Friday, April 13, 2018

Review: Reverie

New Zealand, home to great wine, a relaxed way of life and now a great Vita adventure in the guise of Reverie. By focusing on the local wildlife and flora close to Rainbite's heart, this game is truly distinctive from the herd, a perfect slice of pixel portable adventuring.

Announced a little over a year ago, the developers kept an open dialogue with Vita fans on Twitter. This has helped to build plenty of interest while avoiding spoiling the adventure or dimming the excitement with information overload. Not bad for a young developer. I won't ruin the overall story, about a family of arguing fishermen, but it is handled with fun and a dab of pathos.

You start off in bed, as young boy Tai, on holiday in a seemingly idyllic little village of Harikoa with its store, arcade, beach and some pretty scenery. A cluster of NPCs help set the scene and give you the odd clue, when it soon becomes apparent that ancient forces are at work.

Lost in a Reverie

These lead you outside the town, into the woods or plains, to new islands and beyond, where strange people wait to help give you small tasks. We're in quick and simple find-this-do-that and keep the item territory, but it is so charmingly set up, there a strong sense of welcome and strong desire to play on.

The island of  Toromi is populated with cute little critters that can do a little damage, who's been attacked by a cockatoo before? Handily, there's a strong supply of pizza and ammo in wooden crates to keep health and weapons topped up. The vivid scenery is enlivened with smoke, waving flowers, bugs and scudding clouds, all adding to the charm.

Starting with a cricket bat, you can give the bugs and the game's true enemies a good thrashing, while a yo-yo, dart gun and other weapons provide variety and a way to solve the game's many switch-based puzzles. Other items like a snorkel and heelies help you get around new areas, key to finding the feathers that are a part of one of the larger sub-quests.

The mechanics of Reverie

For a newbie developer, the internal workings of the game work very well, it saves automatically at regular intervals, and teleports can prevent some slogging around. If you do something clever there's a brief moment of Atari Lynx-like zoom to highlight what you did!

Everything happens in short bursts, with no long drawn-out conversations or spirit-sapping battles, across the compact world. With a constant supply of trophies throughout the game, plus fun little mini-games to act as diversions between the main six dungeons, it never feels weighed down.

With a down-home charm all of its own, Reverie has the emotional attachment of a visual novel in the form of an adventure that warms the soul and brings a smile to any gamers' face.

If I had to moan, and its a review, so I get at least one whinge, the dungeon waypoints on the map pop up and are never really explained as to why you need to go there. That's something that could be tightened up with a few simple sentences and would add a little more depth to the NPCs.

Also, pick-ups can be left in inaccessible places by dying creatures, which the odd time might be a pain, but luckily are generally not vital. Those aside, if you're looking for a short, eloquent, world, that's full of imagination and discovery, this hits the spot. If you think early Zelda meets Undertale, that's a neat Venn diagram for Reverie with the very best of both worlds.

Score: 9/10
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Price: £11.99(PSN)
Developer/publisher Rainbite
File size 211MB
Progress: Cryptic clues!

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