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Revenant Saga (Android) artwork

Revenant Saga (Android) review


"Exe-Create: Kemco's most skilled, yet most predictable, team. "


Exe-Create could easily be the best of Kemco's design teams, if only its prolific output didn't rely on constantly recycled plot elements and graphical assets. I know how much it sucks to work on a strict deadline, so I can forgive the developer for producing a bunch of average games that could have been something better if only more time had been spent on them. That doesn't mean I have to like it, though.

Revenant Saga is typical of the developer. It uses the team's three-dimensional battle engine, leading to a more modern feel than you'll find in the average Kemco fare. There's a fairly robust plot containing a handful of twists and a large assortment of dungeons (including a few really lengthy ones near the end). Of all the E-C games I've played, this one has the most consistent challenge on the default difficulty setting, with no massive difficulty spikes coming out of the blue in either the regular game or the post-game content. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say the game gives players the tools to counteract any potential spikes, by including a pretty neat system for powering up weapons.

Weapon customization is actually the game's most noteworthy element. As per usual, weapons can be bought in town and found scattered throughout dungeons. You also obtain various ores and crystals that can be bonded with those weapons. Only a few can be attached at once. A weapon can then inflict status ailments on enemies, steal items and even deliver instant death on occasion. Crystals can be added at any time--and in any quantity--to boost attack power. You might use crystals as you find them, to make each new weapon slightly more useful, or (like me) you might hoard them until the final dungeon and cash in big-time by improving the final weaponry. For all I know, there may actually be a difficulty spike between the main game and the post-game content that follows, but when a guy gives each of his four heroes a 100-point attack boost shortly beforehand, it's difficult to notice.

Unfortunately, though I unabashedly support the weapons customization mechanics, my reaction to the game's other elements is decidedly lukewarm. Start with the plot, which on the surface is enjoyable. Albert, the protagonist, lives in a small town. Its inhabitants are routinely involved in skirmishes with demons known as Revenants. Besides that, the townsfolk suffer from a mysterious plague. A girl who Albert is close to feels the effect of both of these things, since she is expected to become a great Valkyrie who will lead her people in their fight against the Revenants. At the moment, though, she's too busy caring for her plague-stricken parents. When the seemingly-benevolent Dr. Moreau comes to town peddling a potential cure for the disease, Albert takes an immediate interest on his friend's behalf.

In a twist that should surprise no one, Dr. Moreau isn't actually the philanthropic soul he seems. His goal is to meld Revenants with human bodies, following the orders of Valdoren, a sinister fellow who seeks to give demons dominion over the human world. The prologue ends as Albert finds himself sharing his body with a powerful demon named Magnus. His girl has vanished, meanwhile, another victim of Moreau's plotting.

Years pass. Albert now uses his powers to fight Revenants, but Magnus assures him that at some point he is bound to lose control. Then the demon will completely take over his body. The lad soon meets the Valkyrie Esther, who reminds him of his long-lost friend, and the duo is joined by Bruno, an arrogant cleric in service to Rystoria (the same deity for whom the Valkyries fight). The trio becomes a quartet when a young child named Julia crosses their path after escaping Moreau and Valdoren. The four heroes form an uneasy alliance. Each attempts to use the others to fulfill personal goals. But since this is an Exe-Create game, you know from the start that they'll eventually become a big, happy family and regularly give monologues about the power of teamwork, friendship and whatnot, even as they draw steadily closer to a time when they can crush the villains' aspirations.

So, what are the problems with this narrative approach? Well, the first half of the game is loaded with intrigue. Albert hides his half-Revenant nature from teammates, who might feel compelled to slay him if they knew his inner struggle. Esther is friendly and open, but Bruno regularly makes it clear he works for the church and will do whatever that organization says (regardless of how that policy affects the rest of the team). Julia, meanwhile, continually plays the role of a shy and scared child to gain trust, all while planning to set her new acquaintances against Moreau and pals the minute the opportunity arises. Unfortunately, Exe-Create is better at writing page after page of long-winded (and typo-plagued) dialogue than it is telling a good story.

Look forward to extended dialogue sequences whenever you enter a town, or a local church. As you travel from one town to another--or just head for the next dungeon--your party will also stop halfway to its destination to make camp and have yet another conversation. During these interludes, the characters learn about trust and friendship in non-convincing ways. Julia suddenly feels bad about deceiving everyone, for instance, and decides to be a proper comrade instead of a manipulator. Hell, even Magnus and a couple of other demons become good guys, with no explanation provided except that "What is evil can turn good and vice versa." Once everyone is finally on the same page, camping sessions grow less common and progression is straight-forward. The combination of less dialogue and more complex dungeons allows the later segments of Revenant Saga to feel more like a decent RPG and less like a book that sometimes lets a person control the characters and fight battles.

Dungeons are generally fun the whole way through, though the last couple of them do become tedious. Those final ones are simply too massive and linear for their own good. Still, even at their worst, the dungeons are infinitely superior to the lackluster overworld. If there's one thing Kemco's teams can't seem to do, it's develop a world that feels appropriately epic. Revenant Saga's design might be the worst one yet. The entire world is essentially a long, winding road stretched across a couple of continents, with towns and dungeons scattered along that route. Recall how Final Fantasy XIII's world mostly consisted of linear corridors, then scale that down for a mobile platform. You start in one town and head to a nearby dungeon. Then you venture to a new town, which is situated just a short ways down the corridor from the first one and so on. Finally, you reach a ship and can visit the tiny handful of islands that aren't positioned along the main path, but there's no actual sense of exploration along the way; you follow a linear road and stop at every location you find.

If there's one neat thing about playing through the many games Exe-Create has developed thus far, it's that you can watch the team gradually growing comfortable with the concepts that may someday allow it to produce a truly engaging RPG. The ability to use materials to enhance weapons would become a recurring staple in subsequent titles, for instance. It's easy to see how if the team were only given more time to produce unique efforts and experiment a bit more, it might assemble something truly special. As it is, though, Revenant Saga is just another typical Exe-Create title. It has good points and bad ones, but generally doesn't do anything to stand apart from the developer's other efforts.

3/5

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (February 02, 2018)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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