Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Role-Playing, Adventure, Strategy & Simulation
Release Date: 19th of October, 2017 (EU & NA) & 19th of October, 2017 (EU & NA)
Looking for a Final Fantasy/Bravely like RPG experience for your Nintendo Switch that isn’t I am Setsuna? Well depending on how high your sights may be set, there just might be a game that will fit the bill.
Previously released on the likes of mobile devices and the Wii U this year, Revenant Saga is an RPG that has the appearance of earlier Final Fantasy titles, an overworld similar to that of The Legend of Zelda II: Link’s Adventure and the same type of character focus and interactions we see in the Bravely games (Default and Second.) Only just because Revenant Saga does draw inspiration from those games and many more quite like them, it does not guarantee that it will be as good as them, because sadly it is not.
As far as RPGs go, Revenant Saga is not KEMCO’s finest release, as they have released some great RPGs to mobile devices, but let’s not write Revenant Saga off just yet. Yes, the graphics could have done with some minor improvements as their original state is more than acceptable on mobile devices and even on Wii U, but on Switch, it would have been nice if they were tweaked just a tad to get the most out of them when playing in TV mode, what with them being stretched and all. And yes, maybe the game’s story isn’t as strong as it could have been due to a lot of its twists being predictable, and some of the writing not doing the story any favours, but you don’t buy and play Revenant Saga for the story, or it’s graphics. You buy it for its characters!
Like with any of the great RPGs, while a strong story, stunning graphics and a smooth, yet engaging battle system can be the reason why the game is as popular as it is, another critical aspect is the characters who drive the game and for Revenant Saga, its 4 heroes are a great reason to check it out. So with that thought in mind, let’s talk a bit about the heroes and the story in which they find themselves deeply wrapped up in. In what was once a peaceful world, two horrors have befallen the lands. The first is an army of corpses (Revenants) that can not be killed and a plague. Both have had led to many casualties and fatalities and among the departed are the parents of Albert, a kind soul from the village of Tarrant. Due to his parent’s having passed months previously, Albert is still grieving and his childhood friend Anna tries to pick him up, only what befell his parents, also befalls hers.
With Anna in a sense of sadness and the villagers of Tarrant getting restless and wanting to take action against Anna’s plague affected family, Albert becomes desperate to do anything he can to help Anna and her situation, even if it means participating in an unorthodox research being run by a scrupulous looking Dr. Moreau, only Anna is just as desperate as Albert is and she’s also sought the aid of Dr. Moreau and the Doctor, while he is offering a cure of sorts, let’s just say it would never get approved by the FDA. Why not? Well, the cure is inviting a demon to come up from the underworld and make a home in your body and the plague that’s going around, it is the creation of Dr. Moreau in an effort to get willing participants for his experiments.
Now, while he does have “good intentions,” like the fact he is aiming to be able to bring his daughter back to life, who died a very long time ago, as you would expect, Dr. Moreau is being manipulated. He is a bad person, but he as you would expect, is a pawn that is simply playing a part, and sows the seeds of his own destruction as what he failed to do to Albert, comes back to haunt him. Instead of becoming a Revenant like the others, which can not kill one another, brainless and driven by a thirst for blood, Albert is born as a Half-Revenant. A half-human and half-revenant hybrid with the soul of a demon by the name of Magnus residing inside him and the ability to kill demons and Revenants, which up until Half-Revenants came into being, was a ability only those able to use Amulets associated with the Rystolian Order, was capable of.
2 years pass and despite Magnus’s efforts to possess Albert, Albert is still very much so alive, on a mission to learn what became of Anna and to kill the man who turned him into a monster, oh and the war against the Revenants has worsened. Still, after getting nowhere for so long, everything for Albert is about to change thanks to a chance encounter with Esther. As someone who has had a vision of the divine being Rystoria, Ester bears a stigmata as proof of her divine encounter and is well on her path to becoming a Valkyrie for the Order, a religious sect that worships Rystoria and tries to uphold all that is good. Only for a warrior who has spent the last 2 years hunting Revenants, she is kind, considerate and reminds Albert a lot of the friend he lost and although in time Albert and Esther become great friends who will lay it all on the line for each other, in the beginning, she was just someone to be used, but if it was not for her, Albert would never have met his kindred soul Bruno, with whom he has a lot in common with and Julia. Now I could go into detail about her, but the second I do, I’ll just reveal way too much and we’ll really be into spoiler territory.
What I can say though, is from the moment Esther comes onto the scene and joins the party, this is where Revenant Saga properly asserts itself as a game as the story does become more serious, the enemies become tougher and while the story may escalate, only to fall flat at times, the relationship between the four playable characters become electric. Albert goes from being someone who has frequent arguments with the demon within him and trusting no one, to finding himself with friends he can depend on. A rival he can have very heated arguments with and 2 very sweet girls who really know how to handle themselves in battle.
There is no doubt about it, Revenant Saga is a buddy game as it is all about companionship and even the game insinuates it a couple of times and there is no denying that it is the relationships between the characters that make this game gel so well, it is the game’s only original and defining feature as everything else is a little too similar to everything else we’ve ever seen before, but it is not without its faults. With no voice acting, all dialogue is done via dialogue boxes and character portraits that don’t really convey a whole lot of emotions, so while the dialogue may be on point, limited character animations do stop certain scenes from being as good as they could have been, in a similar way as to how the game’s presentation lessens the game’s story.
Now I can talk about the characters and the story all day long, but since this is a review, let’s talk about the other aspects of Revenant Saga. While battles are a huge part of gameplay and we will cover that later, exploration is just as crucial as there are towns and villages to walk around, with NPCs to interact with and treasure chests to open, dungeons with secret paths that yearn to be discovered and an overworld in which is presented in a top-down view manner and whether you’re walking or sailing, you’re only ever safe as long as you’re not in a battle because the second a battle starts, that’s when monsters and Revenants come out to play. But again, we’re not talking about that quite yet as we’re still on the overworld, in case you’re worried it will be dull and remain in one state, you’ll be wrong as clouds can drift over, obscuring your view of your character and rain can even fall, so if you were worried traversing the world would be boring. There are weather affects at play.
Now for the battles. Being an RPG battles are what you would normally expect. With the exception of planned Boss Battles that take place in certain locations and can be refused until you feel ready enough to take it on, or have an Encounter Ring equipped, which causes a battle to trigger every step you tag, battles are triggered randomly. As for how they go down, anywhere between 1 and 4 enemies can appear and your job is to take them out as soon as you possibly can, via an onslaught of normal attacks, skills that deal devastating damage, or you can transform to a high powered form that comes with plenty of risk. In exchange of more power and improved stats, you will not be able to recover life, unless you untransform, recover and then transform again. And if you feel like letting the battles play out without any involvement from you, you can let them play automatically via Auto, but you will need to activate it, every time a battle starts and yes, you can deactivate it whenever you wish.
When a battle is over, all surviving players will gain experience and possibly level up (999 is the level cap,) with the likes of monies earned going straight to your purse and acquired items and weapons going straight to your inventory, but as an RPG with battles, there is of course a little more to the battles than what I have already mentioned. Things like battles against Giant Monsters that are far more deadlier, but give better rewards when defeated, battles against smaller enemies and even battles with crates! (By destroying them, you can either get a reward or face a tougher monster.)
For what it’s worth, the battles are 3D fleshed, animated and whilst appealing to begin with, or just when facing a new enemy, they can go a tad and then very much so, dry, especially if you choose to grind in a certain location, with the help of the Encounter Ring, but as long as you’re willing to not obsess over it, it’s something you can deal with. As for things you can do out of battle, you can customise the weapons you possess to strengthen them, (boost their attack power and give them an effect like paralysis,) alter your desired equipment that is comprised of a weapon, clothing, a Ring and a Gem, which each have their own special effect, or even access an exclusive shop for exclusive items that is available via one of the few clean menu screens Revenant Saga has.
Aside from that though, the occasional Sub Quest that can be picked up and completed as you progress through the Main Quest, there’s not really much to do, as what is available, is nowhere near as fleshed out as much as they could have been, but that doesn’t mean Revenant Saga is something you’ll blitz through in 5 hours or less, as it will take anywhere between 10-15 hours on Normal mode alone and even if you do beat the game and defeat the evil Demon King, there’s a two-part post-game dungeon to endure through, but after that, there is very little to come back to, unless you’re a completionist looking to get the coveted rewards of the 13 Record Keepers. Just don’t expect too much from the post-game dungeon though as it is more of the same of the final two-part dungeon and has the same choices soundtracks at play. If you’re not put off by that though, then Revenant Saga might just be the latest eShop game for you! Oh and because I never mentioned it before, if at any time you feel like saving your game, you can do so by pressing the “+” button and choosing which save file you wish to overwrite.
Revenant Saga may not be the RPG game that breaks the mould when it comes to Nintendo Switch, but faults aside, it is a much more affordable alternative to I am Setsuna and is a game that will try to win you over, but you need to go into it with your no expectations and a willingness to see it through as it will get better before it goes a little too overboard.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*Review Key Provided by KEMCOTags: eShop, Exe Create, KEMCO, Nintendo Switch, October Feature, Revenant Saga, review, RPG
This post was written by Jack Longman