It’s time to go old school with a classic action-RPG adventure in Stories of Bethem: Full Moon. This magical tale, developed by GuGames, aims to provide a game suitable for the gamers of yesteryear and those in the modern day. Taking a classic experience and adapting it to fit in with the current style is by no means an easy feat. Does Stories of Bethem: Full Moon create the perfect balance between the two, or will it look completely out of place instead?

Well, it doesn’t look out of place, mainly because it seems to be a trend with a lot of games at the moment to go for that retro feel. But getting into the crux of Stories of Bethem, it follows the tale of a young chap named Khoma who’s on a mission to save his dad; he got a little too curious in the Blue Witch’s territory and felt her wrath in the form of a curse. Now, Khoma must garner the help of the Red Witch to undo the curse placed onto his father, however, she needs a few objects first and that is where the adventure to find all eight Oneiric Objects within the world of Bethem begins.

Naturally, exploration is a massive part of the top-down adventure, and not only will you need to navigate around different outdoor areas, which mainly consist of loads of bushes and trees, but also dungeon style caves where many of the treasures are. Having a decent map would be a good start though as I found myself going back and forth along the same damn paths many times. Checking the map in my inventory helped little as it’s visually as basic as it gets. The first signs of its old school roots.

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Magic plays a large part in proceedings, with new spells being gained over time, and the initial spell allows the destruction of barrels and bushes in your path. You’ll notice other obstacles causing obstructions, but you’ll need to wait until your wizardry skills are more advanced to move those or destroy them. Obviously, it’ll cost Mana to use spells, so conservation is important to prevent running out of juice in the midst of a battle.

Enemies can be taken down using only spells – there are no swords or axes in this one. The range of enemy types quickly becomes boring, and once you’ve seen one bouncy ball thing or spider, you’ve seen their different coloured, stronger relatives. Sure there are a few more types than that, but the only real difference in how to approach them comes in the amount of time you spend to shoot a spell their way; it’s not the most exciting combat.

Bosses, on the other hand, are without a doubt super cool, not only due to their badass designs, but also their attack patterns and the strategy needed to take them down once and for all. These tend to be guarding key items on your quest and so it makes sense to be trickier than the rest. If I could’ve just jumped from boss to boss, that would’ve been great.

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So, the exploration got on my nerves having to revisit the same places and often getting lost, tearing my hair out at what small opening I must’ve missed. Don’t get me started on the darkened caves, which are really annoying when you can’t see much ahead except for a bit of light emitting from Khoma. But there are a few little quirky puzzles to bring a bit of logic to the table, with the best ones involving rocks and balloons.

The balloon one surprised me at first; I wandered into a room and saw a mini hot air balloon in an enclosed area and I had no idea what the purpose was. Eventually I grasped it, with the idea to move it towards a fiery part and destroy any obstacles in the way of its path. Trial and error comes into play, and fortunately a quick exit from the room before re-entering can reset the puzzle if you make a mistake.

Holes in the floor need to be filled by rocks, and although not an exclusive task to a puzzling section, it’ll often place you in areas full of holes. Deciding which rock can be pushed into each hole can be pretty tasking, but never to the point of frustration. The puzzles are something Stories of Bethem does really well.

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Alongside the main quest, there are little side quests to pick up such as finding a girl’s teddy bear in a maze. These just further add the need to scour every inch of land, and having to go over previously decimated land, only to have to remove all the obstacles again simply adds time wasted onto everything you do. If you want to get more powerful though, it’s a must to at least find the special medallions. There’s a Witch by the lake that collects these in return for bracelets, in order to upgrade the magical powers of Khoma. She’s quite greedy though, so you’ll need lots of these coins after the first one is traded.

Stories of Bethem: Full Moon embraces all of its old school roots, but as I am more of a modern day gamer, I feel it takes too many of them and doesn’t add enough fresh ideas. The puzzles are great, there’s a vast land to explore and the bosses look darn cool compared to everything else. Sadly, it’ll waste your time having to re-trace steps, you will get bored of seeing the same features and although the story tries to be ‘hip’, it fails to grip me in the slightest way.

Stories of Bethem: Full Moon is a retro game, with retro ideas which doesn’t do anything remarkable and feels a little out of place on today’s latest console, despite it being a decent experience overall. Also, the price is reasonable enough for anyone looking for a blast from the past!

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