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Video Game / Hylics

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Wayne, the Protagonist.

Hylics is a video game created by Mason Lindroth in 2015, described as "a recreational program with light JRPG elements."

Its world, from the environments to the battle sprites, is made entirely from pastel claymation. You play mainly as Wayne, a man with a waning moon for a head, on a vague quest to meet Gibby, the King of the Moon. The plot, if there can be said to be one, is heavily buried under symbolism and the general surrealism of the world.

The game can be downloaded here, and can be completed in about ~2 hours.

A sequel, Hylics 2, was released in 2020. Described as a "recreational program with a unique graphic style and droll scenario," it follows Wayne and company as they seek to prevent Gibby's resurrection.

On January 8th 2022. Lindroth started posting teasers and material for a third entry, though it is ambiguous if it would be a sequel, prequel or something else though it is set in the same world as the prior games.

Hylics contains examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Pongorma, Somsnosa, and Dedusmuln compared to Wayne, Gibby, and Dracula.
  • After the End: Implied by the ruins buried in the environment, and Dedusmuln considering a paper cup an archaeological treasure.
    • The second game gives more details about it. There was once an advanced worldwide civilization built by a race known as the Sages, but the world was devastated by a flying fortress known as Hylemxylem, an event known as "The Accretion." The revived Gibby rediscovered Hylemxylem and is trying to use it to recreate the old world and a new Moon.
  • All There in the Manual: The narrator's name, Dracula, is found in the game's files.note 
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The second game has some improvements over the first:
    • You only need to see a TV once for everyone to learn its respective gesture. In the first game, you had to re-visit each TV when a new character joined your party.
    • The permanent Flesh and Will increases are shared across all characters, whether they're part of the party yet or not.
    • You don't have to travel all over the world to find working water coolers. The only water cooler in the game is the one in the Airship, and it's reusable.
  • Apocalypse How: The Accretion caused at least a Class 1 with the old civilization apparently ending up buried underground and causing society to regress to a mixture of schizo-tech and medieval culture.
  • Art Evolution: Hylics 2 is a major shift in quality compared to the first. Everything from the character models to the animations to the environments are much more elaborately detailed, in part due to the switch from RPG Maker to Unity.
  • The Beforetimes: The Empire of the Sages which had airships, computers and other tech that is now found only in sparse locations.
  • Big Bad: Gibby, King of the Moon in the first game.
    • Odozeir, a loyal minion of Gibby, acts as the primary antagonistic force of Hylics 2 in his attempts to resurrect his master. He dies after his fight, and he's upstaged as the antagonist by the newly revived Gibby.
  • Big Good: The Sages who give Wayne and Co. various powers or clues to help in their quest.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The Afterlife in the first game. You start on a balcony, and can travel down some stairs to a lower one. The upper balcony is supported by pillars... which descend down over the top of the lower balcony in a way that doesn't make any Euclidean sense. You've got to wonder what it looks like from Wayne's perspective...
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Several stats are called strange things. Health and Mana are Flesh and Will, while base stats are things like Jollity, Texture and Philology.
  • Charged Attack: You can charge up your attacks in the sequel. It's way more useful than it sounds, since alongside boosting your next attack's power, it also alters the attacks unique to each party member.
  • Climax Boss: Gibby, in both games.
  • Dance Party Ending: After defeating Gibby in Hylics 2, Wayne and co. land on a concert stage where you can play the instruments for a cheering crowd.
  • Death as Game Mechanic: Instead of a standard game over, after dying you get sent to the Afterlife, which serves both as the fast travel hub and the way you level up (the game's equivalent of experience points must be manually redeemed here). Not only is player death fairly unpunishing, it's a core game mechanic.
  • Deflector Shields: Seen in the sequel and powered by... worms.
  • Did You Get a New Haircut?: Wayne asks this of Dedusmuln in Hylics 2 while on the airship. Dedusmuln replies that it's actually a "seasonally occurring lamellar structure".
  • Enemy Summoner: Tomb Shrub, a boss found within the catacombs. Turns out those "Sub Shrubs" you've been fighting on and off around the area are its offshoots, which it peppers the battlefield with to overwhelm you. Considering it's found amidst a bunch of vegetable plants... and each of them drop a vegetable when killed... exactly what was Wayne growing in his garden from the start of the game?
  • Genre Buster: Hylics 2 is a turn-based RPG with 3D-platforming elements, featuring a large 2D Action Platformer minigame and an entire area explored in first person, tile-based dungeon crawling style.
  • Glove Slap: Battles in Hylics 2 can be initiated by doing this.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • With the plot left to the player's speculation and most dialogue being randomly generated, figuring out what you're supposed to do can be difficult.
    • Hylics 2 doesn't have randomly generated text until the final act, and even then, the pause menu has a reminder of what your next objective is.
    • The Sage's Labyrinth in the sequel can be pretty annoying to traverse due to the first-person perspective. Finding every treasure, though? It can be a nightmare, thanks to the fact that everything is behind false walls (and lots of them don't have any hint to their presence). In fact, a paper cup and an entire Optional Boss can be missed within it.
  • Have a Nice Death: In both games, the game over animation shows Wayne's flesh melting off his face, leaving him as a skeleton.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The first encounter with Gibby Redivivus in the sequel.
  • Hub World: The Afterlife.
  • Human Resources: After battles, you obtain Meat, which can be exchanged for health in the Afterlife. In the sequel, the first Meat you are likely to collect is from what appears to be an injured and dying Wayne that lacks a carapace.
    • Also, the money machine in the first game, processing 3 subjects into 250K bucks each.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Due to the intentionally surreal and dream-like feeling of the game, along with its claymation, every single character and enemy in the game, with notable exceptions in Somsnosa and maybe Pongorma, is either this or a downright Eldritch Abomination in terms of design.
    • Made even more apparent with the enemies in the second game due to the higher amounts of animations and their otherworldly designs, combining to form creatures that might belong in nightmares.
    • The Waynes play this straight in the second game. In the first, aside from various cats that look like him, Wayne seems to just be a man with a strangely-shaped head. In the sequel, the Wayne "lineage" is revealed to vary in body type depending on age — Old Wayne is now a slug-like creature, whose only resemblance to the first game's Wayne is his yellow color and headshape.
  • Improbable Weapon User: ALL party members use gloves as weapons. Not to punch enemies, mind you, but to amplify the power of Gestures.
  • Last Disc Magic: The Skill learned from the Three Sages in the first game, Legend of Melting.
  • Legendary in the Sequel: The sequel starts at Waynehouse, in which an entire generation of new Waynes are raised and guided by Old Wayne.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: When killed, enemies in the second game explode in what can only be described as giant pieces of meat.
  • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: To be expected, given that most of the dialogue and location names in the first game are randomly generated, and the sequel is still quite strange even without randomized dialogue.
  • Magical Gesture: 'Gestures' seem to be the primary form of magic in the setting, including the standard Snap that replaces any other RPG's standard attack.
  • Meaningful Echo: One of the first trash cansnote  you can find in the game gives you nothing, but instead collapses, with the message "You accidentally crushed it." You'll find trash cans like this several times throughout the game. In the final steps of the game as you make your way towards Gibby, Wayne is faced with an onslaught of enemies marching towards him. But when you touch one, instead of a battle... "You accidentally crushed it," and it collapses. Cue massive Conservation of Ninjutsu as the party simply walks through Gibby's entire last line of defense, making the final boss himself seem all the more powerful in comparison.
  • Meaningful Name: Gibby and Wayne as mentioned below, but the title of the game, Hylics, is a reference to Gnosticism. A hylic is a body that's completely material — fitting for a world made of clay.
  • Mythology Gag: Somsnosa is named after another game Mason made for Ludum Dare 26.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Touching Ambulant Skulls and the statues in the graveyard causes instant death.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "You dare approach me? My feelings will embrace your memories until you beg me to hark! Now pardon thine little spirit. It is the last time you will." Spoken when you challenge Gibby. Somewhat downplayed, since it's just as subject to random word replacement as any other dialogue.
  • Resurrect the Villain: In the sequel, preventing this is your main goal. You fail, and Gibby Redivivus must be defeated.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Pongorma and Gibby are old enough to have lived in the pre-accretion world and witnessed the Empire of the Sages in its full glory.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Somewhere on the world map is a house that is a recreation of Crono's house from Chrono Trigger, complete with a woman and a cat on the first floor.
    • When the Mustelid enemies attack, the flavor text is "Mustelid (A/B/C) ripped your flesh!" This is a reference to the album Weasels Ripped My Flesh by Frank Zappa.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Gibby and Wayne, as in a Gibbous and Waning moon respectively. There's also Viewax in the sequel, referring to a Waxing moon.
      • Gibby is a double-layered pun. Gibby also brings to mind the word gibberish. The second game fully reveals that it's his influence that caused all the characters in the first game to speak nonsense, as he does the same when he's revived.
    • Another example is the Meat Grinder in the Afterlife. note 
      • Additionally, the text displayed when using the Meat Grinder is "1 meat tendered." Meat is the tender (payment) for increasing your health, and it also gets tenderized by the grinder.
  • Surreal Horror: The game has some dark imagery, such as being knocked out in battle represented as skin melting from your face.
  • Surreal Humor:
    • Most of the first game's dialogue randomly replaces certain words and phrases, often causing non-sequiturs, strange grammar and misspellings.
    • Beyond the random text, the actual plot-relevant dialogue uses archaic and obscure words, possibly because of how silly they sound.
    • The sequel is much more comprehensible, but still extremely weird.
  • Temple of Doom: Wayne's crew needs to infiltrate one mid-game to prevent Gibby's resurrection.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Save for a few phrases, Dracula's narration is as randomly generated as the other Non Player Characters.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Played straight in the first game, then averted HARD in the sequel. While the first game fell on the 'more effective to just beat the enemies then move on' camp, but the sequel makes charging up your attacks a major mechanic in combat to hammer it in.
  • Whole-Plot Reference:
    • The first game could be considered a very loose one to Final Fantasy IV. There's a progression from boat to airship to spaceship, a knight in a spiky helmet that switches sides, a tower level, a lab full of secret experiments, sages, crystals, and, most notably, a final battle with a powerful magic user on the moon.
    • Similarly, the plot of Hylics 2 includes a Floating Continent, a deranged godlike antagonist, an explorable airship you can pilot, and a final act that takes place after a cataclysmic event, all possible references to Final Fantasy VI. The Accretion is also reminiscent of the War of the Magi, both of which take place before their respective games' main stories begin.
  • Word Salad: The entire first game and a final third of the second.
    • Most of the dialogue is randomly generated, using a list of bizarre song lyrics mainly from The Mars Volta.
    • The sequel averts this until the awakening of Gibby Redivivus, implying cases of this in-setting are due to outside influences.