With The Revenant Prince, which has been available on Steam since August 13th, Studio Nomina Games has great ambitions because of their love for retro JRPGs and RPGs. Because the role-playing game is intended to serve as an homage to the classics of the genre, which gained many new fans, especially in the 8- and 16-bit times. The first impression after starting the game fits, the look and the atmosphere capture the spirit of that time. Far too quickly, however, it becomes clear that appearance clearly takes precedence over being, because despite the obvious love and effort of the developers, your project is a disappointment.
The Revenant Prince openly carries his retro inspirations. You travel more or less at your own discretion through the game world, meet new, often only temporary companions and try your hand at turn-based battles with the ATB system. In addition, the strangest figures await you on your travels, from animal bipeds to talking bushes. Since our stoic, silent protagonist is more like heroes like Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy 7 remembered, we usually find ourselves in the role of listener regardless of who we are talking to.
From a purely visual point of view, The Revenant Prince is quite impressive. The characters are designed in great detail and there is also enough variety with regard to the different locations. This superficial beauty is underlined by the equally successful soundtrack, which is partly really captivating. Furthermore, the game is bursting with lovely details, be it the numerous allusions to well-known RPGs or creative ideas like a cute penguin who puts on a bit of lo-fi for us.
Nicely thought, badly done
Source: PC Games
The focus of the story is Troy, a young man. As a result of a tragic event, he is contacted by a mysterious, disembodied entity. This chooses him to save the world and gives him the ability to control time. Not wanting to admit all of this, Troy first tries to ignore this mysterious event. But no matter how hard he tries, he doesn't seem to be able to escape his fate. He begins a journey between space and time and quickly realizes that his new gift is more of a curse than a blessing, because the people around him are dying in rows and the voice that accompanies him incites him to ever more terrible deeds.
What sounds good in theory turns out to be an absolute disaster in practice. Unfortunately, the production was thrown into the sand and never found a coherent voice in terms of tone. The atmosphere of the game suffers particularly from this. So the overwhelming mood of the story with its dark events is interrupted by bad jokes in almost every corner. It goes so far that you feel as if you are alternating between two parallel worlds: that of the main story, which couldn't be more bleak, and that in which NPCs create alienation with excessive cheerfulness.
Source: PC Games
Unfortunately, the narrative problems don't stop there. What starts out comparatively simple is lost in a plot that is only complex because it is simply badly written, there are constantly crazy twists that cause confusion and numerous aspects of the plot are not or only moderately explained. In contrast to other, better games, which challenge the player by having to develop connections yourself, all the questions you have are not due to a clever structure, but to poor writing. A satisfactory dramaturgy cannot arise from the confused changes and the stupid story. Inconsistency is generally the biggest problem in The Revenant Prince, not just in terms of narrative.
In addition to the usual experience points, random battles will give you diamonds, which you can use to operate the skill mechanics called Sphere Grid. This is about the possibility of activating an additional increase in various attributes. For this you can choose between three Sphere Grids, namely Offense, Defense or Utility. Otherwise, of course, you also have the option of receiving new equipment and even improving it from the blacksmith. Last but not least, a feature awaits you that has been available since Undertale should know only too well, namely sparing opponents. As soon as an opponent's life points are running low, we are left to decide whether to give them the coup de grace or allow mercy to prevail. With a few exceptions, however, this does not have any consequences. Since the coup de grace can be carried out more quickly, one almost accidentally becomes a mass murderer.
Source: PC Games
Despite the role models that cannot be overlooked, The Revenant Prince also has a bit of its own flavor. So it comes with a refreshing real-time combat system. This consists on the one hand of the usual combat menu, which is equipped with commands such as the self-explanatory "Items", "Assist" for summoning possible companions and "Weapons". On the other hand, we act regardless of whether we carry out light, heavy or special attacks with Q, W or E. In addition, we use the A, S and D buttons below to select one of three equipped weapons for the said attack. Accordingly, you can, for example, equip yourself with a great sword, a firearm and a shield for defense. Each weapon has its own cooldown, which makes constant switching between weapons inevitable. If the greatsword still needs a few milliseconds, then in the meantime we'll fire a volley from the gun instead. The combat system is rounded off by the possibility of behaving in a superhuman warrior who brings time to a standstill and enables uninterrupted attacks, provided that the bar required for this is full.
Beyond Good and Evil
The combat system works so far, as with the story, the game is stingy with explanations. Although you get a small tutorial at the beginning, it is not too helpful. At the latest when the level of difficulty rises explosively with the first intermediate boss, you feel a little let down. Which brings us to the next point, the lack of balance.
Source: PC Games
Due to the constant defeats in the battles, you get the feeling that you have not understood something, you don't know whether you are playing poorly, are under-level or simply lack the right strategy. Nothing is clearly communicated, and because the semi-open world gives you little clues as to where to go next, this problem remains constant. At some point you catch yourself returning to areas that you have already visited, which you know will not immediately send you over the virtual Jordan, you spend hours there grinding experience points and at some point ask yourself "what am I doing here?" .
The sad thing is that The Revenant Prince's potential is plain to see. Unfortunately, most of the energy was probably invested in the chic appearance. An RPG, however, lives from its storytelling, and The Revenant Prince is doomed. In the conception phase it was forgotten that the player had to be picked up too. Because regardless of whether it is about telling the story or the numerous fights: you always feel left out in the rain.
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