When evil distorted fiends referred to as revenants suddenly appeared, the world was overcome. Their strength exceeded that of men, and even once killed these humanlike creatures, devoid of emotion and driven only by their thirst for blood, would rise from the dead and continue their relentless attack. The world’s people have not only grown to fear these immortal bringers of death and destruction, but are now succumbing to a mysterious plague that threatens to eradicate them from existence.
It’s a stark opening to Revenant Saga, that, despite the cheerful melody that is most certainly a poor companion to the moment, soon sees us learn that it has been two months since protagonist Albert lost his parents to the plague. His devout friend Anna tries to shake him out of his endless mourning, and, receiving a mark on the back of her hand after witnessing a vision, she explains that those with the stigmata have the capacity to become valkyries with the power to save others and defeat the revenants.
When Anna’s parents become stricken with the plague, Albert promises to help only to learn from travelling physician Dr. Moreau that the medicine needed to cure it is only made available to the King and aristocrats. Hard at work on his own medicine, the doctor explains that it only has a 50 percent rate of success, and asks you to help him test its effectiveness.
Heading north to the doctor’s laboratory and placed in the machinery used for the experiment, an early revelation comes in that Dr. Moreau is responsible for not only spreading the plague but also for turning humans into revenants – a process that replaces the human soul with that of a demon. The Rystorian Order arrives to destroy the laboratory, but the doctor makes his escape and the procedure to turn Albert into a revenant is left incomplete and he is buried in a nearby grave, believed to be dead.
There’s a lot that developer Exe-Create and publisher KEMCO crams into the opening 30 minutes to Revenant Saga, and, as an RPG with mobile origins, it’s clear that the intention behind why so many pieces are put in place is to encourage players to stick it out for the long haul.
When Albert wakes at his resting place, he is shocked to learn that he now co-exists with the demon, Magnus, and has two souls. More than a simple plot device, this lends Albert the ability to permanently kill revenants and demons, with which he vows to use it to hunt down and kill every last revenant in the world, and exact his revenge on Dr. Moreau.
From this point, Revenant Saga continues to play out just like any RPG. You can continue to progress in the main quest, become distracted with (pointless) subquests from NPCs that need some help, and bump into companion characters with whom you will form a party -strengthening them over time with experience and forging deadlier weapons.
In combat, your party will rely on Skill Points (SP) to perform any action that will help to turn the tide of battle, with the chance to learn new skills as they level up. There are abnormal status effects to consider such as paralysis, poison, rage, sleep, and gnome, while there’s the chance that a Burst is triggered that can let you attack with skills without them consuming SP.
Tapping into their newfound demonic powers they can transform into more powerful beings that let them deal more and receive less damage, but comes with the risk that they cannot have their health restored or be revived in a transformed state. It’s a risk worth taking though, thanks to the Synchro Gauge that steadily builds and heightens the damage that you deal to your enemies, even though there’s also the chance that as the gauge fills your character loses control to the demon inside them.
It’s probably the best gameplay mechanic that Revenant Saga has and something that it needs seeing as, beyond it and the somewhat intriguing storyline, it is painfully average. The localisation is a commendable effort even if the lines written for each character are often a little wooden when reading back, while the music is passable – having plenty of energy but never really seeming to be able to leave a lasting impression.
It is the art direction that remains to be the game’s Achilles heel, an unintentional throwback to the PlayStation era thanks to the limitations in what graphics can be pumped out on mobile. Whether that be an overreliance on basic animations, character models that lack detail, or sparse towns and villages, this has now become an unfavourable stigma for KEMCO’s releases and I long to see what they could achieve with a game that was built for consoles – rather than always relying on porting across their mobile output.
Where Revenant Saga summons strength in the ideas for its combat systems, it falls short in nearly every other regard. It’s never pleasant to have to rag on a game, but there’s a lack of care with the whole experience more than anything. And, if the developer doesn’t care enough, then the general impression that the player is left with leaves them not caring as much about the world that they are placed in. And that is a worrying flaw to have.