At first glance, the world of PatchQuest is inviting, colorful, and warm. However, you soon come face to face with a colossal web-slinging spider, and suddenly, the world seems much more dangerous.
In PatchQuest, you play as an explorer looking to stitch together the quilted world of Patchlantis with the help of your monster pals. Your first few hours are an amalgamation of numerous games that have come before it: You can tame monsters à la Pokémon, collect items à la The Binding of Isaacand dodge for your life at the Enter the Gungeon. But despite its clear inspirations, developer Lychee Game Labs has created something unique: a monster-taming roguelike all its own.
Every time you begin on a quest, you get lost in Patchlantis’ labyrinth of a world with your monster-taming lasso and trusty blaster with one goal in mind: Pin the world back together, one patch at a time. At the outset, I ventured into Patchlantis and met my first enemy, a mere moth. The frail bug seemed like a weak partner, but after taming the Hypnoth, it proved to be a dominant ally, whose power to make other beasts dizzy more than made up for its puny stature.
On the back of your new colleague, you’ll travel through the quilt maze, defeating opposing animals and powering up with fruit ammo and charms. You clash with bosses, unlock shortcuts, and collect plants until you meet your eventual demise, at which point you return to your base camp. Before setting out on another quest, you gain perks to bolster your explorer and scatter plants around the camp to strengthen your beloved pets, preparing you for your next journey.
Now, we’re ready to pin the patches of the world back together—Hold on, is that an armadillo with a hat? That’s what I’m talking about! The animals and creatures inside PatchQuest lured me in with their cute demeanors (even the creepy-crawlies), but many of them are not interested in being my friend — some are feral beasts simply looking for their next meal. The animals of PatchQuest are born wild and undomesticated, but rather than taming and collecting these animals, I must eliminate them.
Their projectiles clutter my screen, and I try my best to dodge with the minimal space I have. There are definitely points where I should take damage, or even die, but PatchQuest is forgiving in its tool set. Rather than dodging, I can destroy or deflect projectiles, and sometimes, my “dodging level,” which gives you a chance to take no damage when hit, is high enough to evade all but the most cluttered bursts.
Several hours in, PatchQuest began to feel a little too forgiving, so I checked the difficulty settings, only to discover that I’d been playing on the lowest difficulty possible. As the Gamer that I am, I upped the difficulty to “Level 8: Lethal.” Oh, did I soon learn that I am not the Gamer I thought I was. PatchQuest‘s difficulty settings run the spectrum from inviting and approachable to punishing and chaotic. Much of the joy of PatchQuest stems from revisiting higher difficulties once you unlock perks and level up your newfound companions.
After some experimentation and trial and error (also known as dying many times), I felt good about my understanding of PatchQuest‘s core gameplay loop. Although the maze itself is predetermined, the enemies and patches themselves are different every time, which gives you a fresh experience for each run.
The beginning of PatchQuest can take some time to fully flesh out, but each quilt starts from a singular thread and needle. It quickly weaves in new gameplay elements to prevent it from getting dusty or matted. Monster-taming forces you to diversify your play style, and it doesn’t just feel like a random gimmick to make itself different. The quest system gives you a sense of direction in the winding labyrinth, and the shortcuts make it so that you’re not just endlessly navigating the maze to get to your objective. The combat ropes you back in and ties you into that satisfying roguelike loop of upgrading your gear and improving on your last quest.
It’s impressive — especially for a game developed by a single person — how many disparate genres and how many distinct gameplay loops PatchQuest manages to juggle, without letting a single one fall. It may be a Pokémon, Castlevania, Binding of Isaac, Enter the Gungeon smoothie, but it’s a smoothie that I plan on ordering time and time again.
PatchQuest was released on March 2 on Windows PC. The game was reviewed using a pre-release download code provided by Curve Games. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.