Helen’s Mysterious Castle is a short and gentle JRPG in RPG Maker with a somewhat unique battle system. It has been developed by Satsu and been released in English on Steam. It cost 2 euros and can go for even less in sales. I do not have much information about the author but they seem to have released a couple RPG Maker games, in the same style (and one DRPG). Helen’s Mysterious Castle is a throwback with its old-school aesthetics (on RPG Maker 2000!) and nice atmosphere. You wake up as some mute girl, which is being told to not go into the old ruins and that’s all! The story is simple but engaging and you meet a lot of new characters after the first dungeon. The soundtrack is nice and never goes on your nerves and sounds like old video game music.
All of those would be pretty generic and unremarkable if Helen’s Mysterious Castle didn’t have a cool battle system. Instead of your traditional turn-by-turn RPG Maker JRPG, you have a battle system designed around the weapons you are using. HP is your only resource and you need to be smart to bring your opponent down. Each weapon has different damage and defense values, but also “Wait”. A big sword will deal more damage but it will take more time to land a blow. Maybe you can strike twice with a small dagger or time your opponent attack and bring out your shield to avoid damage. You always see what attack your opponent is preparing and so do them. With this, each battle becomes a little puzzle where you need to trick your opponent attacks into your defense and strike when they lower theirs. During the game, you will be able to find a nice variety of weapons, spells, and equipment altering the way you deal with encounters.
The game is relatively short (took me around 8h with starting from the start again because I got a new PC), but the depth is here and it does not overstay its welcome. Overall, with its very low price, especially in sales, it’s an excellent and nearly free palate cleanser between 2 big games!