Joining the ever-popular rogue-lite style of game, RemiLore throws you into the colourful hack and slash world of Ragnoah. On booting the game up, you’re presented with an extremely long loading screen. Better mecha move.
The Lure of Lore
Our hero Remi, a normal school student, begins the game with the mundane task of sweeping a dusty library, which you get to control (better than watching, right?). On hitting a certain area, she uncovers a living book, the Grand Grimoire, Lore-Setani-Aunger-Manar-Chopar… Quick as flash, his theatrical introduction is sweep away by a ruthless Remi who off-handedly shortens his name to the much more palatable, Lore.
After Lore provides the lore, you’ll find yourself in Ragnoah, a magical land which has been taken over by mecha-monsters. Your chief quest is to simply find a way out. The back story gives way to Remi and Lore’s running commentary. Remi, as she’s quick to point out, isn’t the bookworm type, despite the stereotypical glasses look and her condescending backchat counter-punch to Lore’s arrogant boasting plays out like an anime frenemy rivalry. It’s not exactly gripping, but it is breezy and pleasant entertainment.
Progressing further introduces the eventual second playable character, the android Choux who’s hell-bent on capturing Lore for reasons unknown, initially, at least. Both characters have interesting designs and slot nicely into the world. These designs are complimented by flowing combat and movement animations, if a touch floaty.
To Be This Good Takes Sega
The visual design boasts a bold, saturated look that feels straight out of the Dreamcast era. In fact, the art direction in the first area has a distinct Skies of Arcadia or Power Stone feel in my mind. This did a lot to draw me into the early game and was aided further by the soundtrack, which again, feels like a warmer Sonic Adventure-era SEGA, the sort of tune you can hum along with, well, before the looping takes over; using the same track for each section of the level without adding a minor remix feels like a bit of missed opportunity.
On Switch specifically, the game appears to run at a locked 30fps with perhaps a sign of uneven frame-pacing, it’s hard to tell exactly what feels marginally off, but drops are very infrequent and there’s certainly not enough to ruin the feel of the combat. Performance holds up well for what’s required.
Entering a room through the translucent portal-doors, which close behind you, spawns an enemy wave that you’ll need to hack and slash your way through, and the game won’t let you leave until you’ve dispensed of all mecha-beasts within the four walls. Simple combos can be performed in an accessible system that’s both easy to learn and easy to master. While the combat doesn’t suffer for the lack of depth due to the speed and fluidity, the enemy attack and movement patterns most certainly do. Enemies feel like nothing but fodder, they are pretty cool, (to continue the SEGA comparison) reminding me of Eggman’s robots at times. Unfortunately, boss battles are equally as predictable and feel like standard enemies bumped up in size and given a giant health bar.
Remi has plenty of weapons to choose from, which are mostly repurposed domestic tools such umbrellas, ladles and sports equipment like tennis rackets. These weapons fall into several types and it’s these categories, as opposed to the weapons themselves, which form the bulk of the combat’s variety.
Magic attacks are cast in the usual MP-dependant way but make for some of the more interesting parts of your arsenal. The type of magic attack is tied to the weapon, mostly providing buffs or long range schmup-style shots, filling the screen to add a touch of chaos to proceedings. Completing your battle ensemble is a dash-dodge which is both quick and satisfying. The move can be either tapped or held to extend the length of movement, letting you escape any fix, though balanced by a cooldown bar.
Defeated baddies and breakable furniture provide in-game currency in the form of desserts. Sweet.
Lite Rogue Byte
In rogue-lite fashion, your run ends mid-act then you will begin from the opening section of that particular level. This, and the loot-style weapon system, in which you take a gamble on spending your hard-earned confectionery to spawn a random weapon, are genre mainstays. You can also spend your sweets in the menu to add to the effectiveness of boost the RNG percentage chances of better gear.
Here in lies the problem. For all its tight battle mechanics and speedy runs, the game’s biggest flaw is that it’s tied to a very base, mundane form of rogue-lite. RemiLore feels like it should have dropped its mantle and opted for structured levels with steady progression and an inventory system.
I’m a big fan of rogue-lite games and have no qualms with procedural generation, if well-designed, like how, for example, Dead Cells and, to a lesser extent, 20XX manage to blend organic layouts within balanced structure. Unfortunately, RemiLore stumbles and falls hard on this element. Levels are simple interconnected, gridded linear pathways that snake and splinter in random directions, offering nothing along the way beyond smashable boxes and objects. These boring paths lead from room to similar room. It wasn’t long before my interest had been stealth killed and I realised I was completely uninterested in what was going on.
The core combat and presentation package hide an uninspired procedural drawl which does nothing to iterate on itself as you fight though each act. The gameplay incentives are too tame, and the skills upgrades don’t have enough of an impact beyond minor stat crunching.
Creating the Fourth Wall
Here’s a top tip: don’t begin the game in co-op. The co-op mode strips the game down by removing the story elements entirely, as well as the back and forth between Remi and Lore. It evokes an unusually a lonely feeling, made weirder by the fact that you’re playing it with someone else. Worse still, you can’t choose Choux as a playable character from the beginning. The Remi colour-palette swap does little to curb the confusion as to where you are on screen at any one time and the camera doesn’t help either, allowing both players to head slightly off-screen when apart before the rubber band sets in. It can be infuriating at times in this regard, especially given it would have benefited from less freedom by simply stopping the player earlier before they reach the edge. If you intend to co-op the game, make some time before hand to fire through the single player mode first.
Overall Score: 6/10
Format: PS4, Nintendo Switch (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Developer: Pixellore Inc., REMIMORY
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 26/02/19
Review copy provided by publisher