I am a person of simple pleasures. Show me a castle in space, and like Pavlov’s dog, I will salivate in anticipation of a delicious meal of Gothic star drama. Maybe I read the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook too young, or maybe there’s simply something universally captivating about ornate cathedrals floating through the vast dark. Whatever the case, when an announcement for Fabular: Once Upon a Spacetime landed in my inbox, well, I started barking and howling. My roommate had to ask me to stop.
But Fabular doesn’t just look like your average grimdark space adventure. While the baroque designs here are very much in line with something like Warhammer 40k, they’re executed in a hand-drawn art style that reminds me of the weirdo adult cartoons of the 80s like Rock & Rule or and classic French and German comics aesthetics. It’s got a little levity, is what I’m saying, which is nice. Plus, the hand-drawn art is mixed with chunky pixel art to produce something that looks totally original.
As for the game itself, Fabular is a roguelike that seems to switch between narrative decision-making and top-down space combat with an emphasis on physics. That last bit immediately makes me think of Star Control II, one of my favorite games of all time, and given the sort of playfulness I’ve seen in some of the art and presentation so far, it wouldn’t surprise me if the developers were fans too. It fits with the theming, as well, making the battles more like medieval jousts in space. Does that make any sense? No, but who cares!
Fabular is being developed by Spiritus Games, a team of three based in the UK and Hungary, and being published by the new label PRISMATIKA, which was founded by two ex-execs from Humble Games. PRISMATICA has also signed two additional titles, which they’re set to announce sometime in the future. Fabular: Once Upon a Spacetime launches in Early Access later this year, and a demo will be available as a part of Steam Next Fest starting on June 12.