Bard Rock Cafe Episode 1: The Ring of Fire
Previous Early Access Corner: Episode 1
The story of Raji: An Ancient Epic begins with the start of a new war between the demons and the gods. Seeking to avenge their defeat in the last great war from a thousand years ago, the demons have challenged the gods who humiliated them and have invaded the human realm, threatening them with extinction. Thinking that their enemies had been utterly defeated in the last great war, a thousand years ago, the humans had fallen into a false sense of security, forgetting the ways of alchemy, while enjoying the peace. Unable to defend themselves, cities and fortresses fell, leaving the humans at the mercy of the demons. Amidst the chaos, as cities and fortresses fell, and as young children were abducted from their homes, a young girl named Raji is chosen by the gods to be the sole defender of the human race.
A Story of Siblings
Experience a story of siblings. Raji and Golu are sister and brother who have been separated by the attacking demonic hordes and now find themselves in the middle of the great war.Raji has taken it upon herself to find her brother and put an end to this reckless war. However, this can only happen if she manages to break down the might and stratagem devised by the great lord of demons, Mahabalasura.
Inspired by Indian mythologies such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, and by the medieval architecture of Rajasthan, Raji: An Ancient Epic brings a refreshing new style to the action-adventure scene!Every corner of the game’s environment is drawn in the Pahari art style and combines hand-painted textures, rendered in 3D giving the Raji: An Ancient Epic a stunning and unique visual quality rarely seen in games.
Diverse weapons and powers, gifted to Raji by the gods, are at your disposal. Mastering them all will be vital to your success as the demonic hordes will skillfully adapt to each and every situation; while the Trishul may be perfect for one battle, the mighty Sharanga bow may be needed for the next.
A Universe Set in Ancient India
For the very first time, experience a game set in ancient India and infused with Hindu and Balinese mythology. You will find yourself immersed in ancient India where every corner is begging to be explored.From enchanting stories from the lore of the game to tightly packed battles against ferocious demons and bosses, ancient puzzles, massive forts and palaces, experience a sibling story who find themselves at the center of a divine war.
Warning: This review contains spoilers. You read this at your own risk.
Asuras – Half Brothers of the Hindu Gods but bascially Demons
Devas – the Hindu Gods.
Once in a while, an uncut gem arrives in the gaming market. You see this game on the Steam Store, and you’re amazed. It’s dazzling splendour, it’s the fantastic art design and its engaging story. Then you realise that this uncut gem remains an uncut gem because it has more potential. It has so much potential that if expanded with DLCs and free updates, this game can become even greater. The main strength of this game is a strong story and a solid artistic design. Its puzzles are fun, but they can be complex for a beginner at first. I failed many times having to defeat multiple bosses and it was frustrating, to say the least. Many moments kept me scratching my head on how to defeat the Asuras.
It’s a solid game, however, and I’ll try to evenly look at the positives and negatives of this game. It is a perfect game for introducing children to Indian mythology, and the strength of the narrative often lies in the mythological tales as you encounter ancient ruins and explore mythical realms. Each of them gives a balanced, simple view of Hindu Mythology. Which to be honest with you, is ripe for the triple AAA Market. It’s a shame.
The team at Raji were often short of cash, meaning one of their developers had to mortgage their houses, investors in the Indian gaming market were woeful, not wanting to invest in such an expensive game, and many investors they went too only wanted the gaming mobile market which is alive and well in India with Fornite and PUBG.
Now, seeing the success of Raji, I sincerely hope it convinces Indian game developers to stop being shy and to create more video games based on Indian mythology because there is so much that can be done here. I mean Chinese video-game companies are making games on Chinese mythology and Sony I believe is making a video game based on Sun-Wukong (A mythical creature from Journey to the West) so why can’t Indian game developers do that instead of just going for mobile gaming?
The reason is being that most children spend their entire lives in India studying. The second reason is peer and parent pressure. The third is that games are just looked at as a waste of time and effort. Hence, you have this reason in societal issues that cause problems for Indian game developers. I’m wanting Raji to become even more popular, to break this stereotype in Indian society (I know because I’ve belonged to it.) I sincerely wish that Indian game developers would make a triple AAA game on Hindu Mythology. Because there is so much potential here.
One of the main weaknesses in this game is, however, the multiple bosses you get to fight. Let’s name a few. The Demon Chieftan. Rangda. The main boss in the end. I managed to find a glitch with the Demon Chieftan and managed to destroy him. He was stuck in that position. Here is my screenshot. Then when it came to Rangda, who is inspired by Balinese Mythology as you’ll see in the design of the demons (Asuras in Hindi) the only thing I had to do was to destroy her fingers and boom. Some interesting dialogues were coming Rangda, but it didn’t work for me. Some of them felt cliched. Like say: Did Vishnu aka meddler train you?
I understood what it was trying to do. Hindu Mythology from a simple lens is good vs bad. But if you interpret it once again, it becomes very grey. Because the Asuras (Demons) and the Devas (Gods) are siblings to an extent with the Asuras being half-brothers to the Devas. Let’s put this in a nutshell: The Asuras worship the Devas, then get weapons from them, and then go and attack them. It’s quite amusing when you think about it, but there’s a lot to Hindu Mythology that if you even read it, you still wouldn’t scratch the surface. But I understood what they were going for, I would have wanted more dialogue from Rangda but it had to be very sharp. Lord Vishnu (The Balancer of the Universe) and Maa Durga (The name for Durga, a fierce Goddess is of War, Strength and Protection and combat evil that destroys purity) – provide a good direction and backstory aiming to introduce the player. They got the best dialogue lines in my opinion and I would have wanted to seen more Gods explaining their narrative.
Even the final boss I was able to defeat using the Vishnu Chakra (a final endgame weapon that bascially destroys the annoying Asuras I had to fight with.) In the Land of the Mystics, I failed 10 times. Yes. You read that right. 10 times. To defeat those lurching Asuras that spit purple and green fireballs I assume, and then to defeat the ninja style Asuras which were more highly advanced than I could defeat them. I feel disappointed here. The balance of the bosses vs defeating the normal asuras was frustrating to me. I had failed plenty of times defeating wave after wave of normal asura. Then how I ponder, was I able to defeat the bosses so easily? That’s from my perspective. The puzzles in this game were unique, and the way the camera angle works. I’m mixed. The lack of Hindi Audio was also a pain because the dialogue would have worked much better in Hindi than English in my opinion.
On the one hand, if this is a linear game as it is, it worked fine. But on the other, you can upgrade your weapons. The upgrading system didn’t work and many times, I was assigned these new weapons, there wasn’t much to work with here. However, they were fun when fighting against the asura. There needed to be more clarity on the keyboard commands because many times I was pressing Q, W, E often not knowing what I was doing. More on special attacks. Granted, that the tutorials were good, but there needs to be a training arena mode. Before you enter that specific combat area, you can and should be able to practice to get better. An option could be like: Do you want to train before entering combat? A simple yes or no answer.
On the other hand, there should be a first-person camera mode and a third camera mode as well. A screenshot filtering mode as well. I’m still mixed on the camera angles. Also, I appreciate the level design that went into the arenas you fight in. But it was all wide open circles and some squares. I’d have wanted more variety in the type of demons I had to defeat, and more hexagonal shapes. Now, moving onto combat. Combat is not that hard to figure out, it’s your use of the keyboard and the mouse. I’m again mixed. Because on the one hand, you are fighting against endless hordes of asuras. Then, one of them comes and just wipes you out. All that progress you made has gone and you start over. That is something I just didn’t like at all. On the other hand, it’s the same variety. There isn’t much combination but then again, Nodding Heads was strapped for cash, and therefore I think there were much bigger plans to make combat even more challenging. However, because of the money issue, they must have resorted to just a normal combat system that everyone can play as opposed to a good combat system that can give you more challenges. Instead, combat should have been designed in a variety of other ways: Like give us a circling ball and Raji has to keep her balance while we fight for more asuras. Make Raji fight in a game of chess. Make Rajii fight in the galaxy through a variety of other levels. What I’m saying is, the puzzles should have been wide, extensive, and the combat should have reflected that. When I was in Lord Vishnu’s city, Hiranya, there should have been more verticle style puzzles to solve, more spiraling staircases.
It may seem like I’m being too critical, but it’s because Raji has immense potential to become even better. Let’s focus on the strengths: The music of this game is good. I would have wanted more cinematic soundtracks if I’m rather honest. The mythological stories are an excellent foundation for anyone to get interested if they want to learn about Hinduism. The developers wanted to show that India’s more than the Taj Mahal, and that I applaud because India has a lot of amazing architecture that is hidden and not known, including the mythology of Hinduism (which has plenty of amazing stories that could just be a video game in by itself.) The story is strong from the start. But the ending seemed like it foreshadowed a sequel in my opinion. Maybe there wasn’t enough in the budget perhaps to extend more on the story. The puppet-style animations are brilliant, and the visual landscape is awesome. The artists behind this game were really good. Yes, this game has a lot of inspiration from Prince of Persia, Assassin Creed, and many others. But it’s a unique game and dear lord, the breath-taking beauty of this game is just amazing.
My last kind of well, request to the developers would have been to show-case how the mythical realms of the Gods have changed after Raji defeated the Gods. I would have wanted to see Shivloka (The Land of the Mystics) alive, with more NPCs around. I would have wanted to see Lord Vishnu’s bustling city. I wanted to see the Hindu Heavens and what it would have looked like.
Overall, it’s worth playing through. It has plenty of excellent moments, plenty of great story-telling moments, and it has a straight-forward story. Even if the story-writing could have been better in some places, and maybe some re-drafting could also have been needed. It does the job. Raji does what it says on the tin. I just hope the profits made encourage the developers of this amazing game to expand on this game, add in more features, and give us DLC expansion. Make this game a revolution so to say, as in, make it a revolution in the Indian Gaming Market. Because there are plenty of people out there that want a game on Indian mythology. And the developers have done an amazing job. An amazing job. It’s worth it!
[review_summary reader_ratings=”true” positives=”Excellent artistic value. Worldbuilding is easy to get into. Great for those that loves puzzles” negatives=”UI needs to be better with keyboard control presentation. Weapons could be refitted into a better system.”]