The first title we encountered at the Yorkshire Games Fest, looking rather lonely at the time (this did not last long — it was just early in the day), was Mable and the Wood by Triplevision Games. First created as part of the Ludum Dare game jam back in 2015, it has since had a successful KickStarter campaign and is scheduled for release in 2018.
It begins with a funny introduction to the protagonist, a red-headed girl who can turn into a fairy and intends to save the world. The demo doesn’t go much more into depth than that, story-wise, but the premise on its website sounds incredibly promising.
What most excited us about the demo was the combat. Its mechanics earned Mable and the Wood a lot of praise back in 2015 and it’s easy to see why. Mable begins with a sword, but it’s not used in the traditional way. Instead, the sword stays in the ground when she turns into a fairy. A thin, straight line connects the two before she returns to human form, drawing the sword back into her hand along that path.
In this way, you can leap over enemies, line up an attack and kill them with that recall action. It took a little bit to get used to, but was strangely satisfying. Later on in the demo, when we encountered the first boss, the beauty of it really came into focus. Even after dying a few times, there was some mesmerising, balletic quality to the movements of shape-shifter and spider-queen that made it a joy to watch as well as play.
When the spider-queen was defeated, however, a new combat element came into play. You gain a new form for each boss you kill. Instead of turning into a fairy, we could now turn into a spider, which can launch the sword into a direction of your choosing, letting you climb or swing off the strand of silk attached to it. This means you can do damage to things without first passing them, which is useful not just against enemies, but harmful obstacles like spike walls.
Mable and the Wood is well-presented, to boot, with enchanting scenery, clean animations and music that keeps you hooked on the big fights. Developer Andrew Stewart oversaw the demo, commiserating our defeats at the hands (feet?) of the spider-queen and admitting he felt bad watching people die, which hopefully wasn’t a reflection of skill on our own part. In any case, we hear that he took no fewer than three pages of notes from the event — information which will no doubt be used to improve on an already great-looking game.