Those Who Hunt Tsukumogami

In answer to a popular request, today we’ll walk you over the basic gameplay in 99 Spirits. We’re calling it a Puzzle RPG, but what does that mean exactly?

Read on to find out! (Note: all images are still very much a work in progress.)

The combat in 99 Spirits revolves around a puzzle mechanic wherein you work out the true identity of the enemy Tsukumogami, ordinary objects that, as per the Japanese legend, have come alive on their 100th birthday.

At the beginning of each battle, you face an enemy shrouded in an impenetrable mist which signifies the concealment of their true nature, and no attacks performed on them can cause lasting damage. All you can do is simply exchange blows with them until they run away. The battle itself is kind of turn based, you have a set number of strikes every ‘turn’ – or ‘clash’ as we call them, and you either defend or attack as long as they last – but the enemy can interrupt you with their own attack, and with good reflexes you can parry that and counterattack.

99 Spirits - Combat 01

Now, when you obtain the Gokon sword, you gain two new abilities in the form of the gems you can see at the bottom:

99 Spirits - Combat 02

You fill the two gems by attacking and defending, respectively. Once the first gem’s gauge fills up from your attacks, it allows you to read a part of the essence of the enemy Tsukumogami.
These hints come in the form of either a keyword related to the item in question, or part of the name of the actual artifact:

99 Spirits - Combat 03
99 Spirits - Combat 04

Once you have gathered enough hints for that ’eureka’ moment when it all clicks, you can use the sword’s second gem to make a guess at the item that is the essence of the Tsukumogami you are fighting.

99 Spirits - Combat 05
Activating the gem brings up a new menu, where you enter your guess:
99 Spirits - Combat 06
99 Spirits - Combat 07

And if it’s correct…

99 Spirits - Combat 08

The enemy’s true form is revealed!

Each Tsukumogami is unique from their hand-drawn artwork to their fingerprint-like combat hints, so an experienced spirit-hunter might be able to identify a familiar prey from a single hint. Based on early testing sessions with family, I can already tell this part can also be great fun with friends trying to outdo each other to puzzle out the correct answer as fast as possible.

99 Spirits - Combat 09

From this point you can unleash all of your skills to vanquish the enemy.

99 Spirits - Combat 10

If all goes well, you’ll defeat the Tsukumogami and continue your journey.

99 Spirits - Combat 11

A keen reader might’ve picked up on there being more than two gems in the sword, but that’s a story for another day.

The game has nearly 100 different Tsukumogami with dozens of different skills to conquer, and you can eventually capture them to learn their skills, making the battles increasingly more complex and tons of fun.

In closing, don’t forget to support 99 Spirits in the Indie Dev Grant voting at!