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  • Writer's pictureNate Hermanson

LudoNarraCon Mini-Preview: Yoink the words straight out of mouths in Great God Grove

It takes the phrase "from your lips to god's ears" to a new level


Communication is key, gang. In work, in life, in your relationships. And yes, in gaming too. I'm not talking about competitive game callouts either. I'm talking about the nitty-gritty things you can pick up on by actually listening to characters in narrative games — what you pick up on from reading between the lines they deliver and in how you choose to approach other characters in the world and communicate with them.


Some of my favorite communication-forward narrative game experiences come from LimboLane Games. Whether it's their 2019 debut release, Smile for Me, or the brief snippet we've played of their follow up, Great God Grove, they've shown an ability to wield communication as a weapon as worthy as any in the pantheon of gaming weapons.


Great God's Grove has a playable demo during LudoNarraCon, the narrative game festival taking place on Steam from May 9 13, and for anyone left ravenous for more after Smile for Me (hi, it's us), this is a must-pick-up demo.


The Great God Grove key art. A strange wiry cowboy with big round glasses stares at a collection of characters in the foreground. A blue-skinned sweaty tube-like person raises fists at them. A noodle-necked skeletal nun looks on mournfully. And a silhouette of another cowboy character with a megaphone-like device stands counter to the other cowboy. In the background, silhouettes of other characters can be seen and the game's title sits in the bottom right.

Just the Facts

Developer: LimboLane Games

Publisher: Fellow Traveller

Platform(s): PC

Release Date: Fall 2024

Early access to demo provided by publisher.


Welcome to the grove


Limbolane Games is a video game development duo that siphons its name from its two core members: Yugo Limbo (art and animation) and Day Lane (programming and 3D art). Their focus on inclusion, queer stories, and "making things that squish and bounce" is a big reason why they caught our attention back in the days of Smile for Me, and why we were eagerly anticipating whatever they'd produce next.


Smile for Me's main gimmick was popularly labeled a nod-n-shake adventure game: the way your character interacted with others was by nodding or shaking their head and presenting items they found in the world. Limiting your interactions to nonverbal communication in this way while still delivering deep interpersonal character moments made Smile for Me something exquisitely special and fiercely well loved. It turned out to be a trippy adventure through a strange facility filled with charming oddball characters.


And that's kind of what Great God Grove promises to be, too, except this time a trippy adventure hustling messages across strange landscapes to cure the woes and squabbles of a peculiar collection of deities.


In Great God Grove, you're a cowboy clothes-clad drifter who roams into town and inherits a role of great importance. The grove is home to a strange set of gods — like The God of Teamwork or The God of Invention — and the people who worship them. Here, it's not uncommon for the world to be in danger of ending. But this time, King, the God of Communication, has abandoned the gods, his job, and the people who once adored him. His departure has set things into chaos as the gods are hopelessly distracted and the generational apocalypse in the sky (or a-pocky-lips as some in the world call it) has no one left to stop it.


Since you bear a striking resemblance to King and since his vacuum-like mail delivery tool, the Megapon, ends up in your lap... you take up his former role and seek to fill the space he once held. By taking up the mail mantle, you'll be very quickly integrated into this strange little community and just as quickly charmed by it.


LimboLane's strength in Smile for Me was its cast of characters, and the silly doofs who inhabit the grove show that the team is continuing the trend in Great God Grove. From the aloof God of Leadership, Inspekta, and his dutiful batch of Boy Scout-like Bizzyboys, to the charming couple of the buff and powerful Lumber Jacqueline and the hopelessly whimpery Bug Wurth, LimboLane has another group of winners here. And the apocalyptic stakes leave you feeling desperate to save these weirdos as soon as possible.


An animated GIF of the game Great God Grove. It depicts the game's main mechanic of using the Megapon tool to suck up text boxes and add them to your inventory. The main character is dressed in cowboy garb and they take the phrase "I thwear it... swear on my life." from a person in a cooking apron. A blinking TV can be seen to the side of this kitchenette.

You took the words right out of my mouth!


In their first public demo, LimboLane gives you a glimpse at Great God Grove's opening hour, tasking you with finding out why a skeletal nun is crying and introducing you to your gameplay tool: the Megapon.


If Smile for Me was a nod-n-shake adventure game, Great God Grove is a suck-n-blow adventure game. (I'm sorry but it was right there and it's actually so accurate, I swear.) You use the Megapon's vacuum-like qualities to help people learn to communicate with one another properly. You're not a conventional mail-carrier; you suck up their literal words and shoot them at the people who need to hear them. For example, Lumber Jacqueline is sick of waiting for her crush to confess to her and Bug Wurth is a bit too shy to do it all himself. So catch him longing for her and talking about just how much he likes her, snatch the word bubble right out of the air, and go launch it right at Lumber Jacqueline — problem solved.


In the demo, it's fairly straightforward how it all works, and you can pretty easily puzzle out who needs to hear what, but I'd be interested to see if the full game features more flexibility in how to solve each god's troubles. If Smile for Me is anything to go by, this team knows how to wrench creative solutions out of limited gameplay mechanics, so I'm excited by its potential.


The Megapon's got a ton of unique uses outside of dialogue-yoinking, too: drying off an always-doused researcher who can't read her notes if she's soaked, grabbing loose planks out of a river to rebuild a bridge, and removing anchors from a ship to help it dock. These small things encourage experimentation with the Megapon, and I hope the full game rewards curiosity, because you know I was trying to suck up anything and everything in the demo.


One of my favorite things in narrative-heavy games is when its gameplay finds a clever way to lean into its themes. And literally weaponizing what people say to help (and probably sometimes hurt) them is a phenomenal example of that.


An in-game screenshot of Great God Grove. It depicts one of its live-action cutscenes featuring a puppet character from the Bizzyboys gang. A lazy-eyed green tinted puppet with its tongue out and wearing a beret, wields a frying pan. In front of them, a strange blue-tinted steak can be seen on a plate. Subtitles show they're saying "Now that da meat is tender, we gotta cook it down."

Double Fine vibes + Remedy's mixed media = LimboLane


What the demo also showcases is one more example of this team's confident style, built out of Yugo Limbo's distinctive art and a constantly shifting mixed-media style. It starts familiar in first-person with light 3D art and Limbo's incredibly stylish 2D characters, just like Smile for Me. Then, it switches to a more traditional top-down 2D experience once you get into the world, and before too long, actual puppets get involved. It's mixed media at its most charming.


If I had to play the comparison game, it feels like Scott Campbell's Psychonauts work got dropped into a blender with Remedy Entertainment's mixed media approach to storytelling, all brought to fruition by Limbo's psychedelia-meets-cartoon sensibilities. I struggle to make plain statements like that because LimboLane's style is so unique and realized here. Their warm-toned color design, characters with exaggerated features that border on uncanny at times whose big emotions are animated beautifully, and grandiose gods in full 3D rendered to an appropriately intimidating scale — it's inimitably LimboLane.


Getting even the tiniest preview of this new world and its strange characters (my favorite being the giant skeletal nun, Miss Mitternacht) has me excited for where things will go for this bizarre bunch of gods. LimboLane's aesthetic choices always work for me. It's kitschy, it's campy, it's weird. It's great.


An in-game screenshot of Great God Grove. A strange god-like being with spiky vine-like arms stands before the player with a giant smile. A bow wraps a cornhusk-like drapery around their body.

Great God Grove looks to release later this year, and I encourage folks to give the (decently lengthy) demo a try. It's a perfect appetizer for the full meal, and we're ready to inhale it with our Megapon the minute it drops. As always, if you like what you see and play, drop the game a wishlist.


It might just be the only way to stop the a-pocky-lips.


Check out more of our LudoNarraCon 2024 coverage, and follow us at twitch.tv/Naetoid 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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