With Reverie, New Zealand-based developer Rainbrite has cooked up a fantastic, fun and must-buy game for the supposedly ‘dead’ (but still defiantly breathing) PlayStation Vita. Everything here clicks from the Earthbound-inspired visuals to the gameplay that references The Legend of Zelda‘s puzzle, enemy and trapped-filled dungeons and overworld map. Adding to the perfection, you get an interesting take on the Māori myth Māui and the Giant Fish woven throughout the game that makes the adventure all the more interesting.
Sure, the main character is just a nondescript kid named Tai who just so happens to end up spending his summer vacation saving the tiny island he’s on visiting his grandparents from all sorts of evil during his stay. But Rainbrite has wisely made the kid quite the young man of action on his trip to this new Adventure Island. You’ll get a cricket bat, yo-yo, a sort of Nerf gun and other goodies as you take on the game’s six nicely-sized dungeons and a somewhat dangerous overworld packed with local wildlife out to gnaw or peck you to death. Spot-on controls help out here, but you’ll need to be constantly on your toes because some enemies (such as angry hopping statues) won’t react until you’re in whispering distance.
As expected, sub-bosses and big bosses lie in wait in those enemy-filled dungeons and they’re all a challenge, but pretty amusing challenges at times. Taking them out nets you some nice bonuses and a bit more lore. In a weird way, the game feels like a brief history of one Māori myth wrapped in a comfortable and easy to digest game format, and it’s a welcome taste that needs another installment. In addition to the colorful, clean visuals (and there are some nice side-scrolling segments here to break up the top-down stuff), the music is somewhat phenomenal. It’s retro-inspired and that haunting theme that rolls in when Tai begins his trip actually gave me a slight spine chill because I really didn’t know what to expect from that point onward. Of course, the rest of the score was equally brilliant, plucking just the right inspiration from the classics, yet sounding fresh throughout.
If you need a break from the action, there’s a tricky arcade shooter you can try for a high score on and collecting those different bird feathers is actually fun and educational because all those birds are based on their real-life counterparts. Who said you can’t learn anything from playing videogames? All in all, Reverie is pretty much a perfect game because it nails all it needs to down tightly enough that any complaints are minor. A ‘save by room’ feature would be welcome, as would a way to snag pickups just out of reach if needed. Other than that, I’m actually dying to play the upcoming PS4 version whenever that’s ready to go just so I can record gameplay for posterity on my under-watched Youtube channel. Anyway, if you own a Vita, you NEED Reverie. If you don’t own a Vita, it’s a game worth buying one for (and YES, there are a great many more reasons to take the plunge). Sony have given up on the handheld, but thanks to a stalwart few, that flame isn’t dying out for at least a little longer.
Score: A+ (100!)
(Review code provided by the publisher)