Baroque is a hardcore dungeon crawler with a long history of US neglect. Originally released on the Sega Saturn in Japan roughly 10 years ago, it was remade on the PlayStation a year later, but neither version received a stateside release; it wasn't until it was remade yet again for the PlayStation 2 and Wii that it was finally brought over. Despite its apparent age, Baroque is a welcome breath of fresh air in a genre that has grown stagnant, and it brings a unique method of storytelling that, though flawed, will likely remain with you long after you have quit playing. That is, if you can find the patience to stick with it long enough.
In the not-so-distant future, a cataclysm known as the Blaze has annihilated the world, leaving behind a broken humanity that can exist only by clinging to their delusions, known as baroques. Some time after this, the player-named protagonist awakens without any of his memories and finds himself unable to speak, burdened by a powerful guilt for an unknown sin. He encounters a winged being called the Archangel, who tells him to head to the bottom of a bizarre tower where he can atone for his transgression and heal the world.
What follows is a sometimes-brilliant but severely flawed piece of interactive fiction wrapped up inside of a randomly generated dungeon crawler. The tightly wound story, once you begin to unravel it, is deeply personal and emotionally charged, but it takes a lot of patience, multiple play-throughs, and a fair amount of experimenting with the various characters you encounter to even begin to understand. This is because Baroque is intentionally vague and literally starts you off with no introduction to the weird world and its inhabitants, or any other relevant information. Certain story-related terms simply aren't explained through dialogue but must rather be looked up in the manual, and the game doesn't even attempt to convey the critical plot point of the guilt of committing an unknown sin; it is simply stated by the Archangel that your character feels this way, and you're meant to take that at face value. Although starting you off as a stranger in a strange land can be an effective way to pull you into a story, Baroque frequently flirts at the edge of taking it too far and alienating you entirely.
However, if you can stick with the vagaries presented, you will find a constantly shifting world of unending reincarnation. Death is not an end but a beginning, and with each death you are restored, minus any levels gained or items discovered. This may seem to be harsh punishment for failure and might break your desire to continue playing, but you'll discover that it is not without its purpose, and death ultimately proves to be necessary for the story to progress. Whenever you restart, you begin in the ruinous Overworld, a wasteland just outside of the tower. The inhabitants of this shantytown are a colorful lot that have all been twisted and physically warped by their baroques. They have their own wants and needs, which you will invariably learn and satisfy over time. Nevertheless, you will always end up back in the tower, where you must fight your way through hordes of former humans who couldn't handle their baroques and became monsters. Though you cannot exit the tower once you've entered (unless you die or successfully reach the bottom), you can transfer a handful of items to the Overworld, where they are picked up by one of the townspeople and safely stored for your next incarnation.