Revita is one of the latest roguelites to hit Steam Early Access, and despite there being a cavalcade of games to choose from in the genre, Revita surely stands out with a gorgeous art style and a promising gameplay hook. Its darker design, however, does clash with the gameplay and adds much frustration. Hopefully, these missteps can be fixed somewhere down the train tracks of development.
Told through some beautifully rendered cutscenes in pixel style, your character mysteriously loses his memories and awakens in a clock tower. Confused and wanting to know more, he ventures further up the tower to find answers by way of the metro system. However, each time he dies (and spoilers, he’ll die a lot) he loses a part of himself and gives something to the antagonist. That enticing intrigue is enough to keep the player moving forward. There isn’t much story, but the world-building dialogue with the characters is absolutely fantastic as it really draws you into the game.
A precise and varied twin-stick shooter
The game plays like a twin-stick shooter platformer hybrid. The rooms are randomly generated with different enemies and rewards that can spring up during a run. Each playthrough feels different as your weapon can gain different perks. For example, your bullets can linger in the air for one second or can have increased gravity, creating a curve to the firing line. There’s a lot of versatility to your hero’s standard weapon. The game runs smoothly on my mid-range PC and the controls are rock solid. One of the most important elements of a twin-stick shooter is how responsive it feels, and I’m happy to report that it feels great. It has an unconventional setup with the left bumper being the jump button, but over time, you’ll get used to it as it makes sense to not put your fingers off the sticks.
In addition, there are over 150 relics that can tweak your character’s attack style, and over 30 vanity hats to find in the Early Access version of the game. There are three different biomes to explore, and it might not sound like much, but if you consider the sheer difficulty of the game, it will last you for hours in its current state. The best speedrun at the time of writing is just over nine hours, according to the game’s official Discord threads. The developer has said that Revita will expand as the game gets updated over time.
An amazing graphical style that interferes with the gameplay
Similarly to other games of its genre like Hades and platformers like Hollow Knight, Revita oozes a dark atmosphere. The blue light from the night sky seeps into hallowed halls of the clock tower, pulling you into a dream-like environment. Whenever your character enters a train, the mood is accentuated by shadowy figures with yellow eyes. It’s a mystical sight to behold and isn’t watered down from its 16-bit like graphics; in fact, it helps the overall tone. But, this amazing art style comes at a price: the gameplay.
Problems arise with how the lighting system works in the game. Traps and hidden enemies within the grass are very hard to spot as the game makes the levels so dim. You’ll easily miss spikes as you avoid fast-paced projectiles and sometimes foes pop up out of nowhere and take away that essential heart. What would help this is a gamma system in the options menu that can tweak the brightness of the game. I also wish that your bullets would nullify the projectiles that are being sent towards you. Among the chaos, it’s sometimes hard to get away from incoming blasts, even with a resourceful dash due to the lack of space in some rooms.
Revita will kick your butt but it doesn’t have to be this hard
Revita is freaking tough. It could be the fact that I’m a games journalist, but the restriction of just having four hearts during a typical playthrough is too harsh. There is a system to reclaim hearts like Hollow Knight, in which the souls of past enemies can be used towards health, but the bar fills up too slow to be of use. To add to that, hearts are used as currency in the game, and they give you those essential upgrades that you need to beat formidable bosses later on. It feels like there’s not enough health to go around, and with the bad lighting system on stages, it will feel harder than it should be.
After you die over and over and over again, tedium starts to set in. You’ll see the same enemy types and same room structures, and most infuriatingly, you’ll hear the same music many, many times. While the OST so far accentuates that retro feel perfectly, it does stumble with a repetitive melody for its first biome. I’m tempted to go into the files of Revita and change up the music myself. Some variety within the soundtrack would be fantastic. On the other hand, it feels all worth it when you beat the immaculately designed bosses in the game. It gives you that impact that you’ve been craving for hours once you finally triumph over that big hurdle. What helps the tedium also is the variety of mods that you can add to your weapon, and they’re genuinely surprising. These bonuses can greatly change the run, if you can manage to keep your hearts relatively full. Secondary weapons can also be equipped, adding even more to the moment-to-moment gameplay.
A promising start
Despite the repetitive trappings of its genre, Revita does gradually grow with each playthrough. Through in-game currency earned from each run, you can unlock new items and bonuses that will become available to you. You can even change the aesthetics of the hub, like in Hades. You can also unlock new items by finishing various tasks like beating the first boss or jumping a certain amount of times. The developer BenStar gives you that incentive to play the fun, albeit repetitive, twin stick shooter for those rewards.
I cannot wait to play Revita when it’s fully released. It’s brimming with potential as the twin-stick shooter feels great to play, the world is absolutely enchanting, and the variety of weapon mods available will keep me grinding through the difficult levels. Just fix the problematic lack of brightness and make it slightly easier for the player to retain hearts, and this game will be a hit. It might be a bit rocky right now, but this is one train you should otherwise get on board.