The Road Less Traveled: Revenant Saga Review

Posted in Kulturecade by - June 30, 2017

It may not be a phrase you hear very often, but when I was growing up, KEMCO was one of my favorite video game developers. From games like Shadowgate and Sword of Hope to the much more well-known KEMCO gem, Top Gear, it seemed like almost everything they touched was gold. So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that KEMCO was still developing video games more than two decades later, in fact, you may remember that I reviewed one of their titles on the 3DS, Chronus Arc, back in 2015. That brings us to today’s game, originally released in 2014 on phones, Revenant Saga has finally made its way to the Sony platforms and is currently available on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PSVita.

Following the recent trend by KEMCO, Revenant Saga is a traditional Japanese-style RPG. Focusing on a young man named Albert. After losing his parents to a mysterious plague, he discovers that the parents of his childhood friend, Anna, have also contracted the plague. After meeting a traveling doctor who says he is working on a cure for the disease, Albert offers himself to the doctor as a test subject. He comes to the doctor’s lab; he learns that the doctor hasn’t been working on a cure, but rather he has been conducting experiments with demons to create Revenants. Revenants are a race of half demon hybrids that have been ravaging the world over the last few years and are believed to be responsible for the plague that killed Albert’s parents. During his experiments on Albert, a group from the Church of Rystoria attacks the doctor’s lab, and Albert is believed to be a casualty of the doctor’s experiments.

Albert wakes some time later to find that he feels odd and quickly learns that his body now houses the soul of a demon, making him a Revenant. Albert learns that Anna was among the lab’s casualties and vows to use his newfound powers as a Revenant to travel the world in search of the doctor and kill every Revenant he comes across. Albert soon finds himself wrapped up with the Church, the only organization capable of killing Revenants. The story has its twists and manages to stay interesting as Albert must find ways to hide his nature as a Revenant from the church or face the possibility of losing his life before he can avenge the death of his friend.

The story explores themes of loss, death and deception, making it a little different from your standard JRPG fare. Funny moments help to break up the darker themes with scenes like Albert and company punching one the villains while he attempts to monologue, which was one of my favorite scenes in the game. While the story didn’t do much to break any ground, it’s certainly nice to see a game where the main character is motivated more by revenge than by saving the world from some great evil.

You can expect typical fare from Revenant Saga in terms of mechanics and gameplay as it uses a standard 2D overworld map in the style of the Phantasy Star games on the Sega Genesis, with the battle system using a 3D approach. This is very different from the previous KEMCO title that I reviewed, Chronus Arc, as it used a more traditional 2D battle system. Revenant Saga’s battle system borrows heavily from other games, though that isn’t a terrible thing. The battle system’s visuals remind me of the PS2 era Wild Arms titles. While the battle system plays out much like you’d expect from a standard JRPG, the most interesting mechanic the system offers is the transformation mechanic. Transforming works in a similar style to the PS1 era classic Legend of Dragoon, where it provides a boost to your stats, but in exchange for the ability to heal your characters. This means that in return for a substantial stat boost, you can’t recover HP, restore status ailments, and if your character’s HP reaches zero while in the transformed state, you cannot revive that character for the remained of the battle. This may seem like a hindrance, but since you can transform and revert at will, it’s just a matter of keeping an eye on your HP while in battle and knowing when to go all in.

It’s one the presentation front where Revenant Saga suffers the most.  I understand that the game was originally released nearly three years ago on cell phones, but the game just doesn’t offer cutting edge visuals on the PSVita. Overworld visuals, as I mentioned above, remind me of the Phantasy Star titles on the Genesis, just with a bit more polish. The 3D visuals in the battle system look great, for what they are, but the Vita, PS3, and PS4 are capable of so much more. The music follows a similar formula, as what’s here is fine, but there isn’t a lot of variety. So, you’ll need to be ready to hear individual tracks ad nauseam. Not saying what’s here is bad as the music has a classic, almost Sega Genesis feel to it. However it’s certainly not catchy enough that you’ll find yourself humming any of the tunes throughout the day.

At the end of the day, the presentation doesn’t do anything to hurt the game. Unless you’re the kind of person who demands top of the line visuals from your games, then there isn’t anything wrong with what’s presented in Revenant Saga. The music is well composed, there just isn’t a lot of it and it can become grating after a while. When it gets down to it, if you’re the type of person who would be bothered by the presentation in Revenant Saga, then you likely aren’t going to give this game the time of day in the first place.

Despite the shortcomings in its presentation, I ultimately found Revenant Saga to be very enjoyable. The game’s story and style appealed to me, though I’m honestly not sure why. Much like Chronus Arc before it, it wasn’t a game I was looking forward to, but it scratched an itch that I wasn’t aware I had. Revenant Saga is a game that I couldn’t put down once I started it and I’m happy to see that a developer like KEMCO is still producing games of this quality even after all these years.

  • Release Date: 3/1/2017
This post was written by
He is a senior editor at Kulture Shocked. A seasoned gamer, Zach has been playing video games since the early 90s and have owned everything from the NES to the Xbox One. Aside from video games, Zach is a nerd of all trades and dabbles in everything from collectible card games to Gunpla.
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