8Bit Adventures 2 - PC Review

8-Bit Adventures 2 by developer and publisher Critical GamesPC review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Something I've been pondering over recently is the amount of "retro" games that are becoming more popular again, or at least remakes or remasters of classic titles. While a lot of retro stylized games market themselves as 8-bit or 16-bit or something of the like, they aren't really, as we now have way more to work with. That doesn't stop them from being good, but it has always made me look at retro stylized games a bit funny.

Then along comes something like 8-Bit Adventures 2, a title that embodies pretty much everything I loved about old school turn based RPGs with a lot of the painful aspects phased out. A direct sequel to 8-Bit Adventures: The Forgotten Journey, but requiring no knowledge of the previous title, 8-Bit Adventures 2 has a lot to offer up in both personality and content.

While 8-Bit Adventures 2 is a direct sequel, and you do see many characters from the previous game, this sequel will provide you with enough information from the previous game to keep you up to speed. Taking place after three heroes saved the world from The Dust, one of the Heroes, the Thief, has entrusted the orphaned street kids she was taking care of to the ruler of Pheopolis. One of the children, Charlie, is working hard to live up to his idol the Thief by training to be a member of the guard. When he finds out that the Warrior has gone missing however, he takes it upon himself to sneak out and follow the Thief in order to help. Long story short, a new battle for the fate of the world is about to take place, and it will require Heroes both new and old. 

If you haven't played the first title, the three Heroes are named by the player and are colour coded for your convenience. The Warrior, The Thief, and The Mage are all in this title, but they need a little help from the younger generation. Featuring a surprisingly larger cast than you may expect from this style, as well as some interesting implemented battle mechanics and a lot of characters that actually feel like they have some substance to them, 8-Bit Adventures 2 certainly will draw you in.

As you may expect from the nature of the game, but being a retro style turn-based RPG means it draws heavily from inspiration in similar older titles. You will be exploring the world through moving around on an overworld map, with chests to find and enemy encounters to get in. Good news though! Enemy encounters aren't random! You can actually see the enemies before you get into a fight, and start a fight by touching the enemy icon. As a neat added note, enemies will not respawn unless you either leave and re-enter an area or the overworld, or ask a save point to respawn enemies. While this may not seem like a big deal at first, as someone who has spent years getting frustrated from random encounters, lack of free battles if required, and general frustration from getting into a fight when you really don't want to, the way the combat initiation is handled is really great.

Areas that you explore will be either towns or dungeons. Towns will contain all the expected amenities, such as weapon, armour, and item shops, as well as an Inn to recover at. You'll also be able to roam around the town, talking to people and potentially helping them out. Don't worry, usually you'll be rewarded quite well. One of the wonderful things about 8-Bit Adventures is the dialogue you get from random NPCs. Usually their comments are either throwing shade at traditional RPG elements, such as barging into peoples houses and breaking their pots, or genuinely intriguing banter. Dungeons tend to be on the smaller side, with a few side paths but are generally pretty straight forward. While I do like me some sprawling dungeons to explore, I will also be the first to admit how much of a slog this can make some areas. Thankfully here no dungeon overstays its welcome. While I would've liked to see some longer dungeons early game, that's more personal preference than anything else.

So, what happens in battle? Well, combat takes a sort of Final Fantasy X style, where you have three characters in battle at a time, with a turn order bar on the side telling you when your characters and the enemies move. You've got some standard combat options, such as attack, defend, item, or flee you also have special actions and a super move. Each character learns their own specialized skills as they level up and have their own unique character action. For example, let's take a look at Charlie and The Thief. Charlie can attack two random enemies at reduced damage as his personal skill, and the Thief can steal. These skills don't cost any sort of resource, so can be quite handy. The skills you learn, such as a "Cleave" skill that Charlie learns will cost resource points. 

Each character has their own unique specialty, making for a really interesting and varied party. This also bleeds over into the super move. Each character has their own unique super move that may have various effects. You build up your super bar by being attacked or attacking. The best news is that when you get more than three party members, you can swap them out on their turn for no cost. Yup, you don't need to expend a turn to replace that character with 3 HP with a reserve member at full health. This adds an interesting dynamic to fights, especially once you build up a decent size party, as you may be constantly swapping out party members.

While the game has standard equipment practices, it does take a bit of a unique approach in terms of both item usage as well as augments. For item usage, the reason I'm commenting on this is because potions are a very important resource. They heal 50% of your health for the basic potion, and are generally a very important resource between fights to heal if required. Considering enemies start hurting real bad the more the game carries on, at least if you don't spend time leveling, potions will probably be pretty important and you'll burn through a lot. Augments are unique attachments, no two the same, that you can equip to characters. For instance, you could have a 10% health increase or an immunity to poison. This means you can deck out your party for specific tactics which adds an interesting element of customization.

Speaking of interesting elements, let's talk about saving. You can save pretty much anytime you're able to walk around. Super handy for when you need to put down the game for a bit, or you only have a short time to play. Additionally, there is...well, one save point, technically, that just moves around. The save point is actually a character who reminds you to save if you haven't for a while and usually before a boss or point of no return. It may also give boss tips, and allows you to revive monsters for exp farming.

I am also pleased to announce that while the game is retro inspired, the graphics are still smoothly done, and the soundtrack is really nice. From the battle tunes to the dungeon themes are distinctly pleasant on the ears. The only real complaint I have is that sometimes the text can scroll a little too slow. While you can hold the "next" button to speed up, it also automatically moves to the next textbox when you hit the end, which can be a bit annoying.

Overall, 8-Bit Adventures 2 is a great way to have a retro style game with most of the annoying bits that oldschool RPGs tended to include. With an interesting cast of characters, dialogue that doesn't feel forced, if it is a bit corny at times, and a fluid and fun battle system, there's definitely a lot of character to 8-Bit Adventures 2. A fun game all around for both those familiar with more retro titles and those not, this title gets a solid 9 out of 10.

Score: 9 / 10


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