PatchQuest is a deceptively cute 2D roguelike with monster taming mechanics. The player takes over the role of an adventurer that just discovered the patchlands, so your main goal is to chart the place and find as many treasures as you can.
You are also accompanied by your robot assistant, which has a really funny voice, and usually gives you tips. The patchlands are inhabited by ferocious monsters, but the adventurer has an ace up their sleeve. How does this roguelike stand up? Find out in our PatchQuest review!
Developer: Lychee Game Labs
Publisher: Curve Games
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Microsoft Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: March 2nd, 2023
PatchQuest doesn’t really meander with a long introduction sequence and excessive tutorials, instead choosing to drop the player straight into gameplay with some hints here and there.
Most of the mechanics are pretty straightforward, you can walk around and shoot a cocktail of soothing substances to calm the hostile monsters down. Its main mechanic is what makes the game really shine.
PatchQuest lets you tame every enemy in the game, with the ability to mount them and use their skills. Personally, I am a sucker for minion mechanics in any video-game, so this immediately had me hooked.
Each enemy has four skills, one evasive, two offensive and an ultimate one, which they all use consistently in gameplay, even against you.
The player can level up their mounted companion and the levels carry over throughout the species. The player is incentivized to keep leveling up different animals, since your favorite one may not be available on all parts of the map.
Taming the animals is a tough game of wrangling them with a lasso and running lapses around them, which can prove really difficult when a lot of enemies are on screen.
You can watch some of my gameplay below:
Each tamed animal has a stamina meter, so the player needs to be careful not to lose their mount mid-combat, this is especially important because the player has no evasive options when unmounted.
Patch Quest’s gameplay feels really similar to the usual room-to-room mechanics of games like The Binding of Isaac and Cult of the Lamb‘s exploration segments, and it does them very well.
The game’s tiles are randomized, but the main map isn’t, meaning that the player will always know their way to an objective, they just don’t know what will be on their path there.
The concept of a metroidvania with a fully randomized map can be absolutely abysmal, as shown in games like Sunderedwhich make navigation a nightmare. PatchQuest takes the smart route by only randomizing the room’s contents rather than its placement.
PatchQuest seems to take joy in hiding behind its cutesy art style, taking the player by surprise with crazy bullet hell gameplay at times.
The game isn’t Touhou levels of difficulty, and is really approachable due to its very well-crafted difficulty curve. It never seems to crescendo into becoming actually hard, it’s just chaotic.
The underground dungeons seem to be some of the hardest content the game can offer, but even then, there seems to be only one per biome.
Every biome has its own set of status effects that it can cause on the player, from making them stick to objects to making them less accurate or making their shots slower. The player can also inflict these status effects on enemies, and some mounts make the player immune to specific statuses.
These status effects can lead to some absolutely chaotic rooms, where you are constantly sticking to objects, enemies are frenzying, your mount just abandoned you, and you are doing your best to stay afloat, trying to lasso an enemy while also dodging everything.
On top of that, the player can also collect fruits to change how their weapon’s shots behave, similar to the power-ups in the Contra games. The player can also attempt a point-blank shot on an enemy for extra damage, which rewards riskier play.
It feels almost impossible to condense all of PatchQuest‘s features into one post, even shooting your gun, the most basic part of gameplay, has a lot of mechanics attached to it. The game has a very simple control scheme, but it manages to do so much with it without overwhelming the player.
PatchQuest also has this name for a reason, as the game’s maps are patches with stickers on them. This leads to a very clean and easy-to-understand art style, but it also fits really well with the theme of collecting.
Taming a monster, finding a new plant and acquiring a new artifact, all of those things are stickers that get added to your encyclopedia, and it can become really addicting to try and find all of these collectibles.
The player can also build their own base with the stickers they find, which allows you to customize your weapon loadout at the beginning of a run. There are also missing patches of land in the game’s map, which can be filled with stickers you have collected for different bonuses.
One of the things that makes PatchQuest such an outstanding game is the fact that it was developed by a single person over a 7 year period. I maintained the same level of scrutiny for PatchQuest that I have for every other game, but I can’t help but be amazed at the fact that such a fun and polished game was made by a single person.
I found PatchQuest really fun as a roguelike, but a tad lacking in variety. A common staple of roguelikes is itemization, which unfortunately is nowhere to be found in PatchQuest. The game lacks the fun RNG element of finding a bunch of broken items and having an insanely good run, or finding a bunch of trash and having to make do.
This is due to the game’s metroidvania nature, getting a very good run would mean that you would clear the entire map in one go, so it makes sense that itemization isn’t a thing, but at the same time, it leads to most runs feeling the same.
PatchQuest manages to be very competent both as a roguelike and bullet hell, but compromises some of the qualities that both genres have.
Patch Quest was reviewed on Microsoft Windows using a game code provided by Curve Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Patch Quest is available for the PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Microsoft Windows (through Steam).