Saturday, January 31, 2015
Brandish: The Dark Revenant (PSP) Review
Yes, as you may have heard, Brandish: The Dark Revenant is an actual PSP game, released in 2015! It is fully playable on the Vita, as that is what I used. This updated SNES game looks good, and made some positive changes to how the game plays.
The game starts after an explosion has dropped you and your rival into an underground area. As Ares, you must make your way to the surface and escape. The controls took some getting used to, since it uses the d-pad and I'm so used to the little analog stick. Circle is attack when an enemy is in front of you, but holding it will block. You also automatically block attacks from the front if you aren't moving or attacking. Combat has a pretty nice flow once you get used to it. Patience and proper placement is rewarded as you wait to strike until just after an opponent has. X is the jump button, which I do occasionally hit to strike, and jump over an opponent. It wasn't very often, but I sadly did it more than once.
Holding the analog stick in a direction and pressing Circle will activate one of the items (or spells) in the assigned slot. I did have some trouble with it not activating when I pressed the buttons, and I am not fully sure why. It wasn't a big deal, and it might not affect everyone, but I thought it worth mentioning.
Triangle is your "do stuff" button, which picks up items, activates switches and so on. Square is the inventory button. While I'm used to Triangle being inventory, I didn't mix them up, and quickly got used to them. Movement did take some adjustments, though. Up moves you forward, while left and right turn you instead of moving in that direction. The L and R Buttons will strafe in the corresponding direction. The controls are by no means bad, but they did take awhile to adjust to... and even then I would still make some mistakes.
Even though you have stats, levels and experience, the game feels more like an adventure game than an RPG. Most floors have enemies, but they aren't "filled" with them, so the combat is far from constant. Some floors don't have any foes, but are instead a big puzzle. Since many weapons only have so many uses, it's good that you aren't constantly fighting. Most floors straddle the line of having monsters with a few tricks to solve. It's really nice that it's not a dungeon killfest or a straight-up puzzle game, and I really like the balance Brandish has with all of its aspects.
There are over 40 floors to clear, spread over several areas, in the game. It will probably take you 15-20 hours for a first run. Beating the game once will unlock a bonus mode which will offer a few more hours of playtime. The game does have its share of difficulty, but I rarely found it hard. The two notable exceptions are the Darkness areas and the final boss. Those are hard, but they are the only things I felt were on the unfair side of the line. The rest of the game is a challenge, but very forgiving, since you can save just about anywhere, and you get plenty of healing items and weapons.
Game progression is linear, so there's no hub or safe areas. It was also engaging. Frequently I would sit down to play for a few minutes, but wound up playing for much longer because I was having fun. It's easy to get sucked in and just want to do "one more floor". Brandish: The Dark Revenant is a good game, and one I would recommend to fans of dungeon crawler RPGs and of the "punishing but fair" action games. It was more fun than I expected and it was a satisfying experience to get to the end, even if the final boss was annoying.