Raji: An Ancient Epic is a game from indie developers Nodding Head that draws inspiration from hit games such as the original God of War, Prince of Persia, and dare to say, Tomb Raider. I’ll explain how later in this article. One thing I want to make clear is that THIS IS AN INDIE GAME! An indie game coming straight out of India, and you know me, one thing I’m big on is representation.
Being both black and Indian, I’m glad that this is happening. They’ve nailed everything down from the clothing to the music. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion, which means there’s more than one god. In Hinduism, there are literally thousands, each with their own stories of origin and what they represent.
Raji even does you the favor of introducing some of them to you and even has two of them narrating the game as you play. Two of the gods play the role of overseers for young Raji. It’s about time we’ve had a game strictly based on Indian culture. I’m not knocking other cultures here, but throughout gaming history, we’ve seen the same ones over and over again.
To have a game that opens you up to the Hindu religion and culture is vastly different from the norm, and a rather refreshing story. In RAAE, the gods are basically at war with the demons, and humans, as usual, get caught in the mix. Raji finds herself smack day in the middle when a demon kidnaps her little brother Golu. This begins her quest to save her little brother and even put an end to this war.
Nodding Head chose a very unique and interesting art style. When making this game. For the cut scenes, they chose to go with shadow puppetry but in The traditional Indian art style. The graphics aren’t anything special that’ll blow your mind, but the colors that they chose combined with the level design do put a smile on your face. It almost feels like an art book has come to life right in front of your eyes!
The other side of the graphics that’s not so great is resolution. When it’s docked, the game looks nice and bright, a little rough around the edges but overall, it’s nice. When it’s in portable mode, it starts to look a bit blurry.
There’s also the issue of framerates – it’s a little choppy. Sometimes both docked and portable, and it’s even more noticeable when there’s a lot of action on-screen. That’s when the frames start to dip, and while I don’t personally have too much of a problem with it – Others may feel it hinders gameplay to the point where you don’t want to play anymore.
The only time it gets annoying for me is in portable mode. One thing that I really enjoyed about the level designs is that there are statues and murals throughout the game that honor various gods. Another cool thing is the narrator, Vishnu would tell you a little story about them when you press the button prompt in front of it.
Here’s where things get a little hairy. You have a light attack and a heavy attack. You can string together light attacks or you can String together heavy attacks, what you can’t do is mix it up to pull off large combos for more damage, or flashy ones for that matter. It’ll just reset and start from the beginning. Given the weapons that are at Raji’s disposal, this would’ve been a great opportunity to get the player hyped even more about gameplay and actually deliver.
Instead what this game does is borrow some inspo from Prince of Persia and lets you use your surroundings to your advantage. You can scale walls and do fancy flip attacks or swing around pillars to execute AOE attacks, but that’s it!
The game oftentimes pits you against demons in a gladiator-type fashion where you have to use your wits and fight accordingly. Sometimes you won’t have a wall or pillar to help mix up your attacks. In these scenarios, you have to play smart, and sometimes do a lot of evading. You know…float like a butterfly, sting like a bee! One problem that I did come across was being stun-locked by enemies and having my butt handed to me. Going back to playing smart here – you have to look out for certain attacks and patterns and fight accordingly.
Movement in this game feels good and goes at a comfortable pace. However, having the ability to run a little faster would be a much-welcomed mechanic, and if at all possible, a future update. The platforming is a little rough around the edges but it’s not something that’ll make you want to stop in your tracks and shut off the game. The only issue I’ve had with this is the wall running in certain areas. Button inputs didn’t register and I fell to my death. This seldom happens, but it does happen.
Enemy attacks are repetitive and the patterns aren’t anything complicated- the same goes for boss fights. They appear to be epic battles at first, and while they are fun – they won’t flow your mind. Raji: An Ancient Epic is a small game that carved out a massive space for itself in the vast and deep ocean of Indies. You will be getting your money’s worth by purchasing this game. Coming to you at $25 on the Nintendo e-shop, and debuts on PC and PS4 on October 15th. Final score: 8/10