Tears Revolude (Android) review
"Another Kemco game worth playing? What is the world coming to?"
Throughout the time I've spent playing Kemco games, I've found one thing consistently annoying: the small cast of notable characters outside of your party members. Most of the games have featured only two or three named adversaries, which leads to a lot of boss fights against generic monsters that exist only to provide a challenge. After all, what's the point of going through a big cave if there isn't a big demon waiting right near the exit?
Every once in a while, though, one of Kemco's developers does endeavor to buck this trend. One example of that is a game called Tears Revolude, which actually bucks multiple trends. It's the only current American release from Kemco to try anything other than the familiar overhead perspective that's been around as long as the console RPG, for example. Good job, World Wide Software! After playing through three of your previous games, I wouldn't have thought "trend-setting" was part of your vocabulary, but apparently you guys do have some creativity in your souls.
The main character, Sion, a huge fan of the works of an artist named Orwiel, and companion Michelle spend a lot of time digging through ruins, caves and other places where paintings may be located. In doing so, they meet Liara, a mysterious girl who seemingly has no knowledge of her past and fails to grasp even normal activities like the eating of food. Being good people, the two heroes take her under their wing, figuring that while they're looking for Orwiel's works, they might also be able to help their new acquaintance. Unfortunately, that act of kindness puts them at odds with the Guild, a group that has a big hand in running things in this game's world. While our heroes are able to get help from a resistance movement as they work against the Guild, that organization has a lot of power on its side... if its members can actually work together.
That's the cool thing about having a decent-sized cast of characters when you tell a story: you actually can introduce a fair amount of intrigue! The Guild has five members, with most of them hiding their own secrets. Leader Illucifone is the standard Kemco well-intentioned extremist who just wants to bring peace to the world…regardless of the atrocities she commits in the process. Top lieutenant Rosenia is motivated solely by her loyalty to Illucifone, whom she looks at as an unassailable paragon. Meanwhile, the elderly Eldwards is always on hand to offer information and advice, even if he seems to prefer staying out of the way. Two other members, Caeneus and Selalitte, seem to have their own agenda. Sure, they'll confront you when told to do so, but it's pretty obvious they don't have their heart in following orders; they immediately stand aside once you defeat them, and graciously tell you where to head next on your quest.
Trying to figure out what alliances were genuine made following Tears Revolude's plot enjoyable, and it didn't hurt that World Wide Software produced a quality game to frame its unusual story. There are a fair number of customization options, for instance. While each character only gets one weapon that carries them through the game, that weapon can be upgraded in a number of ways at the blacksmith's shop. Initially, you can switch at will between four different versions, depending on whether you want a particular character to focus on attacking, magic or to be a jack-of-all-trades. If you have enough money, you can then pay to power up your weapons from there. Not only will doing so improve its stats, but the first few upgrades also grant new combat abilities. These skills and spells can also be improved by repeatedly using them in battle. By powering them up, you gain the ability to cast stronger versions, at the cost of more magic points.
This system reminded of Grandia to a degree. I felt encouraged to use my spells and special attacks as often as possible in order to make them better and, therefore, more useful against bosses or large mobs. Usually, a spell or skill starts out with the ability to hit one foe for a decent amount of damage, but after you power it up a few times, you can either cast a far stronger version or one that hits all enemies at once. If that's not enough, giving and taking damage causes a four-bar meter to fill, eventually granting you access to very powerful attacks. Each bar constitutes one such use by default. At the cost of additional bars, you can have other party members join in to add additional damage and various debuffs.
The dungeons are reasonably interesting, by World Wide Software standards. This company tends to release shorter games than Kemco's other developers do, in part because most dungeons are tiny and linear. While that doesn't really change with Tears Revolude, there was at least an attempt to keep things unique. To that end, dungeons employ an isometric perspective, and most contain a handful of simple puzzles. Those are typically solved by retrieving orbs to place on stands, by pushing blocks and by using candles to light torches. I only found a couple of them to be even remotely tricky, which typically was only true because of the questionable translations for in-game hints that are spread throughout the dungeons. Still, the fact that WWS felt the urge to tinker with its usual formula is encouraging. At least, it would be encouraging if not for the fact that Kemco seemingly has decided to over-saturate the American market with a never-ending stream of Exe-Create games, and has ignored these guys since this game arrived in mid-2015.
That's a shame, because with a bit more work, World Wide Software might well produce a legitimately great game. While enemy models were reused a bit too much for my tastes (an issue that consistently plagues Kemco releases), they were drawn well and possessed a few frames of animation. There are no random encounters, with monsters represented by spherical masses that charge you when you get close enough. Also, with the exception to that handful of questionable puzzle hints, the translation is a bit better than you'll see from the typical Kemco release, with less stilted awkwardness attached to the dialogue.
Mainly, I had only two problems with the game. My first issue is that there are no actual towns to explore. They exist only as menus. When you access a town, you can choose to visit the item shop, go to the blacksmith or talk to people who only exist in list form. So you'll scroll down a list, realizing that the only interesting folk in town (the ones who give side quests) are placed at the bottom. That's a pretty big corner to cut, guys! I didn't have a problem with there not being a world map, since Kemco's companies haven't really shown much aptitude for creating a legitimately good world to explore, but towns that exist only as menus feels like a bit much. My other issue is that this is a pretty easy game but, unlike Exe-Create titles, you can't change the difficulty setting mid-game. There are four difficulty levels available. I picked the second-hardest and still cruised through it, with only a couple bosses and the post-game activities ever offering me any real challenge.
No, Tears Revolude isn't an example of Kemco finally connecting all the dots to create a legitimately great RPG that is destined to stand the test of time. However, it gets enough right to be a perfectly fine way to expend 10-15 hours. The plot is engaging, there's a neat system for upgrading weapons and skills and it's enough its own creation to not feel like "just another Kemco game". While the experience might be a bit rough around the edges, the game definitely deserves consideration the next time you have a few dollars to spare.
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (August 30, 2016)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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