Reverie is a nostalgia trip for myself, with elements of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Earthbound cleverly presented perfectly on our immortal PS Vita. From New Zealand developer Rainbite, the developers have captured the magic of both titles above and gave us a more condensed adventure with dungeons, bosses, exploration, puzzles, and collectables – not to mention the many Easter Eggs hidden throughout the game as well. If you are looking for something to play on your Vita then I would say look no further – not to mention it’s Cross-buy with the PS4 version coming soon and offers up two platinums across both platforms!
Reverie is the story of a young kid named Tai who is spending his summer vacation visiting his grandparents on their tiny island. Soon into his vacation, Tai discovers there are four spirits who are waging war against each other, all of which are brothers. Their war is causing havoc to the island folk and thus causing chaos on the island itself. The story itself is loosely based upon the New Zealand folklore tale of Māui and the Giant Fish, which is emphasised by the dialogue and interactions you have with each of the brother’s spirits upon completion of their dungeons.
Armed with mundane weaponry such as a baseball bat, yo-yo and a nerf gun, you set out to take on five dungeons, collect feathers, help out various NPCs and bring peace to the island. It’s a big adventure and a big ask for such a small kid, but someone has to do it, and Tai isn’t afraid of anything – not even killer bees and living statues!
Reverie doesn’t only look like the aforementioned games above, it also controls like them with solid controls which work perfectly. You have your move and attack operations as usual and then you can equip up to two other pieces of equipment to use at a time. These are operated with Triangle and the R shoulder button. You also have a dodge mechanic and an interact button – so that’s all perfect. Also, none of this grid movement or locking you into certain pathways like some Action-RPGs from the past do, you have full movement controls just like in Zelda.
The one thing I didn’t like regarding the controls and the items is the lack of passive pickups. For example, at one point you pick up a snorkel so that you can both swim and dive underwater. To dive, you have to have the item equipped and you press the respective button to dive. However, in order to even swim, you must have this item equipped – thus using up one of your weapon slots. It’s not a big thing, I’m just used to games like Zelda having those items as a passive pickup that is always active without having to equip them. This was just my own personal opinion, it never impacted the game as it’s fast and easy to re-equipped, I just would have liked the swimming to be passive.
Regarding pickups and collectables, this game has plenty. There are 20 feathers to collect on the island, most of which are easy to spot but some can be a bit tricky. Some will involve helping out certain NPCs with their issues and some will just be lying there behind a bush or a reward for having an exploration swim. You also obtain the best weapon in gaming history – a pet rock with googly eyes which is called Steve. Steve can be used to hold down pressure plates in dungeons as well as shot or hit with your bat in order to slide around to solve puzzles – Steve is such a cool guy!
This brings us onto the puzzles – outside of the dungeons there isn’t many, there are the occasional parts of the game where you can’t progress until you obtain a certain item, but I wouldn’t call them puzzles as such. However, within the dungeons, we have many different types with varying difficulties. The first three dungeons are quite simple with the odd ‘flick a switch here’ and ‘stand on a plate there’ mechanics, but then the final two are a pain! In a good way. You have to seriously think about what your doing, use Steve to block lasers as you move about, hit him so he bounces onto plates you can’t reach, and even rotate the map to create new pathways for you to explore. The dungeons are really akin to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and you really get the vibe that they are familiar yet different at the same time.
The thing about the dungeons though is that once you enter one you can’t leave. This means you must take in all the health potions (well, food) you want as you won’t be returning home to get more and the enemies rarely drop any. I found that to be a little confusing, but at least it assured me that I had everything I needed to solve the puzzles as I really did get stuck a few times whilst trying to solve them – and it’s all because I forgot I had Steve.
In regards to combat itself, the game isn’t very difficult. Most of the smaller enemies can be destroyed with a few hits and the bosses aren’t too difficult either if you have played games like Zelda before. This opens up the game for younger audiences as well as older ones, although older people may find the combat a little too easy. Yet, on the other hand, younger people may find some of the puzzles in the later dungeons a little too taxing. It’s a strange situation if I’m being honest – All I could imagine would be if the combat could be ramped up a little and maybe drop a few ‘hint stones’ in the final dungeons for those who are having trouble?
Finally, on the exploration side of the game, there is a lot to see in Reverie – from the LotR reference in a hidden cave to the haunted church on a small island (which appears to be filled with ghosts of Monokuma), everything has its own charm and character. As mentioned previously, some areas are blocked off by water or bushes until you have the ability to proceed, but then you are free to go wherever you wish in search of those elusive feathers! During your adventure, you will stalk a fisherman as he tried to catch a fish for his family, participate in an arcade machine in order to get a high score (see if you can beat my 23660), save a crop field from an infestation, and even visit a spa in order to find a hermit’s lost item. The game wants you to go off the beaten path and take a look around.
The only issue I had here is that sometimes it wasn’t too clear what to do. On the map, you get a marker showing you where the next event point is, but you must find your own way there – this had me confused a few times. Just remember to look at all the gear you have picked up and talk to everyone, that’s the best advice I can give. Otherwise, you will stupidly forget about items that can operate things in the distance or forget to talk to a certain guy who is in charge of removing the rocks…
Once you finish the game it’s not over either. you can continue to find the missing feathers, get the last trophies or take on the final bonus dungeon – it’s all up to you. Although, if you are trying to clean up the trophies then you will have to do the other two points anyway.
Graphically what can I say? The game looks great. On my OLED original PS Vita, the colours pop and everything is so clean and clear – all the text is easy to read and you can even use the touchscreen if you choose to do so. Soundwise the game also has it nailed, from the chirpy chiptunes to the various dungeon soundtracks – it all works perfectly when it comes together and fully immerses you into the game.
Finally, just to remind you, Reverie is a Cross-buy title with two platinums per region. So, the EU and NA PS Vita versions both have their own trophy lists (with a platinum) and they are both getting PS4 counterparts soon with their own set of trophies (and platinum) soon. Also, Reverie is PSTV compatible for those out there who still own one, like me, so you can play it on your TV right now if you don’t want to play it on the Vita.
Reverie is a great game for the Vita with a playtime of around 6-8 hours if you don’t follow a guide and explore at your own pace as you seek out everything it has to offer. The combat can be a little simplistic at times but the puzzles more than make up for this as it offers a few really tricky dungeons along with some straightforward ones. The game emphasises talking to the NPCs and finding your own way around the map, as you aren’t hand-held or guided every step of the way – you must become Tai and live out his adventure for yourself. I would go as far as to say that this game is essential if you are looking for something charming yet thought-provoking on your PS Vita. Also, double platinum for one price…
- Very nostalgic both visually and mechanically
- Great soundtrack and very charming graphics
- Entertaining gameplay in the combat, exploration and puzzles
- Once you pick it up, you don't want to stop playing it
- Double platinum with Cross-buy (once the PS4 version is out) - and Steve!
- The combat can be a little simplistic
- Some later puzzles can be a bit tricky for younger people
- Swimming is an active item and not a passive skill