking away from a town tile on the map. Various fields of both shrubs and wheat can be seen, as well as a few entrances into new levels shown as small cave entrances in the sides of rockfaces.

Overworld map nostalgia is real

And if there's anything left to cover, it's Analgesic's incredible sense for nostalgic style.

The 4:3 presentation, the low-poly assets, the blending of 3D and 2D sprite work — Angeline Era nails the look of the PS1/PS2 era. One of the most fascinating things they've focused on are overworld maps, pulled straight out of RPGs like Final Fantasy 8.

As a kid, I always loved being spat out into the overworld, seeing the grand world abstracted into this zoomed out view and allowing you these tiny previews of the giant cities you were about to enter. I adored feeling the scale of the journey I was on communicated so succinctly, particularly when a tiny hole in the map turned into some grand cave system that took me... to the other side of what looked like a tiny mountain range.

Angeline Era nails the look and feel of those maps spectacularly here, and I cannot wait to see what awaits in the full game. If you were the kind of kid who imagined a whole world on those race car carpets from your childhood, like me, then you get the power of an overworld map. And you'll love what Angeline Era does with it here.

Having looked back through the development logs of Angeline Era, the team went a little bigger, a little more detailed in its look in the early going. In keeping things simple, Angeline Era's eventual landing spot, a softer and more rounded low-poly art style, ended up working in perfect harmony with its blocky tile-based level design. It creates a look that not only captures the vibe of a very particular kind of game masterfully but that helps to communicate its sneaky puzzles and secrets well, promoting curiosity in its players.

An in-game screenshot of Angeline Era. Walking along the cliffside of a tall peak, the game's main character, Tets can be seen wielding a sword and preparing for a big jump to another cliffside nearby. A strange beetle-like enemy can be seen on a high platform to the left and down on the ground is a strange goat-like kangaroo.

The music, the writing, the gameplay... what Angeline Era accomplishes is more than just pure nostalgia. Analgesic turns nostalgia into a tool for their unique voice, injecting freshness and originality into something many may otherwise see as stale. Analgesic Productions' voice is so needed in the industry, and this demo only further showcases that.

Check out more of our LudoNarraCon 2024 coverage, and follow us at to get notified when we go live with our LudoNarraCon demos stream!

The LudoNarraCon 2024 key art depicts a forest scene where a young witch does some spell atop a log stump. A dog wearing a wizard cap is at her feet, looking at a stone creature she seems to be working with. Strange robotic creatures walk around the log stump and statues with bright spotlights in their mouths can be seen at the edges of the forest.


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