Ah. Yep, you remember.
The last day.
The last floor.
Get back on the stage.
Though these are not the first words in START AGAIN: A Prologue, they are the ones that stick with me. Immediately you realize something isn’t quite right, especially given the title and the short intro when you start the game.
START AGAIN is something special. The art is beautiful and expressive, the story is cute and funny and sad, the characters are lovable, and there are so many nice little details and interactions in this short RPG that make you wonder why AAA studios, with their billions in funding, cannot be on this level.
I don’t want to spoil anything, so I encourage you to try the game for yourself. Most surprising of all, the game’s creator, Adrienne Bazir, made START AGAIN in RPG Maker MV. We got the chance to interview Adrienne for Indie Ranger about themself and future projects.
Adrienne, also known as insertdisc5 on the internet, is a queer, mixed-race 2D animator, cartoonist and game developer in their late twenties based in Toronto. They have made two games: a cute lesbian visual novel about a human and an alien called Serre, and the aforementioned START AGAIN. Since they were a teenager, game development has been one of their dreams. They even studied Game Design in college to limited success.
One of their favorite aspects of video games is how they can be used as a way to tell stories – which ties in well with Adrienne’s comic-creating capabilities and work as a 2D animator. In fact, START AGAIN is based on a previous comic of the same name that they created, available here.
Adrienne cites START AGAIN as being their bigger achievement when creating video games.
“I feel like any finished indie game is a big achievement no matter what… I’ll have to pick START AGAIN for this one, just because in my case making an RPG was so much more complicated than making a visual novel,” they said. “There was so much to think about programming and story-wise when making START AGAIN that I’m still kind of stunned I managed to make it work.”
This doesn’t mean that Serre was a flop. In fact, it was showcased in Itch.io’s Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality which increased its popularity and put it on many people’s radars.
The nature of both projects makes them perfect for gamers who value story – or as Adrienne puts it, “heartfelt games.”
“Heartfelt games. A new game genre that I am coining now. Finding new ways to tell stories has always been something I am fascinated with… Everything I add to a game is in the service of telling a story. The item descriptions, the skills, the enemies, how characters react to a locked door; I love adding little details like this,” they said.
When asked on their inspirations, Adrienne cites Toby Fox’s hit Undertale as being a large influence.
“I feel obligated to answer Undertale to this, even though it’s not a conscious inspiration. Undertale was so good it’s now stuck in my creative brain no matter what I do.”
They go on to reference the Ace Attorney series, French literature, various comics and other game developers such as OMOCAT for inspiration.
Though Adrienne had a lot of fun creating START AGAIN, there were of course various challenges too: learning the software, making everything look nice, and of course: PR.
“Doing PR and marketing was one of the biggest challenges I’d faced, along with fixing bugs and the general release. It’s fun making the game, but this extra stuff is HELL, both practically and emotionally,” they said.
START AGAIN isn’t the end for Adrienne. In between playing The Outer Wilds, they plan to continue writing, drawing and making more stories across a lot of different mediums as well as work on a sequel to START AGAIN. However, the details of the story and mechanics are all top secret right now.
I can’t recommend START AGAIN enough, especially given its generous price point. If you’re interested in a heartfelt game with wonderful writing and character-driven gameplay, then pick this up.
START AGAIN: A Prologue is currently available for $12 CAD (Around $9.94 USD/£7 GBP) on Itch.io here.