Most games want to make you feel powerful. They offer just enough challenge to foster a sense of achievement. And when you overcome that challenge, they offer rewards to make you better suited for the next, more difficult task.
Tallowmere isn't like that. Tallowmere wants to kill your dreams, burn their wilting bodies, and dance upon the ashes.
It's a platform-based action roguelike. Starting with just an axe and a shield you must venture into a randomly generated dungeon. Then see how long you last before its horrid denizens dismember you.
You swipe left and right to get around and, oddly, multi-jump as high as you like in order to climb. There's an attack button to slash at enemies like Trolls and Zaeries, and a shield button to block them.
Weapons and shields are upgradable, of course, just like any good roguelike. There's also an action button which serves to open doors and activate waypoints. And an inventory you can scroll around to use or equip the items you've collected.
If that sounds like a lot to fit into a set of touchscreen controls, you'd be right. Tallowmere manages it, but only just. It takes a lot of skill to coordinate the taps needed to raise a shield, lower it for a flurry of blows, and get back behind protection.
There are times when you want to do two things at once. Jump-attacks, for example, are an obvious way to deal with nasties patrolling higher areas. It's easy with a keyboard, but tough on a touchscreen.
It's not, however, impossible. The impressive scores and speedrun times on the Game Center leaderboards are testament to that.
They're also testament to how addictive Tallowmere can be. After a first few fumbles into the dungeon, getting to grips with the controls, you'll want to try again and again and again.
The brutal difficulty level leads to short games that are just right for mobile. The lure of loot and your slow, well-earned improvement at the game are powerful motivations to keep on going.
Plus, it's just plain fun. Leaping around and smashing monsters with an axe is a great starting point. On top of this, Tallowmere builds an endearing sense of daftness.
Weapons you can find include rocket launchers and flamethrowers. Using them on enemies results in running gore and rolling heads.
That penchant for black humour extends to the difficulty settings. You can talk to the Punisher, a grim reaper figure, to increase the challenge. Or you can make life easier for yourself by choosing to sacrifice kittens before you start.
All the cat blood in the world won't save you, though, if the procedural generation just chooses to be mean.
The dungeon is full of traps as well as monsters. Sometimes you're forced to fight a foe in a small pit containing a gas nozzle that poisons while you pummel. You'll be lucky to survive such an encounter.
The game also has a peculiar approach to levelling up. A couple of rooms after you do, or after you're lucky enough to find a powerful item, the game informs you that it's upping the difficulty. It keeps the insane challenge level constant. But it doesn't always feel like a fair fight.
The game compensates for a limited number of items and monsters with its random layouts and special rooms. Some see time speeding up and down, others feature hideous amounts of spiked walls and flying things.
If you want to survive you'll have to think on your feet and tap like a demon.
Tallowmere is a cracking game. It returns to the roots of roguelikes when games were just fun instead of bogged down in endless menus and options.
I would encourage everyone to play it. The only catch is that I'd encourage you to play it on PC, rather than on mobile.