2023年 11月 23日
Indie Tsushin 2023 November issueThis article was featured in our 2023 November issue. Check out more articles and interviews in the full issue.
QUESTER by Thousand Games

One of the greatest points about video games is that they are tools that allow people to experience play by themselves. There are some games that are fun to play with others, such as party or competitive games, but the majority were meant to be played alone. However, experiencing a game by yourself does not necessarily mean you want to experience it in isolation. You may want to talk to someone about how far you've progressed, strategies on how to clear a difficult section, or discuss the lore and characters of a story. I have a game that makes me want to open up with others and hear their thoughts and opinions. So my request to you is to please play QUESTER by Thousand Games so that I can talk about it with you! QUESTER is an open-ended game that left me with more questions than answers, and half the fun of this game has been talking about it with other people.

On the left are colorful portraits of five party members. On the right is a green-and-blue pixel art map of the dungeon. The user interface is also green and minimalist, like an old computer.

The dungeon view and UI look archaic, like you're looking at old data on a research computer from the 1970s.

QUESTER is a hack-and-slash RPG that focuses on dungeon exploration. It is set in a toxic post-apocalyptic world ravaged by human pollution and disease. Players explore the wasteland that was once the bustling Tokyo Metro, and search for materials to try and survive another day. Your party is equipped with a purification device with a set capacity, limiting the range you can explore each day. While scavenging for supplies, you must face dangerous monsters and other environmental hazards, and are constantly searching for new sources of food. You've also heard that there are three monsters guarding caches of Old World treasures, so surviving long enough to hunt them down would be a huge boon to your party. This Tokyo is harsh and bleak, and you are tasked not with saving the world, but of trying to get by within it.

Character profile and stats page of a monk. The monk is wearing a wide-brimmed hat, robes, and modern-day military armor underneath. His hands are folded in prayer.

Not only is there some great environmental storytelling with the clash between the anime-style character portraits and retro dungeon maps, but also the idiosyncrasies in the charater designs themselves. This guy looks like a typical and pious monk, until you notice the military-grade armor he's wearing under his robes.

The game screen consists of modern and beautiful character art combined with a blocky green UI that looks like an ancient computer from the days before we called them PCs. This visual juxtaposition not only enhances the game's appeal as an old-school dungeon crawler, but also gives it a sense of technological degradation in this desolated world. The character portraits are drawn in a variety of art styles, allowing the player's imagination to fill in their personalities and backgrounds. This retrofuturist hodgepodge look feels like the torn scraps of a society woven back together. You are left to wonder what these people had to do in order to survive this long.

Party fighting against a team of three red fish mutants. Each party member has two or three skills queued up to be executed on their turn.

Battles are turn-based and fairly automated, allowing you to steamroll over repeated low-level enemies, but also allow you to fine-tune them on the fly if you run into something much stronger.

Battles are turn-based and use a command-select menu system that should be familiar to anyone who has ever played a traditional RPG. However, the whole process has been streamlined so that battles resolve quickly, a must for any hack-and-slash game where you are constantly running into many enemies per dungeon level. Each character can choose up to three actions per turn, so long as their Action Points allow it. There are plenty of options to play with for each job, such as focusing on defending allies or going all-out on attacks, buffing your team or debuffing your enemies, and so on. Whatever selections you make get carried over to the next battle, so once you find a good strategy that works, you can start the fight right away without having to enter any commands. And since your party's purification device recovers your members to perfect health after each battle, you can start each fight at full capacity. This system rewards, rather than punishes, players for trying out different strategies.

Enemy profile of a creepy enemy mutant. Its front is covered in several purple tentacles lined with bright blue suction cups, and at its base are many arms reaching out and ending in claws.

The scifi mutant enemy designs are creepy and great, making QUESTER stand out in a sea of dungeon-crawlers.

And of course, when you encounter a new and much stronger enemy type, it is a lot of fun to refine your strategy and party commands. There are also skills that use the purification device itself during battles as a last-ditch effort to preserve your team, though you'll need to keep in mind that using that resource means you cannot explore as much that day. You will need to learn how to balance the elements of exploration and battle in order to make the most of your limited resources each day.

Player choosing a party of five among eleven different characters, represented by small boxes with their faces. To the left are the five party members currently in use.

The player has lots of options when it comes to their party composition and battle tactics. Switching them up and seeing what works is a ton of fun.

There is so much that I wanted to talk about with others as I played through QUESTER. I want to talk about the strategy I came up with against a tough enemy, my party composition, and the headcanon I made for each character. It is not surprising in the slightest that this game has a thriving fan community, and there is even a link to the game's fan club from the title screen. Thousand Games clearly value the community quite a great deal, and have created an environment where fans can theorycraft and discuss the game's world with each other.

The home base just outside of the Tokyo Metro. The monitor shows the party's camp, and at the bottom are several options to set out on an expedition, rest, change out your party, and so on.

You only have a limited amount of purification charges before you'll need to head back to base, so prepare well and make the most of your expeditions.

Players who first start QUESTER might be overwhelmed with the options available to them at the start, and may end up making the wrong choices over and over again. This is the first step in gauging the potential of your party, and learning from your mistakes to come up with something even better is a part of the fun. Once you get past those initial bumps and scrapes, you're sure to have found a method that works for you. You'll probably have created a party filled with colorful personalities to whom you have grown quite attached. And, if you are like me, you will want to tell as many people as possible about your ragtag crew who survived the depths of a post-apocalyptic Tokyo Metro. So please: let's play QUESTER together!

QUESTER is available now on Steam with a freedemo available on Ko-Fi, and the console version METRO QUESTER is schedule for release on December 15. Visit the Thousand Games homepage for more updates and information. And you can watch us play QUESTER on stream!