I’m in Love With Small Saga’s Guide Book

It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.

Small Saga guide illustration
Darya Noghani, Ash S.

One of the lost joys in video games is the art of guidebooks. While they still exist, they feel like a rarity left to devoted collectors. Another rarity is the small pamphlet-like guides that used to sit inside a game’s case upon purchase, filled with lovingly crafted tips about the world the player was about to explore for the first time.

Small Saga, a new indie RPG whose animal-filled world is sure to delight anybody who grew up reading the Redwall series, enthralled me in its opening hours. But one of the things that has delighted me the most about Small Saga in my limited time wasn’t in the game at all: the charming guidebook that accompanies the game, drawing the player even more into this unique world.

I’ve been following Small Saga’s development for over a year, so when the game finally released on November 16th, I was quick to purchase it. And while I could have bought the game’s standard edition for $19.99, I instead sprung for the deluxe edition available on itch.io for $26.99. This gave me access to the base game as well as its soundtrack and PDF file of the game’s guide.

This isn’t just a by-the-numbers game guide that lays out where to go, who to talk to, and how to beat every boss. Rather, this is “A Travelling Mouse’s Guide to the Kingdom of Rodentia.” The guide acts as an in-world traveler's guide to the setting of Small Saga, almost like something you would read before traveling abroad. Here’s where to get the best drinks, here’s what inn to stay at, and what is the best mode of transportation. All of these questions and tips are addressed by the guide in a delightful fashion that makes you want to spend more time in Rodentia.

As a companion piece to Small Saga, the guide is impressive, especially due to the unique challenge of writing an in-world guide that is helpful to the player without devolving into tedium. “A Travelling Mouse’s Guide” walks that line beautifully by leaning into the wonder and intrigue of a travel guide that doesn’t spell out how to do everything in a game, rather it offers interesting attractions, and identifies local customs that the player then has to translate into their own experience inside Small Saga.

Darya Noghani, Ash S.
Darya Noghani, Ash S.
1 / 2

One excerpt I am particularly charmed by: “No, the Twisted Tails is not the finest pub in Murida,” the writer says, discussing a local bar, “The glasses are dirty, the regulars are curt, and the knife darts is, quite frankly, terrifying. But it might just offer the quintessential Muridan pub experience.”

I don’t know what is waiting for me at the Twisted Tails, but now I am sure that it will be a worthwhile stop. Will everything help you progress the main story? No, but you’ll find something off the beaten path that might be just as interesting.

Scattered throughout the guide’s nearly 30 pages are also a number of illustrations (all by Ash S.) that give a new perspective on how the residents of Rodentia view the world. It’s a cartoonish contrast to the game’s stunning pixel design that feels brimming with life and a sense of adventurous wonder more akin to vacation than a grand fantasy adventure. You get the feeling that any NPC in the game could have a copy of “A Travelling Mouse’s Guide” stuck in their back pocket to see the sights even if they aren’t trying to navigate the world to end god as protagonist Verm is.

“A Travelling Mouse’s Guide to the Kingdom of Rodentia” is not necessary at all to finish Small Saga. It doesn’t entirely have the usefulness of a traditional game guide. Yet through charming art and humorous but effective writing, it feels like an essential companion to immersing oneself in the game’s spectacular world. I for one wouldn’t be caught dead in Rodentia without my trusty copy.

Small Saga is now available on PC via Steam and itch.io.

Related Tags