New Zealand is hardly ever featured in games, and yet it’s a part of the world that’s home to all kinds of stories that could provide the foundations of other tales. One such studio that has looked at these stories is New Zealand-based RainBite, and that has led to the creation of Reverie. The game originally released last year has now come to the Switch in a ‘Sweet As’ edition.
To set the scene, Tai has gone to visit his grandparents on Toromi Island, an island has quite a morbid origin story. It goes back thousands of years when four brothers went fishing and one of them, Heke, managed to hook and pull the entire island up from the sea. Growing jealous of his mythological accomplishment, the other three brothers threw him overboard, but as Heke sank to the bottom of the sea he cursed them to haunt the island. So since that day the spirits of the brothers have resided on Toromi, and now they’re agitated, threatening the island’s existence.
Tomori isn’t a particularly safe environment outside of the confines of the small town, with wildlife and paranormal creatures that are dangerous to Tai. He can defend himself with a handy baseball bat to swing at the creatures to get rid of them, a yo-yo to stun enemies, and a nerf gun to hit from afar. There are also tools like a shovel and snorkel to new areas once you’ve collected them. While areas are off limits to start with, Tomori isn’t a large place and you can explore a lot of it quite quickly, though you will be spending the majority of your time in the dungeons.
Reverie contains classic dungeon design elements with enemies to beat and puzzles to complete. Don’t let the retro art style fool you into a sense of security, as some of the dungeons can become labyrinthine and feature puzzles whose solutions aren’t all that obvious even after a pondering them for a while. The early dungeons are fairly simple, but as you get nearer the endgame they become pretty tough. There were a couple of occasions where puzzles just stumped me and I had to take a break to think solutions through. Once you actually work out what you’re supposed to it all feels so obvious.
Even with all of the challenges present, Reverie is a game you can complete in a few hours. The gameplay loop itself is pretty simple with combat not really veering away from hitting things with Tai’s bat, even in the boss fights. Those fights are easy to work out and get through in a matter of moments. Combat can get a little intense in rooms with a few enemies coming at you, but it’s really the puzzles that provides the true challenge in Reverie.
Reverie isn’t going to be for everyone, but it can act as a good introduction to the dungeon crawler genre. It isn’t too difficult and may draw in a younger audience to experience something different. Of course, older players who enjoy dungeon crawlers may find that Reverie is a nice and simple experience to while away a few hours. It’s colourful retro style look is reminiscent of older Nintendo titles such as the classic Legend of Zelda games, or the original Pokemon games. It’s a distinctive art style that can still hold up and is a nice game to look at, in my opinion. The way the soundtrack loops can get a bit repetitive, though.