“Don’t forget where you came from.” We tell this to children, students, aspiring stars and upcoming athletes to remind them to be humble and true to their roots. Far too often the brightest and the best soar and pretend that they have always been elite, always been part of the upper crust and never, in their lives, had moments of doubt, anxiety and destitute living. Yes, remembering your origins are important for many people, and incorporating the harsh truths we had to learn at that time into our modern, easier lives is important, lest we forget the struggle and sacrifice necessary to get to where we are today.
But, if part of your upbringing was, say, worshipping a false God in a cult or supporting your parents insane beliefs about gay rights and the flat Earth, that’s the part that you want to cut away. We don’t all come from inspirational backgrounds, and the same can be said for gaming. Like it or not, Nintendo did a lot of things before settling on game publishing/development/domination, and one of those things was hourly love hotels. Now, does that mean Nintendo pretends that didn’t happen? Certainly not, but that also doesn’t mean they actively encourage their games to have at least one scene depicting an antsy husband and wife trying to get out of the house to bang one out while their kids watch a marathon of Kyuranger. Basically, when you reach a level where you can leave some of the less savory parts of your past behind, do it. It’s a less, sadly, that KEMCO needs to figure out.
Antiquia Lost is the story of a world divided into four tribes, but all the tribes basically live like civilized people, so no worries there. One day, a young man, Bine, gets caught into an encounter with a slime girl: a living, intelligent slime mold who can take on any form and has decided to be a cute girl. Bine pairs up with the slime, called Lunaria, and together they set out to find what’s making people disappear all over the cities, and what they can do to help save the world and the future. I really wish the plot wasn’t so generic, but I understand that KEMCO and Exe Create like to hang their hat on the technical execution, not the storytelling, so I have to give them a pass there. But, at that point, shouldn’t they think about doing a different genre than RPGs? Or is this just the easiest place to shoehorn in extra chores and tasks because the core is so tried and true? I’m not totally sure.
Antiquia Lost is another 16-bit inspired RPG, complete with anime portraits, textual explanations and overworld maps, and turn based combat that’s more similar to the Final Fantasy series than anything else. There’s plenty of weapons, spells and armor to be found and bought, and, as you may have guessed, the main heroine being a slime girl is important to the mechanics (and also to appeasing fans of odd tastes). Much like the gelatinous cube of D&D history, Lunaria can “eat” nearly anything: swords, helmets, gems, etc. The different things that you “feed” her can affect her character stats and abilities, almost entirely in positive ways (though there are a few errant items that will decrease stuff). In this way, Antiquia Lost offers up a very cool avenue for players to explore. On the one hand, you can play the game almost entirely in a traditional sense without relying on this power (though there are a few moments where it’s unavoidable). On the other hand, you can dump most of your attention into Lunaria (who is in your party for 98% of the game) and just make her an absolute beast in magic and fighting.
Besides the slime-feeding, there’s also a handful of other activities going on. You’ve got seeds to plant that slowly mature in your inventory and become fruits that boost your stats and such. You’ve got magic that you can learn and amplify through different equipment. And you’ve got a chance to refine equipment you currently have and make it even stronger through gems that you find and…purchase. Oh, and if you want a chance to get some really kickass weaponry, you can open a loot box and maybe get something crazy overpowered, or at least a bit strong, for the price of gems. That you can purchase. Oi. Current hot button subjects aside, this is something that I found exceptionally disappointing. Revenant Saga did an amazing job of coming onto the Switch from a mobile background and was mostly seamless in porting, just coming across as a great if sometimes wonky RPG. Antiquia Lost, on the other hand, absolutely REEKS of cheap mobile gaming techniques. In the first hour of playing, two completely separate NPC encounters eagerly let me know what I could do with gems and gave me two plays “on the house,” which resulted in some interesting items but nothing gamebreaking. They then let me know that I could possibly win something even cooler and stronger. You can definitely find gems throughout the game that will assist you on this avenue, but there’s a straight-up in app purchase option to get more gems, and I really, really despised that.
Getting past that bad taste, you are 100% able to complete the game without needing to drop a cent, and it’s not even like buying stuff makes it go faster. The adjustable difficulty is nearly irrelevant to players who’ve put in any time in an RPG previously. It’s literally just a matter of how much you want to grind, or, in my case, “not run away from battles.” On a normal setting, opting to fight and not run from every random encounter, Antiquia Lost was almost too straightforward I put in my time without walking in circles in the forest, bought upgrades when they were available, and kept Lunaria fed regularly. The end result was coasting through most battles and putting in slightly more effort (meaning I cast spells). I don’t think the game was “easy” per-say, but there wasn’t anything about it that made it especially challenging other than some elemental combat. It’s a decent jaunt, but this is something when you are a serious RPG addict, and you’re jonesing for something prior to the next big JRPG to hit. I’d say you could bang this out in a weekend, or maybe even a full afternoon into evening marathon.
Graphically, the heroes and heroines are much, much better designed than the enemies. While Bine, Lumina and the others are drawn well both in portraits and sprites (Safira is wonderful), most of the monsters look like they were done by a totally separate team, possibly for a different game. It was disappointing, to say the least, because combat is a big part of the play and it always felt like I was stepping into a different realm, but not in a cool, dimensional way. The lack of cohesion made it jarring.
I want to recommend Antiquia Lost, and I know this is for some people. It’s cheap, it’s got decent length, and it’s engaging. There are no ads and no need to do IAP, but it’s sad that the option exists and is pushed on you pretty aggressively. I liked the characters, hated the monsters, and would actually like to see more out of things in the future for this cast (there are multiple endings, and the one I got hinted at more to come). But a simple game with plenty of simple activities isn’t how I want to spend hours in a supposedly RPG environment. By all means, take a look at the game overall, but it’s not entirely surprising that this title might get Lost in the avalanche of other games on the Switch.
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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