Vengeful Rites has its issues, but its Zelda-like structure will please VR adventurers. Here’s our Vengeful Rites review!
The majority of modern RPGs have a tendency to act like a helicopter parent, constantly reminding you of your next objective, pointing out save points and marking out routes on your map. Vengeful Rites eschews this approach, and after the tutorial section shoves you out of the door to go and explore the world at your own pace.
Deep Dive Interactive has reached back into the past for inspiration for its action-adventure RPG, building an experience that calls to mind titles such as the early Legend of Zelda games. This nostalgic feeling extends to the graphical style, which uses a bright and colorful palette and simplified, cartoon-style art and animation.
As expected, Vengeful Rites takes the time to explain the core mechanics before setting you off on your adventure. The player takes the role of an apprentice in some sort of magical order, with a disembodied voice putting you through your paces as you adapt to the controls and systems.
Swordplay is the primary way of attacking, and feels very satisfying. The game uses a system of attacks, parries and blocks, with enemies telegraphing their attacks to allow the player to respond with the correct block or parry. Some basic knowledge of fencing or swordplay comes in very handy, as the standard parry positions are very useful. Quick, strong swings are encouraged, but weak flailing will result in nothing more than a glancing blow that does little damage. Unfortunately, the game only recognizes sword swings, so any instinct to use a thrust will not be rewarded.
Pleasingly, there is even a left-handed mode for southpaws. There is also a bow, which similar to the sword, requires something akin to real archery skills in order to accurately hit a target. Stocks of arrows are limited, however so it’s a good idea to take time when aiming and pick your targets carefully. This is especially true since many enemies are surprisingly smart, so having a moment to devise a suitable strategy is wise.
The magic system is impressively in-depth. A medallion is visible on the back of the player’s hand, which is used as a magical focus. In deference to left-handed sword users, whichever hand is not holding the sword can be used for this purpose. There are four schools of magic; Defensive, Destruction, Restoration and Kinetic. You start out with a few basic spells, which can be upgraded and new spells are added as you travel and make new discoveries. The spells are activated using gesture controls, which involves selecting the school of magic you want, then making the correct gesture to cast it such as a turning a key gesture to use a magic shield.
This can take a few goes to get right, and annoyingly, sometimes the gestures fail to activate the spell, particularly when playing in left-handed mode. Most types of magic consume mana, which either restores slowly over time, or can be replenished using mana crystals. One exception to this is kinetic magic, which consumes no mana and can be used to move objects, which comes in extremely useful for solving puzzles and removing obstacles.
When you finally get out into the wider overworld, it is generally well-realized. Despite the simplistic graphical style, it all meshes well and feels like part of a coherent world. Movement is done through smooth locomotion by default, but the framerate generally stays steady, unless there is a lot of action on-screen at once, in which case it begins to stutter a little. One place where it misses the mark is how empty the world feels.
Apart from the monsters and other enemies, there is little that gives the world a sense of life. Villages and other settlements feel bare, with only shopkeepers there to greet you. A few more NPCs dotted around—or some birds, or sheep and chickens—would make it feel a lot more like a real place.
The empty feeling extends to the sound. The music is minimal and somewhat generic, and the sound levels are inconsistent, with some sounds—such as the river rushing near the starting area that are unnaturally loud while others feel far too quiet. The voice acting is likewise somewhat hit-or miss. The voice of the narrator who guides you through the tutorial is competent, but some other characters sound like they are trying too hard, and the sound quality is variable.
Villain Dragore, for example, has a very muffled sound quality that sounds like he is using a poor quality microphone. Not unexpected for a small company who probably had to have their voice cast record remotely, but it is one aspect that could be improved by some way in a professional recording studio.
Vengeful Rites has a light touch with the story, using a standard ‘avenge your Master’ plot hook as a starting point, but otherwise the player is left to choose their own path and make their own story and adventure. That’s where the real meat of the game lies, in exploration. There are a lot of secrets hidden across the world, and finding them is one of the great joys of the game. The overworld is not quite as expansive as, say, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but it still has enough content through its four chapters for roughly 15 hours of play, particularly if you enjoy searching every nook and cranny for hidden secrets.
Vengeful Rites Review – Final Impressions
Vengeful Rites is not a perfect game, but is a solid and engaging Action-Adventure RPG that is ideally suited for those who enjoy combat, exploration and puzzle-solving. Despite the lack of a deep narrative, there’s plenty of room for players to create their own story as they journey through the landscape.
For more on how we arrived at this rating, read our review guidelines. What did you make of our Vengeful Rites review? Let us know in the comments below!