Raji: An Ancient Epic is a much-needed break in the world of the mythology-based game where games revolving around Greek, Roman, or Norse have been done many times. As vast as Indian and Balinese history is, surprisingly there has not been a lot of games based on these cultures… until now.
Warning, this review may contain some spoilers.
About The Game
Raji: An Ancient Epic is an action-adventure game developed by Nodding Head Games. If you are not familiar with the game, you can watch my no-commentary game-play videos on YouTube:
But here’s a gist. The story is heavily inspired by Indian and Balinese culture and mythology. Set in ancient India, the protagonist is a young girl and circus performer, Raji. On the break of the Raksha Bandhan festival, her brother Golu along with other children get taken by a herd of demons forcing Raji to go on a quest to find him. Throughout her journey, she is blessed by many Hindu gods like Durga and Vishnu. The story is also narrated by the same gods.
Things I Liked
The gameplay may be reminiscent of early 2000 platformer games but what sets Raji: An Ancient Epic apart from just any other platform is the stunning visuals. The presentation is fantastic and is probably the most appealing part of the game.
Throughout the game, you are transported to multiple mystical locations. Each of them is unique and has an insane amount of detail.
Most of the cutscene throughout the game is shown in the form of a 2D puppet show, which in my opinion is truly unique as I have never seen something like that done before.
Like already mentioned, the story is narrated by Hindu goddess Durga and Lord Vishnu. The voice acting was fine. It could have been better for Raji herself. Throughout the game, you get to learn different stories about Hindu mythology through narration.
Aside from being a platformer, Raji: An Ancient Epic also consists of mini-puzzles. One of the puzzles requires you to solve a rotating mandala. Each mandala gives an insight into Raji’s life.
Apart from the 2D puppetry cutscene, I enjoyed the elaborate and interactive murals throughout the game. This storytelling element appears multiple times throughout the game and narrates stories like the birth of Durga, the legend of Shakti, avatars of Vishnu and Durga, and more.
The theme is completely new. I cannot recall any game which has covered Indian and Balinese history as nicely as Raji: An Ancient Epic.
Not only is it just fun, but you also get to learn about the myth too through beautiful presentation and mesmerizing storytelling.
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Things That Could Have Been Better
Combat and Controls
The combat gameplay and Raji’s movement controls could have been better. They did not feel very well polished. Sometimes during training, the game would not move forward until you angle and move your character precisely the way the game wants you to. This can be frustrating for some player and makes the game more difficult to learn.
There are many places throughout the game, the story felt a little inconsistent.
For instance, the level named “Hiranya Nagari” felt completely out of the loop. A new demon/boss was introduced which had no mention previously. It is still one of my favorite levels and I enjoyed playing it. But, the story felt a little bit confusing.
The mini-puzzles as mentioned early, as interesting as they were, didn’t contribute much to the storyline. I felt it is still a good idea to incorporate the puzzle aspect in a platformer game but maybe could have been handled better.
I’m probably nitpicking at this point but this is probably the only thing that bugged me throughout the gameplay. In the first level, “The Ruins”, you are required to break open a door by shooting the trident at the door. There is even a tutorial for the same. One would expect that this mechanism would come in handy. But this entire mechanism is used just this one time.
Raji: An Ancient Epic is a significantly short game. The entire runtime is around 5 hours. Personally, I felt the ending could have been better (no spoilers here). Even though it was open-ended which left room for a sequel, I was left wanting more when it was over.
Overall, I had fun playing this game and I would highly recommend it. With Raji: An Ancient Epic being a success, we can hope for more indie games to emerge from India letting us experience India’s beauty, rich culture, and fabulous heritage.