By Michael Fontanini / April 9th, 2021
Revita is a roguelite platformer that just recently released in Steam Early Access. It puts you into the shoes of an unnamed child. He must ascend the ominous tower, but it will not be easy. Many enemies will stand in his path, but he can harvest souls from them. These can be used in several ways. His ultimate goal is to complete his journey and recover his lost memories along the way. What might they be? You’ll have to fight your way to the truth to find out.
The ominous tower is divided into sections, each of which culminates with a deadly boss fight. Each section is divided into a series of randomly generated levels where the goal is to blast all enemies in the room to bits. You can increase the rate at which you harvest souls from enemies via the combo system. The meter in the top-right of the screen fills if you keep killing enemies quickly enough. Fill the bar all the way and the multiplier will increase. Get hit and it goes down, and if you die, the multiplier will be reset to 1 again. Once you’ve killed them all, the elevator unlocks so you can step in to go to the next floor. Some floors will have a locked door that can be opened if you have collected a key. Sometimes, a doorway will open when the last enemy falls. It can lead to a treasure chest room or a shop where you’ll have a choice of two items to buy. Some examples are a sword item that increases your attack by a bit, or one that does the same for defense.
The basic gameplay loop is simple and fun. You can use a gamepad or keyboard/mouse controls. With the former, the right stick moves the aim cursor. In the latter case, the mouse aims. Regardless of which control scheme you use, the controls will feel a bit wonky. I imagine this is intentional to immerse you in the character a bit better, but it ends up harming the game. You can remap the controls, though the game recommends against this.
As you can see in the image above, there is a strange heart currency. That’s because a major mechanic is that you can sacrifice some of your health to buy things, or to heal yourself by half a heart at a time. The idea is to make players have interesting decisions to make. This mechanic is also used to open treasure chests. Inside will be a random item. A purple chest gives you an item, but also a surprise curse, of which there are already quite a few in the game. Some examples are, “enemies have a damaging aura around them” or, “lowered fire rate multiplier.” These can be a buff to enemies or a debuff to you. New items can be unlocked from a shop in the Memoria Station using the coins you earn from runs, allowing them to start appearing randomly in the tower.
Another opportunity to use this mechanic is in between sections of the tower. When you defeat a boss, you’ll be able to get on another tram that will take you to the next part of the tower. Inside of the train you will find the blacksmith. If you have an upgradeable item, he can make it better if you’re willing to sacrifice some of your health. This mechanic is problematic as we’ll see in a moment. It should also be noted that these items are lost when a run ends.
Revita‘s gameplay may be fun, but it is also is quite flawed in its current Early Access state. When you dive in, the game quickly becomes repetitive. One issue you’ll notice quickly is that the mechanic of sacrificing your own health to heal a small amount, open chests, or buy something in a random shop doesn’t feel very well balanced. You can hardly use this mechanic because the unforgiving gameplay forces you to conserve every heart you have, or face an earlier death. When you collect enough souls from enemies to heal yourself, you can only heal a 1/2 heart per charge, which is rather meager. On top of this, the rate at which you earn coins from each attempt at the tower is minimal. This makes progression feel very grindy and sluggish early on. You can unlock some things to make surviving easier, but that doesn’t help as much as you might expect.
The sound aspects of this game are very well done. The sound effects pop, and the soundtrack is excellent. When you’re in Memoria Station, a melancholy theme fills its halls with a somber atmosphere. When you enter the first areas of the tower, a more upbeat theme plays, fitting the action gameplay quite well. The soundtrack never really gets old either.
Revita is an interesting little roguelite with a lot of potential. In its present Early Access state, it has some significant gameplay issues that make it become repetitive and tedious fairly quickly. The punishing difficulty renders the mechanic of sacrificing your own health to gain power almost useless in many cases. However, the developer did recently announce that the next update is coming soon. The Beasts and Bees Update does not have a release date yet, but the news post said it is coming “very soon.” Hopefully, the game will improve a lot while it is in Early Access. I’ve logged about 5 hours in the tower so far, and it was a mix of fun and frustration. Revita is available on Steam Early Access for $14.99, though you may want to wait until development gets a bit further along.