It is not often that I tackle an RPG to review for the site. Usually I am put off by the time necessary to invest, as I know how my playing habits have changed over the years. I used to love giving dozens of hours to titles, but as I grow older and more occupied at work, I relish in the shorter experiences. Hell, I had no complaints paying full price for the recently released Resident Evil 3 Remake, knowing that I would probably see the credits roll and not touch it for some time after that, even though it was supposedly only about seven hours long (my playthrough was just shy of that.) Operencia: The Stolen Sun however had an appealing almost simplicity to it that gave me a desire to experience it, especially knowing I could play in many short bursts on the Switch. Aiming to be a modernized representation of an old-school dungeon crawler, it does just that in a great way. My fellow writers and friends at P2R were not wrong in recommending it, as I had a great time smashing spiders and slushing the “un” out of the undead. Though my write up took longer to get to with everything crazy going on in the world, here is what I thought about my time crawling through the dungeons of Operencia: The Stolen Sun.
The game opens up to a small, dockside area as you take control of the current king in power. This serves as your tutorial, teaching you the very basics you will need to know to survive all that dwells in Operencia. Once this prologue of sorts ends, you will begin as your own character. There are several classes and basic appearances to pick from. I did a bit of research on the classes prior to starting and opted to be a mage, as they get some of the most powerful attacks that of an area of effect, striking multiple enemies at once. I had read that the mage you get to join party later in the game was primarily a healer, so I figured making myself an attack heavy one would be a good call. The trade off, however, is that early on the character can be a bit defenseless, taking massive damage and not dealing much physical damage in return. As standard in RPGs, you have a variety of stats to help balance out the desired build you are going for. As a mage, most of my points go towards my Intelligence stat, which boosts my critical hits but more importantly, my energy. Energy is used to use abilities, which a mage relies on quite heavily. There is also Strength, Agility, Wisdom, and Vigor stats, which all play their part in making your team more compatible.
As is also the norm, you can come across lots of loot in your journey, which also can have a major impact on your party’s performance. Some of these items are tailored to a specific build, with stat level minimums being required to use them. A bad ass staff would no doubt require more intelligence, as it is tailored to my mage, where as a two handed axe would most likely call for a high strength stat. It is great to divert from the obvious path and find treasure that actually feels rewarding, as well as fast travel to prior locations with new items or companions to explore secret nooks and crannies with more unseen treasures. Exploring every inch of a map is also a good way to test out who is best fit for your party while taking on some lower level enemies.
There are six companions that will join you to aid in your quest to return the sun back to the sky. Your active party can consist of only four members at a time, so with yourself in mind, only three of the six will be with you at any given time. Your first partner is Jóska, who is an admitted thief and smart ass. He is a great bit of sarcastic comedic relief, and a reliable sword on the battlefield. I used him the entire time. You are eventually joined by the ranks of Mezey, a naïve but determined bannermen of the king. He too never left my party once joining, serving both as a taunting tank and a supporter via healing and energy restoration. You will come across Kela and Sebastian, differing warriors, the former of which is better up close with the latter being a ranged attacker. Then comes Kampó and Csilla. I never got around to using Kampó, but Csilla, a star in human form, was the aforementioned healer mage. She became helpful in critical situations, keeping the others healthy in and out of battles. Speaking of which, while eventually repetitive, battles were a lot of fun. Once you understand how the front facing but not FPS dungeon crawler works, it becomes a little easier to become invested in its world. Chaining attacks and setting things in motion work like a charm once you know what you could do with abilities, but later on in the game it begins to feel like you are repeating these actions over and over again. I started doing the same moves in the same order because it WORKED. But I think this can be said of most turn based RPGs, hell, in Pokemon or Final Fantasy, you probably repeat the good moves right?
This is where the world and lore step up to do their part. Another reason why I chose to pursue reviewing this title was to see what Hungarian mythology looked like in a video game. My wife is all about her Hungarian roots, so it’s only natural I would be intrigued to say the least. We looked up words and terms a lot throughout the beginning when we could easily spot words that were foreign to us. It was a fun primer to get into the game. I really loved the level design here. It looks good in both docked and handheld settings, and really gives a strong fantasy feel. As does the music, which keeps the mood right in almost every instance. The voice overs are strongly hit or miss. I did not mind my character or Jóska, but when others like Kampó or Kela spoke, it was a massive difference in quality and effect. With that said, it was still neat to hear these characters interact with each other at campsites, which allow you to save as well as rest back to full stats, assuming you have firewood to do so (resting only, saves are unlimited.) Also at the campsites is Elia, an additional party member who serves as a shop keep. A mysterious old woman with an even more mysterious “empty bag” that produces items for sale, she seeks to aid the party on their quest.
This port on the Switch runs very solid, and looks mostly good. Frames dip noticeably when docked, and enemy textures can be grainy when battling in handheld mode, but nothing is really derivative of the core gameplay. It all works as well as it needs to. Lighting in certain environments is pretty impressive too, even when all the supporting textures may not be. There are also some neat puzzles that add a bit of visual splendor here and there throughout the story. While there isn’t an insane amount of variety in enemy design, it got the job done, with bosses being obviously more visually impressive.
I think Operencia is a solid, quality entry in the genre. It’s a bit more linear than your usual RPG, but the dungeon crawling factor is what drives that. I did not mind this, but actually appreciated it. It gets me to the point and action, no side fetch quests to drive the gameplay up 50 hours or more. Though possibly not for everyone, especially those who would not appreciate its roots, I think Operencia has a fitting home on Switch. The perspective fits well in handheld, but it is still RPG enough to enjoy on the big screen as well. If you fancy yet another quest to save the world, as gamers have done time and time again, Operencia good be a good change of pace from the usual RPG.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 8/10
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