Tuesday, 05 April 2016 00:00

Pharaoh Rebirth+ Review

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We gamers spend a lot of time trying to define how polished a game might be.

We try to figure out how smoothly we're able to play and what's done to achieve the effect. It's like a symphony: so many instruments have to be fine-tuned and playing together in harmony in order to achieve a beautiful creation. Older genres are able to display harmony more effectively because the successes and failures of the style are available to research. Having that in mind, Pharaoh Rebirth+ is an amazing rendition of a metroidvania as it expresses well-rounded action, adventure, comedy, and items.

Controls are the key of an enjoyable experience. Responsive controls with good variety, but no confusion, strikes a happy balance that players understand instinctively. The main character has a great starting moveset, which evolves and improves as you progress. As a cursed bunny travelling through Egypt, player avatar Jonathan has his ears to attack spectacularly or transform into chains and gliders. Air combos are fun to play around with when up against tough or plentiful hostiles. Distinction is further improved by the sub weapon slot, which can be filled with a variety of items to grant your character special moves or effects. Backtracking involves a simple map that needs to be filled out with exploration. There are decent obstacles that are easy to recognize, and players will be quick to realize when they are able to access new zones on a map.

Dialogue is plentiful and is presented in a style that's reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid's communications. Information comes in short and ample chunks with a blurry picture of a helpful operator who provides advice and advancement. The operator, Jack, plays a sort of comedic duo with Jonathan. While most of their conversations are good for a chuckle or a smile, they also provide solid tips and even follow through with topics that seemed like one-off jokes. The comedy comes from a lot of deconstruction, where the characters acknowledge and call out the ridiculousness that happens around them. There are a lot of pokes toward gaming concepts as a whole.

Level design was incredibly thought out.

Besides the areas accessible with a double jump, the rest of the level is ordered chaos. Each stage branches out as a maze, with treasures being the key to unlocking other portions. Enemies and obstacles are usually arranged with challenging placements. The power of responsive controls are nicely matched up against the deadly world. When the action starts, it tends to reach peak moments of intensity. Some enemies require a careful approach with the right weapon in hand, but others will result in colorful violence.

To the delight of hoarders everywhere, there is tons of findable loot. Your inventory comes with twelve sub weapon slots, twelve main treasures, and sixty collection items. Filling out those slots is a great motivator for full stage exploration. Finding a new sub weapon always satisfies, and often gets followed with overusing that weapon due to the joy of it. Sub weapons usually have unique projectile paths that let you deal with obstacles in a new way. Collectibles either have amusing descriptions or useful bonuses; this gives a lot of personality to the mechanics themselves, which deserves applause for the writers.

That's the harmony of Pharaoh Rebirth+; along with a fitting and comfortable soundtrack, the pieces come together for a pleasant action and adventure platformer. The animations are picturesque, but aren't cluttered enough to lose viewers. Bosses feel far removed from the regular enemies and aren't simply pumped up versions of weaker foes. Numerous obstructions are available on each stage. Issues that can't be overcome with the tight controls can be dealt with by using something else found on the same stage. There's a lot of satisfaction found from how well it all works together.

There wasn't a perfect consistency throughout the entire platform experience, however; there are moments where big spikes in difficulty showed up in the form of an exceptionally tough encounter or design. A good show of skill is involved to overcome these portions. Bountiful enemies with complex or overpowering attacks might overwhelm Jonathan, or else a perfectly timed maneuver is required to avoid death. Due to how these moments exist, it's occasionally difficult for a player to realize when they've stumbled upon an area that's not accessible yet. The pace is fast enough to stop too many minutes from being wasted, but it still occurs irregularly.


The Verdict

Pharaoh Rebirth+ found a fantastic equilibrium. It distilled plenty of notable metroidvania concepts into a fun collection. The thought that went into the details and atmosphere is noticeable. Playing a cursed bunny who transverses through an Egyptian landscape is as fun as the pitch makes it sound. This isn't an indie title that's trying something new; instead, the delicacies from previous eras of explorative platformers have been compiled for our consumption. It's is a great compilation of what we love about this particular genre, and acts as a perfect introduction for those who've never played metroidvanias.

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Paris Forge

I am Paris Forge, a child of the PC age. The net has been a part of my life since surfing on Netzero dial-up at the turn of the millennium. I've begun to rely on it a bit more than I probably should, but it's a wonderful world. Writing is a huge part of my work. I have authored several articles and stories, and enjoy writing in my spare time. PC gaming is among my favorite sources of entertainment, and I find immense value in learning from an interactive environment.