When dealing with the several stages of grief, many of us look to coping mechanisms to help us pass through this difficult time. Whether that be spending time with your loved ones, indulging in media to distract from the pain, or whatever works best for your own recovery. In the case of Revita though, a new roguelike from developer BenStar and publisher Dear Villagers, handling grief involves ascending a clocktower and shooting (quite literally) the living hell out of adversaries. Do its early access ambitions provide a lot of hope for future updates? Find out in our Revita early access impressions below.
Revita is currently only available through Steam Early Access on PC.
Dealing With the Five Stages of Grief in Revita
As you likely came into this expecting, Revita’s story is fairly simple to focus on the moment-to-moment gameplay you’ll be indulged in. Regardless of that fact, the game still succeeds in leaving breadcrumbs with tidbits through conversations and enemy encounters. If you’re aware of the grief stages, you’ll immediately understand where they’re going after the first boss. While there is a fair amount here, it all feels very much like the foundation for something more (which I feel will be tackled throughout early access). That, at least to me, is quite enticing and it would be interesting to see where they develop the main kid’s story from here.
Delving Deep Into an Incredibly Flawed Clocktower
Where the story left me enticed for the game’s future though, its gameplay leaves me worried about where they’re going. While there are some interesting ideas here, it’s all bogged down by some really poor choices in how the game is balanced. For the sake of giving the team credit though, I’ll start with its redeeming qualities. The first of those is its signature mechanic: The health economy. Like many games of this style, Revita has a traditional health bar that can be brought down to the point of resetting your run. In a more unique twist though, it also acts as your currency. Whether it be to improve your current passives, acquire new ones, or straight-up gamble and hope you can score something good. It’s an interesting twist that, thanks to a fair amount of healing pickups, works fairly well in offering you consistent choices. Should you score yourself an upgrade at the cost of a heart, or would you rather play it safe and use that heart in a future fight.
Speaking of passives, Revita houses a boatload of them. I’ve played the game for a considerable amount of time and handled the current final boss. Despite that, there are still so many passives I haven’t seen and more to purchase along the way. Some of these are even rather creative and charming, helping it to stand out a bit more from the crowd. Despite the huge amount of gameplay variety these can provide though, I find that so many of them provide little impact on your current run. For example, some will provide 5-10% damage multipliers to your weapon and cause you to output more damage. This would normally be great, as building up to something like 70% could have a lasting impact. That is if your bullets didn’t deal 10 damage without upgrades. There’s no other way to increase that either, so you’re stuck with your increments being rather inconsequential throughout your runs.
Some of these passives will even oddly dampen your run potential in Revita. And before you say it, no I’m not talking about curses which are supposed to cause problems. I mean some of the perks that you can earn through sacrificing health. Two, in particular, stand out to me for this but aren’t the only outliers. One causes your bullets to be immensely affected by gravity, which should be pretty obvious as to the issues. The other causes damage to avoid your armor and go directly to your health, which alone makes no sense. These sound almost like curses that accidentally weren’t moved over and I’m sure they could be, but it’s immensely frustrating putting HP into a chest only to have that be your “reward”.
Beyond your passives though, the gameplay itself has a whole myriad of problems. For starters, your bullets don’t even travel to the end of rooms, instead disintegrating not long after firing. And I get why they did it. The game would be much too easy if you could just snipe your enemies from across the map. From my perspective though, it feels very lazy to restrict freedom from the player for the sake of artificially upping the difficulty. This is of course only amplified by a host of other issues, most prominent of which is an overly claustrophobic (and non-adjustable) field of vision.
To top it all off, even the bosses don’t feel fun after their first or second encounter. Much of their attacks can be easily telegraphed, while they also sport an obscene amount of health. This leads to many of the bosses feeling like such a slog, even once they get enraged and have much faster attacks. A game advertised as being this fast-paced shouldn’t suffer from such large moments of slowness. The regular rooms could use an increase in pace as well, though to a lesser extent than the bosses themselves.
On the bright side, Revita does salvage a fair amount of this with some large strides in both polish and accessibility. For an early access title, the game feels incredibly smooth to play and has zero issues as far as bugs go. The scope of the title likely plays a hand in this, but it’s still very nice to see nonetheless. That, plus the accessibility allows you to really tweak the game to your liking. Given this is a Dear Villagers game though, I can’t say the detail here surprises me. More accessibility is never a bad thing.
Revita’s Heavily Inspired and Stylistic Beauty
Despite its shortcomings, Revita does offer up some really stellar visuals. In fact, it’s what led me to give the title a go in the first place. Anyone who’s a big fan of 2D platformer Celeste should immediately catch the similarities. From that specific use of colors to the dash mechanic and so much more, the developer’s influences remain evermore clear. While at times it feels as though it leans into that art style a bit much, it does a fair bit to stand out and make itself unique. It’s almost like a game that takes place in the same universe, despite that being incredibly far from the truth.
While there was extensive thought put into the art direction, I found Revita’s sound design to be lacking considerably. The noises of enemies and the actions you perform are serviceable, but the current lack of audio tracks plays into the incredible repetitiveness already plaguing the game. I understand it’s only Early Access and that can change in due time, but one song for each floor can get rather annoying after the first hour. In fact, I went ahead and muted the music altogether to throw my own tunes in the background. Even just one or two more in each zone would go a mile to help diversify things.
Revita is a roguelike with a considerable amount of potential, a beautiful art style, a stellar level of polish, and solid beginnings to an overarching story. In its current state though, much of this potential feels as though it’s been squandered. A lot of the game feels incredibly repetitive and tiring to play, with some genuine frustrations garnered from time to time. While this is no doubt in part due to it being Early Access, the issues go much deeper than a lack of content. While there is a chance for Revita to truly provide something special on launch, I suggest you wait till the developer has revitalized many of its systems before forking over $15.