I’ve always loved RPGs and growing up, I had plenty of amazing titles to pick from. Consequently, I’m a bit picky whenever I start a new experience in this genre. I adore modern open-world adaptations of classic tropes. However, you can’t beat a retro approach. Therefore, when Book Quest came to my attention, I snaffled it up.
Developed by Nerd Games and Eastasiasoft Limited and published by the latter, this is a retro top-down RPG. It takes influence from the best the genre has to offer and will thrill nostalgia hunters. Subsequently, I instantly fell for its charms and its kitsch ways. Moreover, I adored its simple story, but I appreciate its lack of complexity won’t appease everyone. Though I’m biased, I must remain professional. As such, I’ll start to dissect the pros and cons of this colourful game.
Book Quest tells a classic story.
80s and 90s games are renowned for their absurdities. Accordingly, their stories, characters, and writing style are normally humorous and a little whacky. Luckily, Book Quest retains this style in its tongue-in-cheek, but classic story.
You control a young man who leads a quiet life. Subsequently, he yearns for adventure and to test his skills. However, he should be careful what he wishes for as his dreams become a reality. Unbeknownst to him, he allows his family spell book to be stolen whilst he raids a hidden chest. This error causes his grandfather to appear as an apparition, and so his journey begins. En route, he’ll solve problems, undertake mini-games, fight monsters, slay bosses, and eventually discover the truth.
This cliché-fuelled tale won’t surprise old-school gamers. Thanks to its witty writing and nonchalant NPCs, you’ll enjoy a classic and amusing experience. However, the text is filled with minor punctuation and spelling errors. As such, this was irritating, but it luckily didn’t affect the final product too much.
Classic mechanics and brutal bosses.
Though originality was lacking, I loved the familiar nature of the gameplay. The hero must slash bushes, collect items, and upgrade his equipment. What’s more, there is an array of puzzles to solve, enemies to slay, and secrets to discover. On top of this, there are plenty of quests to complete that progress the story nicely. As you explore the colourful pixelated world, you’ll encounter NPCs that require your help. Their tasks are rarely challenging, but they form a key part of the gameplay.
Alongside this, you must purchase and improve your equipment. The range of gear is limited, but it is essential if you wish you tackle the brutal bosses. These often overpowered abominations will drive you crazy. Their cruel ways will test your resolve as you die repeatedly. It’s not quite on the Soulsborne level, but it’s tough, nonetheless. As you overcome each one, you’ll visit a new area filled with obstacles and fresh foes. This repetitive approach is the gameplay loop and one that is familiar in all retro titles.
Finally, you’ll enjoy a plethora of mini-games. These simple tasks are poorly explained but fun to complete. Sadly, though, they won’t test you like the combat element, and this may frustrate some players. However, I enjoyed the break from the normal tropes, fighting, and quests.
Book Quest is a vivid pixelated dream.
Book Quest has done wonderfully to produce a modern but pixelated title. Its vivid colour palette, interesting and detailed sprites, and varied landscapes are amazing. What’s more, the text is easy to read and the level designs are complex enough to challenge you. Furthermore, it is filled with retro vibes and reminded me of Zelda. This is high praise, indeed, but credit where credit is due, and I loved how Book Quest is presented.
Disappointingly, though, the excellent finish was undone by a frame rate issue. Whenever a boss battle occurred, the action would slow to a nauseating crawl. As a consequence, this made it much tougher to play and uncomfortable to look at. Without this problem, the game would be amazing. As it is, this will tarnish the experience and will turn many gamers off.
The audio was flawed as well. When it worked, it was fantastic. Yet, it randomly stopped for no reason, and this caused massive gaps of silence. This wouldn’t be so bad, but the dramatic audio enhances the gameplay perfectly. Subsequently, when it was missing, the action was flat and lacked energy. What’s more, the sound effects weren’t varied enough. Therefore, most enemies used the same sound bites, and this was frustrating. Accordingly, the developers needed to be more experimental as this would have improved things without a doubt.
Sluggish controls and weird hitboxes.
When a game relies on simple combat mechanics, you don’t expect any problems. Yet, Book Quest has sluggish controls and poor hitboxes. Therefore, it was unfairly difficult when the action was hectic. This was more apparent when tackling each boss. Instead of an enjoyable and challenging experience, you died repeatedly because of the poor controls. As a result, it was unnecessarily frustrating and this will discourage many gamers.
Because of its tough elements, there is some longevity. What’s more, the puzzles and mini-games add a degree of difficulty. Yet, once you complete this, there is little reason to return. Luckily, though, if you can overlook the niggling problems and brutal ways, you’ll enjoy your first playthrough. Consequently, it is good value for money even if it makes you scream.
Book Quest is good but is unnecessarily flawed.
Though I enjoyed Book Quest, it is unnecessarily flawed. As a consequence, it doesn’t reach its full potential and will put off would-be gamers. The bosses are unfairly difficult; the text is poorly proofread, and the frame rate issue is unforgivable. However, many of these problems can be patched and this will leave a thoroughly enjoyable title. Once the faults are rectified, I recommend you to buy it here! Will you recover your stolen spell book? Explore, solve problems, buy new gear, and tackle your foes.