Nodding Heads Games makes their developmental debut with this action-filled and acrobatic adventure. Medieval India has never looked so vibrant and colorful as you climb your way through a simply stunning visual experience. Obtain magical weapons, and learn elemental skills to fight dark manifestations from ancient Hindu Mythology. A once Nintendo Switch exclusive, this title has been ported to PC, thus satiating those who prefer different gaming peripherals. Raji: An Ancient Epic is an adventure worth picking up, even if the core gameplay is a little rough around the edges.
The story revolves around the title character Raji, a circus performer whose brother has been kidnapped. She sets out to save him under close watch and narration of Vishnu and Goddess Druga. They bless her with mighty weapons and magical powers to fight off the demons that took her brother, Golu. The storytelling from above keeps the player company. You definitely feel the Gods’ support and guidance when you see illuminated ledges and beacons pointing you in the right direction. This was a clever way to incorporate hints into the game without breaking the fourth wall. The entities above paired with Raji’s strong resiliency create a feel-good Shonen style story. This is easily what makes Raji: An Ancient Epic stand out amongst it’s indie developed peers. So, how does this title play and feel?
Who Is Playing Who Here?
Stiff controls can make or break a title. In this case it honestly does both. I did enjoy the platforming challenge utilizing the tight controls. Running up walls and timing jumps perfectly with little room for error added a fun challenge. This is reminiscent of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Checkpoints are frequent so you won’t get set back too far. Being able to triple jump down a long corridor, like in Super Mario 64, kept my twitch control urges occupied as I ingested the beautiful architecture and landscapes. I really didn’t find any issue with the control style in terms of movement and acrobatics. This wasn’t the case for the combat.
With a fair amount of moves, jumps, and attacks, you would expect to feel relatively free on the battlefield. In reality, some moves lock on to enemies and some do not. This results in Raji changing direction mid combo and looking a bit clueless. When another enemy is firing projectiles at you from afar while you’re stuck figuring out which target to lock on to, you will take damage. And die. Also, good luck running up walls and landing an aerial attack perfectly. A challenge is always welcome and accepted, but the mistakes should fall on the player, rather than the game. I tried switching from mouse and keyboard to a controller, but felt like I had even less control of Raji. This is a classic case of “the game is playing you” rather than the intended vice versa.
A Semi-Immersive Enviromnent
The narration from the gods above paired with the interactable murals in game teach India’s deities and religious history nicely. I was really enticed learning about all of the religious figures and customs taught through statues and puzzles that are a part of Raji’s story. This made enduring the clunky combat, to reach another platforming and explorational segment to advance the plot, worthwhile.
Raji: An Ancient Epic is a linear adventure. You are limited to climbing specific walls and jumping over only the intended gaps. Though the paths are marked properly to avoid confusion, it still felt weird. I couldn’t climb a specific wall, or jump into a certain window simply because the game told me so. Keep in mind only seven people created this title, and deadlines are no joke.
What Raji: An Ancient Epic’s most notable point to take in is the limited personnel. Of course this debut title has a few cracks in the pavement, given the circumstance, but so was my audition tape to play guitar in a garage rock band. It’s exciting to see India make moves in hopes to secure relevancy in a growing global market. Support the artists here and purchase this game, so we can hopefully experience what Nodding Heads Games can accomplish under a full-scale operation.