Nepenthe, on top of having a charming look reminiscent of all of the made-up video games I’d scribble in the margins of my homework at school when I was a kid, offers moral choice with its combat, letting players work toward saving the monsters and troublemakers that mean to thump them on the head. You know, if you want to.
Humans and monsters mostly get along in the kingdom of Carithia, but folks have been whispering warnings of something called ‘Nepenthe’ lately, and that’s enough to get you starting fights with pig men and roaming ninja clans. As you explore this sometimes fun, sometimes creepy, but almost always funny, world, you may find yourself getting into battles with the irritable creatures. It’s up to you if you want to kill them, though, as some monsters can be appeased with items or other means. Not everyone, though, although you can avoid these fights in some ways. You can be as pacifistic or violent as you like, although there may be consequences in your ending.
If the timing-based, shmup-like combat (where you weave around falling attacks in real time) isn’t really your thing, you can set the game to story mode where attack options become text choices, allowing you to relax in your brutal tendencies and take in a story that makes gentle fun of games. But do you really want to avoid a live battle with a Guard that literally tries to drown you in legislation with paperwork. I can’t pass that up, personally.