Strap on your budgie smugglers and head on down to the video game version of New Zealand.
Just by looking at the screenshots of Reverie, it's hard not to immediately be reminded of Earthbound. The visuals are not only quite reminiscent of Nintendo's classic; the main character's design is comparable to Ness, too. Even his weapon of choice (a cricket bat) is rather similar to Ness' trademark baseball bat. While Reverie looks like a slightly less detailed Earthbound, it actually plays much more like an early Legend of Zelda game. The island of Toromi shares a lot of similarities to Hyrule as well; most specifically, the labyrinthine dungeons that are hidden within its mountains, islands, and forests.
Instead of Link or Ness, you play as a young boy named Tai who is on vacation visiting his grandparents. There, he finds out that the spirits of four brothers are waging war against one another and it's starting to cause chaos on the island. The story that follows is influenced by the New Zealand folklore story of Maui and the Giant Fish where four fisherman brothers go out to sea and catch a massive fish but let their greed overcome them as they chop up the fish and claim parts of it for their own. The New Zealand influence goes beyond the story and is also shown in conversations with NPCs and some of the locations in the game including a church with a design based on the Christ Church in Russell.
Reverie features five increasingly complex dungeons complete with massive bosses at the end. It also has a large overworld packed with puzzles, characters, and different environments. Throughout the campaign, many of the NPCs will give you small quests that you must complete in order to access the next dungeon although most of these quests are quite simple. As you earn new abilities and items from NPCs and dungeons, you'll be able to progress and explore further into the island.
While playing through the campaign, I became a little confused as to who the target audience is for Reverie. The entire overworld and first three dungeons are all overly simple and perfect for younger gamers looking to get into the genre. However, the final two dungeons are quite a bit more complex and great for more seasoned gamers. For me personally, I wish the difficulty had ramped up much quicker as I enjoyed the final two dungeons much more than anything else in the game. On the other hand, I'd expect younger and more casual gamers to get seriously stuck on some of the puzzles in the final dungeons. A couple of other issues detract from Reverie's charm as well. Combat is competent but far from remarkable as most enemies can just be stunned and beaten into submission. Also, while it has some seriously clever and funny usable items, regularly having to swap between them in the pause menu quickly becomes a chore.
Reverie's New Zealand influences make it unique and its visuals ooze with charm. However, the combat isn't quite as endearing. Also, the end-game puzzles prove that Rainbite knows how to craft quality brain-teasers but I wish they started to pop up much earlier.
- + Based on interesting New Zealand folklore
- + Colorful and charming visuals throughout the campaign plus a good sense of humour
- + Final dungeons offer challenging puzzles
- - The majority of the campaign is too easy
- - Mediocre combat
- - Unintuitive inventory system