Thanks to KEMCO for the review code
Title: Revenant Saga
System: Playstation 4
Release Date: 05/09/2017
In Revenant Saga, you take control of a young man named Albert, who after getting tricked by a mad doctor and partially fusing with a demon, must set out on a quest to stop the rise of Revenants and the mad doctor’s evil schemes!
Considering that this game was developed by EXE Create, and uses the same general engine as their other titles, Revenant Saga makes some of the same mistakes with the presentation that their other RPGs did, from stiff 2D animations outside of battle, 2D character portraits that explain nearly everything that goes on, recycled sound effects and some bland backgrounds. However, in a miraculous twist of fate, it seems that EXE Create did try their hardest to make Revenant Saga stand out from their other games, since some of the major problems I had with games like Alphadia and Asdivine Hearts were fixed.
One of my biggest problems with earlier EXE Create RPGs came from the lack of dungeon variety, and even though some common themes are still present, (forests, labs, caves) more effort has been put into the dungeons of Revenant Saga to try and make them feel different from one another. For example, one of the earlier dungeons is a forest with multiple paths, a common thing to see in RPGs. But while earlier EXE Create games would just have a lot of trees in a maze formation and call it a day, we actually see some variety in this forest! Bridges that go over a lake and a transparent waterfall you can walk behind are included to show the player that they’re exploring a forest near a water basin, and it does the job much better than having the dungeon feel like “Generic Forest 2”. Granted, there are still some dungeons that feel too similar from time to time, (most notably the Laboratory dungeons that you visit during the course of the adventure, which is explained in-universe to be due to the same mad doctor working in all of them) but this game does make an effort to improve the variety, which is admirable.
Another improvement comes from the usage of 3D models in battle, similar to how Alphadia Genesis handled it. Without the awkward battle transition that Genesis had, battles in Revenant Saga look rather decent, with the four main party members looking fine in both their normal and transformed selves, and the enemies consisting of a nice variety of demons, dragons, wolves and other monstrous creatures. While Alphadia Genesis did suffer the problem of having the 3D movements feel stiff and choppy, Revenant Saga’s animations fare a bit better, although they resolved the issue in this game by making battle animations relatively short, which causes the overall pacing of battles to be nice and quick. Still, most things animate a lot better than they did in Genesis, even if it’s far from the ideal set by most major RPGS.
Outside of the world map theme (which is yet again the same song as the Title Screen theme) the music has also been greatly improved, with more memorable tracks including the boss battle theme, town theme, several dungeon themes and a few cutscene themes. It’s still nothing worth importing to your iPod, but these songs did encourage me to keep playing for long periods of time instead of driving me insane, so that has to count for something, right?
Considering how nearly every single EXE Create RPG uses the same tropes for the battle systems, (A party fighting monsters in a turn-based fashion, using skills to turn the tide along with whatever gimmick a particular game introduces, etc) I’m going to try and refrain from repeating a lot of things I’ve previously stated, since for the most part battles progress and move in the exact same way as before, just in 3D now! This means that I won’t be going over things that appear in nearly every other RPG, such as the linear story progression, option to change difficulties at any time, the ability to do sidequests for NPCs in exchange for better items, or access to the in-game shop to obtain overpowered items in exchange for special currency. (known as “RSP” in this game)
So what does Revenant Saga do that makes it stand out from the other EXE Create games? Well, it tries to put more of a focus on strategy in the form of transformations, a power given to the main characters as soon as the prologue ends. When used in battle, your character will transform into a sacred version of themselves, granting them the use of exclusive skills that take up a lot of SP, (this game’s version of MP) but at the expense of being unable to restore HP or revive themselves unless they transform back into normal humans. While it doesn’t seem to help out much in the early game, once you reach around level 25 or so you’ll gain access to devastating moves that’ll deal a lot of damage or cause a really nasty status effect, which can absolutely destroy some of the enemies and bosses if used properly.
However, another risk that comes from the transformation system is in the form of a Synchro Gauge, which when increased above 50% will cause you to lose control over your transformed characters at the benefit of dealing more damage to enemies. Overall, the transformation mechanic is a nice risk and reward system, and proper usage of it is required in order to survive the endgame on any difficulty. Outside of this system, battles and progression work out just like an average RPG, so don’t expect a lot of complicated mechanics to master in this adventure.
Before we end this review, I do need to address one minor problem I had in the middle of the game. Right before the end of the first “arc” of the story, you’re tasked with defeating a specific enemy that surrounds a village in order to get enough hides to repair a boat. Sounds simple, but a big problem I had was the fact that the drop rate for the enemy in question was way too low compared to the enemy that usually accompanies it. Even with equipment that can steal directly from enemies, it took me a good 45 minutes of non-stop battles against these weak enemies to get the three hides I needed to progress, while in the meantime I got 9 Fatigue Orbs dropped by the other enemy. This odd padding that’s entirely luck based was really uncalled for, but thankfully I managed to get out of it, and there hasn’t been anything else of the sort in the main story since.
In conclusion, Revenant Saga is by far the best EXE Create RPG that I’ve reviewed so far, with a lot more love and care put into it than the previous games. However, at the end of the day it’s still an incredibly basic RPG, just one that’s really, really addictive due to the fast pace. The story is moderately interesting, yet easily predictable at times due to it following a lot of common RPG tropes that most veterans will spot from miles away, and the visuals are decent enough in battles, but still quite stiff in overworld sections, so your mileage may vary on the art style.
With all that said, however, I DID find myself playing this a lot longer than any other EXE Create RPG, due to the aforementioned addictive factor. The fast pace of battles and the story makes for a fun RPG adventure that’s worth checking out, especially if you’re a trophy hunter. (But be warned, a lot of these trophies require grinding stats!) The addition of cross-buy also leads to a sweet deal for those who own a PS3/PS4 and a Vita, although from what I could gather there doesn’t seem to be any cross-save features, unfortunately. Still, if you’d prefer your RPGS to be more simplistic, and something you could intend to play for short bursts at a time only to get addicted then Revenant Saga should do the job just fine. I give Revenant Saga an 7 out of 10.