It has been a while since I’ve booted up my Vita, and out of nowhere I get the opportunity to play two indie Vita exclusives. You read that correctly, I’ve played them both, and even I’m not sure I wrote that right.
But here we are, with indies supporting our wicked little handheld, and the later of these two is even NZ made, Reverie.
Reverie tells the story of Tai, a young man who has gone to the fictional Toromi Island where he finds himself trying to fix the local issues being caused by ancient spirits on the island. The issue was that Heke, who went fishing and pulled up Toromi Island, was pushed to his death by his brother. Cursing as he drowned, they all got trapped in the island as spirits.
As such Tai, who starts exploring and helping people out, finds himself venturing deep into dungeons, fighting the physical manifestations of these spirits, and ultimately freeing them. It’s a more unique story than I expected, with some Aotearoa flavour.
The art style is the first thing you will notice. A lot of pixel art tries to replicate an old and generally simple looking style. Reverie uses smaller pixels for its pixel art meaning everything is more detailed and gorgeous looking. This allows them to create detailed birds, enemies, and flags, to give the game its authentic NZ flavour.
Also, the main collectable is finding NZ bird’s feathers, because you know, that’s pretty much all of our wildlife that isn’t a bug.
Speaking of NZ flavour, the game is dripping from wall to wall with it. There is more New Zealand in here than a Kiwi doing a Gollum impression, while the dairy sells you your fizzy drink, right between a guy playing rugby and another wearing his budgie smugglers. As a person who plays too many games, it’s delightful seeing the sheer number of Kiwiana references jammed into such a small space.
The gameplay is a classic top down, exploring, hacking and slashing with a cricket bat game. You get a few tools throughout the game for puzzle beating, including a nerf gun, and for something quintessentially kiwi, a pet rock with googly eyes. The dungeons aren’t too big, but the puzzles are clever enough that it may stump you, but it won’t stall you for long. This stops the game being frustrating, while it remains challenging and fun.
Though with a lot of games like this, the actual combat, and interactions get repetitive, but the game is short enough that it doesn’t get stale. Not everything is sunshine and roses though, as it has some limitations. One of which is you can only assign three tools including your cricket bat, which means you must regularly pause the game, to switch items, while trying to solve a puzzle. An item wheel, or being able to cycle between items would be infinitely more convenient.
This is especially the case with healing items. You need to pause the game, assign your fizzy drink (didn’t know that name was a NZ thing), then un-pause, use the item, then pause to switch back to the objects you were trying to use. It’s a real faff, though as the game doesn’t get too hard often, it’s not an issue you’ll face regularly.
Reverie is a simple game, that uses beautifully designed pixel art, Kiwi references, and a lot of humour to make it a wonderful game. It’s an experience that most kiwis should enjoy, and many other should find at least intriguing, or strange. If your Vita is gathering a bit of dust, then make sure you dig it out for this treasure.