The story follows Troy, a young man who gains the ability to control time. Guided by a mysterious voice whose intentions are very dubious, Troy sets off on an adventure to save the world. From the get-go, the truth of Troy’s destiny is very unclear, and we’re left questioning whether or not the mysterious voice is really interested in saving the world or using Troy for their own potentially nefarious purposes. Because of this, the plot is somewhat convoluted and requires a fair bit of dedication to the game before having any real understanding of what’s going on. This is mainly because we are placed in the shoes of a protagonist who is just as clueless as us. Throughout the game, Troy learns more about who and what he is, and the pieces of the story come together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Much like many of the old school RPGs upon which The Revenant Prince is styled, the game utilises random encounters – something that is usually the bane of my existence, even if you can often run away from them. With The Revenant Prince though, you can alter how frequently these encounters occur just by pressing E. The frequency can be set between 100%, where they appear every few steps, down to -100%, where you’re unlikely to have any encounters. The default setting of 0% is a nice middle ground. I enjoyed having this flexibility, and it was something that came in handy whenever I came across a particularly tricky boss as it meant I could crank up the encounter frequency to 100% and go up a handful of levels before attempting the boss again.
As for the combat itself, The Revenant Prince uses a real-time battle system rather than the common turn-based one action per turn per character system that a lot of the old-school RPGs use. Troy has three gauges, one for each weapon he can equip, and as long his gauges are full enough, he can attack repeatedly until the enemies gauge fills up, meaning you can get a couple of hits in and don’t have to use up a turn to heal, which is good because chances are you might need to heal again pretty quickly. The enemies in The Revenant Prince can be pretty unforgiving but this adds a challenging edge to the game even if you might have to grind a little bit to up your stats.
Thankfully, Troy does have a pretty useful ability that can make some of the boss fights a little easier. It can only be used when the gauge fills up (every couple of fights on average), so I’d recommend not using it up on easier battles even if it makes them end more quickly. It essentially allows Troy to freeze time for the enemies around him and get in a number of some pretty powerful hits – a good tactic for quickly dispatching big groups of enemies or hacking down a big chunk of a boss’s HP.
One of the biggest features advertised by Nomina Games is the ability to make impactful decisions that have irreversible consequences. You can choose to help someone in need or leave them to fend for themselves and go on your merry way, but the main source of choice is the ability to spare enemies once you’ve bested them. This option, however, is not always available. I would say that this is a game that gives you the illusion of free will, and I can see how in this case it could be considered effective. As much as Troy tries to do the right thing, he is bitterly reminded that he has very little free will as the mysterious voice pulls the strings, and the player is put in the same position. Still, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat disappointed when my decision was overruled and I was forced to kill a character anyway. It begged the question of how much of an impact my decisions actually had on the overall story. Was there really any reason for me to spare the countless beasts that attacked me?
I honestly don’t know, and even now after putting several hours into the game, I’m still not sure of the full extent morality has on the overall story.
Graphics and Music
The Revenant Prince employs a mixture of pixel and painted art style, providing a very nostalgic feeling for those who have played and enjoyed any of the early Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest games. Nomina Games list Golden Sun and Grandia as specific titles of inspiration for The Revenant Prince, and for a pixel game, it looks pretty good. There’s a lot of colour, and the character portraits that pop up whenever a conversation is going on is a nice touch, giving you a better idea of what the characters actually look like outside their pixel forms. All of this is complemented nicely by the music, which fits the overall feel of the game perfectly. The music didn’t get annoying after an extended period of time either, which was a definite plus in my book.
Lack of Direction
Other than the perhaps overly complicated storyline that I mentioned earlier, I quite enjoyed the game once I got into it. There are, however, a few things that I felt the game lacked. The first is a map. While you can make use of teleportation points called ‘obelisks’ to travel between points you’ve already visited before, there is no actual map. This makes navigating through the game somewhat difficult at times, especially when some pathways are hard to see with the lack of depth in pixel-type games. This left me spending a good deal of time wandering around until I stumbled across something or someone relevant to the plot, which wasn’t ideal.
There are a nice number of weapons within the game, from long-ranged guns and bows to close-quarters greatswords and dual swords imbued with magic. Like with most RPGs, you can upgrade your weapons at a blacksmith, provided you have the right material – there are only two you need, so the process is fairly simple. The only downside is that, when buying weapons, there doesn’t seem to be a way to compare stats against the weapons you already have, which led to me wasting money on weapons that didn’t hold up against the gear I was already using.
My biggest issue with The Revenant Prince though was the lack of direction and guidance. The game leaves too much for the player to discover for themselves. There were far too many times I was wandering around trying to figure out what exactly I was supposed to be doing and where I was supposed to be going. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the amount of freedom within the game, but I feel there should have been more direction regarding the main storyline to keep the player on track and stop them from wandering into places they perhaps shouldn’t.
Protagonist Troy is the only playable character, but the world of The Revenant Prince is filled to the brim with bizarre NPCs. There are plenty of generic townspeople, but there are also some pretty weird additions that make you wonder just what sort of world in which the game takes place. One of the first such NPCs was an anthropomorphic rabbit called Farrah, but she wasn’t the only strange character. I also came across a talking balloon and a hat with legs – weird, right?
Despite the variety of characters, I noticed there was somewhat of a lack of character depth to those who had any sort of role to play within the game. Even Troy, our protagonist, doesn’t seem to have much of a personality, and the additional characters who appear throughout the game (some of whom can assist in battle) have nothing that made them particularly memorable. They don’t stick around long either, so it is hard to get attached. I’m not sure if I did something to warrant the outcome, but one minute I had a new companion who was desperate to join me on my journey and then the next, she was gone and has yet to be mentioned again.
All in all, The Revenant Prince is a unique experience with enjoyable gameplay and wacky characters, but its overly complex storyline and lack of guidance can make it a little difficult to progress through the game, especially early on. Despite this, once you’ve overcome these hurdles and actually have an idea of what you’re doing, you can easily find yourself losing hours out of your day exploring what The Revenant Prince has to offer, and for £7.19 on Steam (currently on sale for £6.11), it’s worth giving it a go if you like pixel RPGs.
Developer: Nomina Games
Publisher: Nomina Games
Release Date: 13th August 2020
Gaming Respawn’s copy of The Revenant Prince was provided by the publisher.