Roleplaying games are a lot like wine. There are a lot of varieties out there, but most people will stick to the kinds they like, trying something new or exotic only on occasion. People who are elitist about RPGS act smug but often don’t know what they’re talking about, and, yes, there are folks who can’t stand them no matter how fine a product you give them. I’ve tried drinking wine time and again since I was allowed to have alcohol, and I’ve never liked it. At this point, I’ve given up, but I don’t begrudge people who do enjoy wine. But, just like wine, there are different grades and prices, and the age on the bottle or the cost at the till doesn’t necessarily equate to the quality of what’s inside.
Revenant Saga is a curious if simple RPG from Kemco, who has been the publishing arm for more mobile games and 16-bit inspired RPGs than I can name. In Revenant Saga, you’re a dude named Albert, who is living in a world that a.) is being overrun by immortal beasts called Revenants and b.) also is dealing with a plague. As Albert has lost his parents to the plague already, he’s kind of ambivalent about any kind of quests to “save the world,” but jumps pretty quickly at getting an experimental medical treatment from a strange traveling doctor. This is, unsurprisingly, the result of trying to impress a girl. Albert wakes up and finds something has happened to him, and, surprise, he’s a Revenant now too. Now he’s on a quest to figure out what the hell has happened, what’s wrong with the world, and what he can do to make things better for everyone, plague and zombie wise.
Revenant Saga does fairly well in the gameplay department, though some things are still a bit weird. As a traditional turn based RPG, you’ll find yourself wandering around the map, running into towns and meeting various NPCs (some of whom will join your cause) and then getting into battles. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I got into a battle. The overworld sprites would lead you to believe the graphics are a bit sub-par, and the anime portraits of the characters, though well shaped and generally good, aren’t anything that blew me away. Combat, however, takes on some incredibly crisp and well designed 3D models, and you get a much better scope of the game and the combat. Besides just hacking away, you do have a bunch of skills that you’ll unlock through leveling and generally being an insightful player, and the weapons come in a bunch of shapes and sizes as well. Although there’s still a bit of “mobile buffer” happening with this port (I don’t always feel like there’s actual collision between my character and the enemy), it looks fairly good and was a fun thing to see when it first happened.
Weapons can also be modified and customized to some extent as well, which gives you incentive to collect items and really flush out your surroundings and find any/all hidden stuffs. Being able to upgrade your sword before battle can dramatically increase its attack power, as well as add certain traits to it (chance to poison, chance to sleep, etc.). This comes in the form of gems and other items you find lying around, and is actually a great compromise for gamers who maybe neglected doing the infamous “grinding” that’s so important to most RPGS. Sure, there’s a plethora of weapons to be found and bought, but we’ve all been caught somewhere underpowered and out of luck. This is basically a saving throw that can be recharged to be used again and again as long as you’re wise with how you use your powerup gems. Additionally, don’t put them all into one sword or whatever unless you’re planning to only use that weapon for the remainder of the game. You really will find better stuff.
The dialogue isn’t bad, either. Revenant Saga, though a bit shallow in terms of deeply thought provoking moments or really any huge twists (though there were a couple nice surprises), is still cohesive and written without a huge number of errors of typos. Early KEMCO games seemed rife with a lot of machine translation errors and English faux pas, but that’s mostly been edited out, which I appreciate for a console release. There’s no voicework, but I’m ok with that. The soundtrack is also pretty decent overall, very inspired and reminiscent of the 16 bit era without having the composers of yesteryear on hand to create truly memorable music.
All in all, Revenant Saga is a particularly good supermarket wine. You might not think twice, looking at the label, but you’d be pleasantly surprised with how much enjoyment you get out of it. Clocking in around 20 hours or so, you get nearly the same amount of time as I Am Setsuna, though still a lot less than any major AAA RPG. The storyline is decent, characters are likeable, and the combat is well handled. I didn’t feel like I was wandering around too much and, with the exception of the rather frantic feeling to the end of the game, it held together quite well. If RPGs are absolutely your jam, this Revenant Saga could be a great tale to pick up and play over a weekend. However, if the genre is unfamiliar or unappealing to you, I can’t see that this would be the kernel that tips the scales. Still, I am very excited to see KEMCO titles coming to the Switch, and I hope this means Symphony of Eternity may make its way over in the near future.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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