Every now and then, a game will come along that has been completely off the radar. Yet when you start playing it, you are immediately charmed.
Such a game has appeared in my life recently. That game is Reverie: Sweet As Edition from Eastasiasoft. Billed as an action adventure based around the legends of Maui, it promises to be an interesting ride. It’s time to head off to a tropical island and have a mooch about…
The story found in Reverie: Sweet As Edition is based on the legend of Maui and the Giant Fish, where the demigod fished up an island with the aid of a magic fishing hook. In the beginning, four brothers are out fishing. When one of them pulls up an island, the others are overcome with jealousy and throw him into the sea. With his last breath, the soggy brother curses his brothers and so they are trapped as spirits on the shores of Totomi Island. Which just so happens to be where we are going on our holidays! Funny how fate works, eh? Armed with nothing but our wits as we begin, we have to go to lay these spirits to rest and restore peace to the island.
Presentation of the game is wilfully retro, reminding of nothing less than a Link to the Past on the Super Nintendo. It has all the hallmarks of an early Zelda game, with a top down view, cute sprites in a pixelated style, and a variety of locations to visit; most of which can only be accessed with extra equipment. So far, so Zelda, right?
Well, imagine if Zelda was written by a bunch of New Zealand types, with their sarcastic sense of humour and outlook on life reflected in the game. You’ll then be pretty close to what Reverie is trying to achieve.
Your weapon is a cricket bat, as an example, and there are nods to other sports to find, such as a secret rugby training facility and so on. The way the game looks is very nice indeed, and while it can be hard to see which gaps you can – and can’t – walk through, all in all the visual looks and the way the camera operates are all very good. Sound is nice too; minimal in design, with the story given to us through the medium of speech bubbles. But this is to be expected.
What about the gameplay though, I hear you ask? Well, it is again, at risk of repeating myself, classic copy and paste from the Zelda games. As you’d expect, when you look around the island and figure out where you need to go, there are enemies along the way that you need to deal with. The cricket bat you are given is your main weapon throughout the game, swung about with a button of your choice, which is a nice touch.
You can also have two extra pieces of equipment that are mapped to the Y and RB buttons; finding and using the right item at the right time is key to progressing. These include a dart gun, which is pretty much a Nerf gun, used to shoot foes and hit targets to unlock doors, for instance. There is also a snorkel that allows you to cross water, some wheel shoes that allow you to move faster, a yo-yo that can stun foes and move levers at range, and many more. These bits of kit are usually found in dungeons, and as is usual for this type of game, the item you find in the dungeon usually has a role to play in defeating the boss of the dungeon.
In the dungeons that we find, there are a variety of puzzles that have to be solved. These usually involve pressure plates that lower walls, that we have to find a way to keep depressed while we go off and do other stuff. The puzzles aren’t particularly difficult, but they do require some careful, almost lateral, thinking to solve. As an example, in the third dungeon, I had to shoot three targets, and while I soon figured out how to hit two of them, the third had a wall in front of it that stopped me shooting from the obvious place. It was soon figured out that darts can be fired diagonally; and that was the key. Basically, just keep trying weird and wonderful things, eventually one of them will work!
There aren’t a massive amount of issues with Reverie: Sweet As Edition, which is nice to see. But those which are present are quite annoying. There is a bit of a misunderstanding about where the boundary between the land and the water is, with you able to swim far enough onto land for the enemies to hit. Because the game thinks you are swimming, you cannot use your weapons. When the last foe you need to kill to clear a room is on an island, this will cause some naughty words to be said. It isn’t always clear whether you can get through a gap in the scenery either; again, an issue when you are being chased by a boss. But otherwise, Reverie: Sweet As Edition is, well, pretty sweet.
Reverie: Sweet As Edition is not going to set the world alight, but apart from Shalnor Legends: Sacred Lands, this is the closest you’ll find to an old skool Zelda game on the Xbox. It deserves some recognition for that alone. There is a good amount of fun to be had here, and the humour running through helps with that.
All in all, if you fancy a Zelda style game that doesn’t fit the usual mold, Reverie: Sweet As Edition is as good as any you could try.