In theory, The Revenant Prince is a love song to old school JRPGs. A game with gorgeous pixel art, a deep and meaningful real-time combat system and difficult moral and ethical choices that have a lasting impact on the game. In Practice, it is a disjointed, confusing and frustrating conglomeration of half mangled tropes and bewildering design decisions.
From the outset, there is a kind of subtle disappointment lurking behind every aspect of the game. The first real assault comes in the form of the incessant chirping beep that accompanies every letter of every line of dialogue text, and there is a lot of dialogue. Now, this is not a new development in gaming, it’s a “feature” that has for some reason carried on through the years.
One might expect to be able to disable it as soon as there is access to the system menu but no, if you want to disable the sound of a million tiny smoke alarms going off every time someone drones one at you one line at a time, you must disable all sound effects. All of them, including battle sounds, everything but the music.
The Revenant Prince
The pixel art also is a mixed bag. In a world that is almost stock fantasy with some randomly convenient technology thrown in, some areas are beautifully detailed with gorgeous backgrounds, while others feel unfinished. Characters share a similar range of details, and even more confusingly a range of different art styles which can be quite jarring.
Almost as jarring as some of the things they say, and they say a lot. Many conversations are long, awkwardly written and don’t add to the story in any meaningful way. There are attempts at humour, some work, but many break any sense of immersion in the world and on some cases actually break the fourth wall.
The player’s journey as the hero Troy starts out as a deliberate cliche, the hero wakes up just outside of their home town, speaks to a few friends and family members then heads off to a days work. Here, things immediately turn brutally dark with the player’s first taste of the combat system seeing them forced to slay an unarmed civilian.
It’s not until a little later you’re told you can choose to spare your enemies rather than execute them once they reach critical health. This is the mechanic by which the player can make supposedly game-changing decisions. Unfortunately, you later find out that regardless of your decision, even if you choose to spare some important enemies, the game kills them off regardless. This leaves little incentive to do anything other than just kill all who oppose you.
The Revenant Prince seemingly draws inspiration from across the gamut of classic JRPGs but in doing so, I think has misunderstood the aspects that made the great games great. There are details here and there from all sorts of styles, dark villains, anthropomorphised animal characters, self-referential humour, but nothing to glue them together.
Because of all this, The Revenant Prince has no real identity of its own. There is potential here, a somewhat unique real-time battle system, and some great musical pieces in the score. However, the ratio of baffling design decisions and a mixed bag of art, general tedium of getting through the dragging mindless quests and banal dialogue far outweigh the positive aspects.
The Revenant Prince was reviewed on PC using digital code provided by the publisher.