Posted on February 28, 2019 by Dennis(@LyonHart_) in Reviews, Switch, Switch eShop
Release date: February 26, 2019
RemiLore is a beautiful game at face value that brings you into a fantasy world of magic and adventure. You’ll play as the protagonist Remi and her grimoire companion throughout dungeons that are vibrant and stand out compared to other titles within the genre. However, while things may seem appealing and inviting at the surface, what you ultimately have is a game with a bit of an identity crisis as it incorporates so many elements between its story, gameplay, structure, and mechanics that it feels like a mess attempting too much at once just to stand out further. There’s promise to be had every time you play through it, but nothing ever clicks or feels as if it belongs, making the entire experience feel like one big “what’s the point?” scenario.
RemiLore has you playing as high school student Remi who, while sweeping up the dusty library at her school against her will, happens to notice an out of place book laying on a table in a corner of the room. Upon closer inspection, the book happens to be a grimoire that becomes awakened because of her. The grimoire becomes startled and, out of its control, accidentally brings both of them into the world of Ragnoah – a magical place that has been unfortunately plagued by a ton of mechanical beings and monsters. Once the dust settles and Remi calms down after being furious about being transported to an unfamiliar place, she finds out that the book’s name is Lore, and that he’s a bit of a prankster, but with his magic and her skills, they can both find a way back home as they go through Ragnoah and take care of any mechanical creatures along the way.
The story is fairly straightforward and has tons of dialogue to keep you entertained and help with character development, which occurs sporadically throughout your runs through dungeons – also known as Acts. But the most unfortunate part is that while the story is cute and has a ton of magical girl elements that actually tries to be somewhat interesting, in a weird way the game would rather you not progress with it as it treats it as if its an afterthought. This is where its identity crisis begins to seep in, starting with the fact that it’s a rogue-lite with a story that doesn’t care whether you understand what’s going on or the objective of what it is you’re trying to accomplish.
For those that just want some dungeon-crawling to quench their thirst, RemiLore allows for a single-player experience where you can omit the story entirely from the main menu. If you plan on doing co-op multiplayer, you’ll have no choice but to forego the story as there is no option otherwise. This could be fine for some people, but I’m rather big on story in games, and while I don’t find it entirely necessary for every game to have it – especially arcade titles or even puzzles – the biggest part that annoys me about RemiLore that should be reiterated is that, yes, it’s a rogue-lite, meaning chances are when you die you’ll have to start all over again, either from the beginning of the level, chapter, or game entirely, with some or all of your equipment missing and upgrades being a facet of your imagination. However, there is no option whatsoever to skip dialogue or cutscenes you’ve seen already since you’re starting over after you die – and this includes everything. Considering the length of some of the conversations between Remi, Lore, and other characters you meet along the way, even my most rapid of “A” pressing was no match for the two-minute sandglass on my desk. You want to skip certain segments? Then skip the story entirely – or play with a friend.
The dungeons in RemiLore are very colorful and really pretty, with a backdrop for multiple of its Acts that are almost distracting because of how nice they are to look at, but the structure of the dungeons themselves leave repetition front and center with little to no variation between rooms or enemies. Once you enter a room, which is a square, waves of enemies come at you and you do your best to use your skills and upgrades to survive and live to fight another day (or maybe see a new cutscene). Upgrades are done by using the dessert you collect – yes, delicacies are the currency – and going into the menu and choosing which skills you’d like to unlock. You can enhance a certain weapon’s proficiency as well as add passives and buffs to gameplay and items, like cheaper store discounts, potions heal more, certain MP moves have greater effects like a longer freeze period, more slow time, attack speed, and more to make the gameplay more fine-tuned to your style. There’s a moveset for some odd reason, because every weapon more or less has the same style of attack. The combat presents itself like it’s a hack-and-slash, yet it controls like it’s a twin stick shooter since you’ll be using both sticks most of your fights. This is another part of its identity crisis that just doesn’t sit well for its pacing and approach to dungeon-crawling, making it feel like a poor man’s Ruiner or Hong Kong Massacre. The cool thing is that there are over 200 weapons to collect and choose from, but when very little standout to feeling unique, you pretty much don’t care what you’re holding so long as it does damage and can get you through the next Act.
Nicalis publishes some of the most unique, lively, and glowing games on the market that are as nice to look at as they are to play, and while the trend continues visually for RemiLore, the gameplay just doesn’t cut it for its asking price and what it ultimately delivers. I have no doubt RemiLore will find an audience mixed of JRPG aficionados, dungeon-crawling enthusiasts, and rogue fans, but the way everything comes together to bring something new makes RemiLore feel unrealized and incohesive. I love everything about the title from its music, to its art direction, to its wonderful use of colors – not to mention it runs well in both docked and handheld mode – and just about everything is appealing except for the gameplay itself. I love a challenge and don’t mind tough enemies or situations where trial and error and repeated attempts eventually lead to triumph, but it constantly feels like a slap in the face when it all feels like it’s for nothing every time you make a grave mistake, and are left in this never-ending loop that’s further taunted by procedurally generated dungeons making sure all your preparations to overcome any obstacles from your previous attempts won’t apply to your next. All I want to do is go back and clean up that dusty library.
If you look at RemiLore superficially, you’d expect a cute JRPG with dungeon elements that’ll take you through a somewhat magical girl scenario. It’s a safe approach to have a story or a game like this, with cute and charming characters taking on baddies and maybe better coming to terms with their own faults or struggles along the way for some slice-of-life implementation. Unfortunately, what you end up with is a rogue-lite with a bit of an identity crisis and a story that doesn’t contribute much. Controls are straightforward and accessible with a hack-and-slash approach to it, but the combat doesn’t offer much for combos or any flashy animations that make it exciting or a spectacle to watch. The designs of the enemies and environments, however, are vibrant and beautiful, stepping away from the usually dreary and ominous tones most dungeon crawlers and rogue-lites typically have that perpetuate a ubiquitous feeling of dread and trepidation. At the end of the day, however, if you’re absolutely foaming at the mouth for a new rogue-lite, then there’s no need to immediately jump on this. RemiLore looks good, but it doesn’t necessarily feel good or play well, and it feels like it’s all for nothing the moment you die, making for a frustrating experience that is neither rewarding through trial and error, nor worthwhile when you do accomplish each act and overcome bosses.
RemiLore review copy provided by Nicalis for the purposes of this review.