Anyone who has been a gamer for the past two decades has a love affair with at least one old-school RPG. Whether it’s Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, or one of the first Zelda or Final Fantasy games, there is something unique about those retro titles that reminds us how good gaming was in its relatively early days. Wanderlust: Rebirth is a new indie release for the PC that attempts to combine the aesthetics of those nostalgic titles and combine them with updated gameplay elements.
Set in a typical high fantasy world, Wanderlust: Rebirth offers nothing new in the way of its basic premise. You are thrust into the role of the main character, with the choice of male or female across four classes (fighter, alchemist, cleric, elementalist). Typical world, and one that allows any gamer that has played an action RPG before to jump straight in.
While the storyline is nothing out of the ordinary, Wanderlust: Rebirth gets you straight into the action with a helpful and exciting tutorial. The first point you may notice that differs greatly from most retro RPGs is the lack of information told through characters. I’m sure we have all put down a game at some point that just went on and on with page after page of lengthy dialogue. You won’t find any of that crap here. Wanderlust: Rebirth simply places a sword in your hand and throws you to the bears – literally.
After the tutorial, you will have the option to play a variety of different ways. Initially, you may want to jump into single-player just to check out the action. There aren’t too many chapters to explore; however, the real guts of Wanderlust: Rebirth lie in its co-op adventuring. Players can join and host games, purchase full versions for their friends online so they can team up, and there is even an option to start gambling. As stated before, the length of the single player missions is extremely short for a typical RPG, but for $10 you get plenty of action – especially if you jump into co-op action with a buddy or two.
In an aesthetic sense, Wanderlust: Rebirth has it all. The visuals harken back to the mid-80s, with colorful sprites, expansive environments, and larger than life enemies. There is undoubted influence from early Square Enix RPGs here, but Wanderlust: Rebirth manages to avoid the common pitfalls that similar titles fall into and is able to create a unique world of its own.
The sound is similarly remarkable. Perhaps the most bothersome features of picking up action RPGs these days is the dull, imitative music. We long for the days of uplifting soundtracks such as those found in Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger. What Wanderlust: Rebirth has done is channel those classic tunes into its own enriching musical score.
Thankfully, cons are few and far between. It’s true that the programming is a bit off at times – the screen tends to flicker up and down unnecessarily during conversations – and the process of actually purchasing the game online, and then having to punch in your game code in-game, seems needlessly tedious. Then there’s the small problem of clicking on the prologue to Wanderlust: Rebirth and being linked directly to a YouTube video.
All of these things can be forgotten, however, simply because the pros far outweigh the negatives. In addition to the range of classes you can select, the fighting system in Wanderlust: Rebirth is unique and easy to pick up. Along with the thoroughly entertaining action sequences, the writing is entertaining, and the chapters – while short in content – are enough to keep you playing right through to the end. And perhaps even into some co-op action afterwards.