Review – Revenant Saga
Remember Kemco? This Japanese developer was never my favorite studio back in the day, but I remember playing their Nintendo 64 racing titles like Top Gear Rally and Overdrive with a huge grin on my face. After countless and countless years without hearing about anything coming from them, my initial thoughts were that the company had suffered the same fate as countless of other previously important Japanese developers from the 90’s, such as Irem or Data East: the bankruptcy fate. Turns out I was actually very wrong, as Kemco was actually releasing more games than ever, just on a platform I know very little of: the mobile market.
Revenant Saga, Kemco’s first international Switch release, is a good example of what the company has been doing over the past few years: very simplistic and by-the-books JRPGs aimed originally at the mobile market. Here’s the review.
Revenant Saga looks like, plays like, feels like, and has all typical issues like your typical JRPG from the Playstation 1 era. That’s the easiest definition of this game, which was originally released for cell phones and later ported to everything that sells units in Japan (therefore no Xbox included). It’s not revolutionary by any means, in fact, it felt very boring throughout the majority of my playthrough, given it was one of the least original RPGs I’ve ever seen in my life.
First of all, let’s talk about its artistic department. Visually speaking, the game seriously looks like something made by someone on an older RPG Maker software. Very simplistic sprites, uninspired maps, very standard character models, nearly nonexistent animations. If you’ve ever seen a fanmade RPG Maker game before, you know how this game looks like. When it comes to the combat, the visual style changes from bland 2D to very early 3D, looking like a slightly improved version of what you’d expect from Final Fantasy VII‘s combat graphics. For people feeding on nostalgia, this might be a plus, but don’t expect anything mind-shattering. The animations are stiff and the characters are very simplistic in nature.
The same applies to the game’s sound design. To simply put, it’s not good. The amount of tunes is very small, with various towns and areas sharing the same mediocre background songs. Same applies to the combat music, as well as your irritating victory fanfare tune, which is also shared with when you receive a new quest or objective. As you can already imagine, by the way, there’s no voice acting. Duh.
If there’s no consolation when it comes to graphics and sound, is there any solace elsewhere? Well…
The gameplay isn’t indeed fantastic. Controlling your character while not fighting is actually a lot more annoying than it should, given the excessive sensitiveness put into both the analog stick, and weirdly enough, the d-pad. Lining your character up with something as simple as a sign is more of a struggle than it should. Things get a bit better when in combat. It’s the most cookie-cutter and generic combat system in RPG history. You know the drill: wait for your turn, pick a character, pick a move, rinse and repeat. No active time system, nothing like that. While it is indeed very boring, there are a few bits which actually deserve a small amount of praise, one being a “Transform” mechanic, which turns your character into a beefier fighter at the cost of not being able to heal or be revived, and the fact the game doesn’t force you to grind that much in order to level up, thank goodness for that.
Finally, there’s the game’s story, maybe the most important thing in an RPG. The story per se isn’t exactly bad, even if a bit predictable at points, with your main character housing a demon inside of him while partnering up with demon hunters who would instantly kill him if they knew the truth. No, it’s the pacing and they way the story is told that sucks the life out of you while playing it. The game suffers from shoving excessive amounts of unskippable exposition in your face at many points, forcing you to scroll through very long and boring mute text box reading. It took nearly an hour for the game to actually get going in the beginning, which was sufferable. Weirdly enough, the game isn’t exactly very long for a JRPG, clocking at around twenty hours, but the poor pacing surely made it feel like it was a much longer experience.
It’s difficult to recommend Revenant Saga to anyone. It’s one of the most generic JRPG titles I’ve seen in many years, a game that provides absolutely nothing new to the table while including lots of tropes and elements people hate from the genre. The only good thing about it is that it’s a very cheap game with a sizeable amount of content for the ten bucks the publisher is asking for. If price isn’t the biggest problem to you, however, just stick to I Am Setsuna for the time being.
Reviewed on Switch.
Also available on: PS3, PS4, PS Vita, PC, Wii U