This is sort of an experiment in mixtape-as-short-story. Definitely influenced by This Time I Know It's For Real (Brenna and Chase's epic playlist / comic). It's also an exercise in exorcism. This story works best as a video game, but I really didn't want to make a video game, and trying to do it in pure text would have lost enough in translation to not be worth it. But the plot and main characters congealed really quickly and vividly for me, and I wanted to make something tangible to share how much fun I'd had thinking about it. So! Multimedia funtimes.
The librettos over at the mini-site only talk about the story, but I spent some time thinking about gameplay too, so maybe I'll say a thing about that before I hit post.
I love top-down brawlers, and I love it when combat acts as a story vehicle. I also like when a game's walk-n-talk segments stay in a restricted area so you get to know the NPCs really well over time. (Alundra pretty much did this part the best.) I'm also fascinated by the potential of friendship/relationship sim mechanics; I haven't really liked any of the games I've tried that are built around this, but I loved stuff like deciding who would choose to lead the party after Crono died. (Sorry, spoilers I guess.)
So anyway, S&1000×H would be split between brawler and walk-n-talk segments.
The brawler part is nothing but bosses. Some of the battles have a chase component, and some enemies will throw some mooks at you, but the core is just eight big multi-part setpiece fights. Combat would have a lot of context-sensitive actions; lots of blocking/parrying, and a few different attack types to choose from at any given time.
Each fight is split into multiple parts. In most of them, you're badly outmatched for the first round and have to struggle to stay alive, but you learn a lot about the enemy's tendencies and patterns. At the halfway point you get to use the power you stole from the last enemy to improve your battle transformation, making a choice from a few options. These changes add up, and your battle form gets progressively more inhuman over time, resembling your enemies more and more. Then you fight back on a more even footing for the second half of the battle.
(This totally guided the structure of the mixtapes! I think having several songs per boss let me outline their personalities a bit even if you aren't combing the libretto.)
(Also, I liked the effect of breaking the rhythm in Act 3.)
Cleista fills the "spotter" role, telling you what to watch for during a fight and often talking back to the enemy. He's usually an invisible voice, but can sometimes project as a human figure made of insubstantial flames.
Some of the walk-n-talks are pretty long, but they all limit the amount of stuff you can do before the story moves on. So the player will choose to hang out with the NPCs that are most interesting to them, and that will determine who Jessie's closest to. This is mostly for its own rewards, but I figured whoever turned out to be Jessie's boyfriend or girlfriend or bestie would be the person Melciel the Nail would choose to take control of, and then you'd have a different voice actor reading her lines in the endgame depending on how you played the friendship sim part. Yes, it's totally impractical, BUT ADMIT IT, THAT WOULD RULE.