Revived Witch first impressions preview - "Retro art, but it might not be the retro gameplay you're looking for"
Reminiscent of old-school retro RPGs, Revived Witch features pixel art sprites and dungeon explorations that are all kinds of nostalgic. Yostar’s charming new entry into the RPG genre is supposedly a narrative-driven title with a gacha element to keep up with the times, but is this mishmash of factors worth the download space on your phone?
The story of Revived WitchIn Revived Witch, you play as the titular heroine who wakes up in a dreamlike forest with no memory of who she is and how she got there. All you see is a tower in the distance that’s seemingly calling out to you, and when you step inside, your journey to discover more about the world around you - and about yourself - begins.
While the amnesia trope is fairly common in narratives as a convenient excuse to make the player experience the world through fresh eyes, I didn’t feel like it was executed too well in Revived Witch. It’s just that the main protagonist is already pretty “blah” as she is, with no personality and no lines of dialogue of her own.
For a game that’s supposedly narrative-driven, it’s a shame to have a bland main character who’s not compelling at all. Plus, when you pit her against all of the other more colourful and more interesting characters from the gacha pool, she’s clearly the first choice to remove from your party lineup without hesitation.
By the way, you can also increase your affection with Dolls (characters you summon) to unlock their stories. Sadly, these are simply texts of their past with no actual cutscenes, so it begs the question of whether or not increasing affection is worth it.
Revived Witch graphics and gameplayThe aesthetics of the game, thankfully, have more than enough flavour to make up for the static main character. The pixel-art graphics remind me so much of retro Star Ocean games. You’ll have to explore dungeons and solve puzzles to get from one point to another, whether there are levers you need to manipulate or switches you can turn on and off.
During dungeon explorations, you’ll come across treasure chests as expected of the genre, as well as restoration spots that replenish your HP. You may also stumble upon boosts that give you a quick buff - for instance, one particular boost can render you invisible to aggro enemies so you can easily slip past them in a narrow passageway.
Combat in Revived WitchWhen you do encounter a monster along the way, you enter the game’s 2D battle mode where you fight foes with a party of three. The formation is very important here - whoever’s in the frontline will take the most damage. So, be careful about slotting your party members in the preparation screen, by the way - the rightmost slot is for the frontline character and not the other way around (I learned that the hard way).
Characters will have different specialities beyond their unique skills. Tanks will, of course, keep your squishier character protected, while Assassins deal the most damage when it comes to physical attacks. You also have your regular Mages and your Healers, and it’s an absolute joy to test out the different character combinations that’ll give you the strongest party.
Of course, with this being a gacha game, there’s an auto-fight function here as well as a speed-up button, which is a little weird for me, to be honest. The game wants you to spend actual time and effort when exploring the dungeons, and yet allows you to rely on auto-battles when combat starts. I just think it’s a little contradictory - exactly which kind of gamers are they trying to please here?
What’s the appeal?That, I feel, is really my main issue with Revived Witch. I wasn’t quite sure how much time and attention I should allot with every playthrough, because it’s a combination of focused dedication and AFK elements. It’s a gacha game with your typical summons, stamina/energy system, and grindy raid dungeons for collecting upgrade materials. But at the same time, it wants to appeal to retro gamers who’re looking for actual puzzle-solving and real-time navigation through dungeons and maps (which are a little bland and repetitive, if I’m being honest).
There are also tons of other features to unlock, including a Cottage for your summoned characters to hang out and a bunch of other crafting mechanics. While I do appreciate the added features, it just feels to me like the game is trying too hard to be everything at once without really knowing how to pick a focus and stick to it. It doesn’t feel pay-to-win though, which is a plus.
Also, old-school RPGs normally have convoluted storylines that grow deeper and deeper as you go along. For the closed beta Test, I didn’t really feel like the story was anything to write home about. In fact, if it weren’t for the absolutely breathtaking background music, I wouldn’t be motivated to go through the main campaign.
Overall, Revived Witch is waifu galore with an adorable pixel-art aesthetic plus a stunning musical score. Sadly, it suffers from an odd lack of focus as to the kind of game it wants to be (it’s nothing like Another Eden, which shines as a successful modernization of old-school RPG games). Still, there’s no official release date yet at the moment, so here’s hoping the game will still have plenty of time to work on improvements after this CBT.