Welcome to yet another new episode of our indie game series, where we take a look at some of the indie games and see why these darlings are worth playing. As you may know already, indie games come in pretty much all shapes and sizes, come from all corners of the world, and are mostly short experiences with lots of love poured into them. Today’s game comes to us from an Indian game studio called Nodding Heads Games and is a beautiful and somewhat touching tale set in Hindu mythology. Today’s game is “Raji: An Ancient Epic.”
What Is ‘Raji: An Ancient Epic’?
“Raji: An Ancient Epic ” is a story-driven action game with hack-and-slash style combat where you play as a girl called Raji who lives happily with her younger brother Golu. One day, Mahabalisura (the king of demons) invades the land and disrupts the peace, and his rakshas (demons) kidnap Raji’s younger brother Golu, and that’s where the game begins. Raji must travel through the lands that are inspired by Rajasthan and its culture in order to save her brother and reunite with him once again. You will travel through beautiful environments, from sweeping desserts to lush forest scapes, as you fight your way across hordes of demons and monsters, all in your pursuit of saving your brother. While Raji takes it upon herself to face Mahabalisura alone, she has the blessing of the gods with her, who aid her by providing her with powerful weapons like the Trishul, Chakra, a bow and arrow, and a sword and shield. The entire experience is narrated by the Hindu deities Vishnu and Kali.
The visuals here are beautiful, with everything being drawn by hand and then rendered in 3D, which gives the world of the game and the characters a rich and authentic look. The cutscenes also play in the style of a puppet show, popular in the Rajasthan area of India, with good cinematic direction. The game is an action hack-and-slash with a narrative, sure, but it is also a 2.5D platformer at times and an isometric game at others. It shifts perspectives constantly based on the scene, and I like the implementation of the versatile camerawork here. The combat, on the other hand, is a bit sluggish but not too shabby. There are tons of different types of demons you’ll come across and fight, and each will bring unique moves to the table. There are even a handful of well-designed boss battles sprinkled throughout as well, and while I wish the combat was better, it does its job fairly well and keeps the playthrough engaging throughout. The weapons you unlock throughout are also incredibly useful and pack a punch with tons of flashy moves that are easy to pull off. For a game that is so short, the options available for combat are surprisingly good.
You’ll also be finding minor collectibles that enhance the story and indulge in minor puzzle-solving that won’t ask you to use your brain too much. The environments here also deserve special praise, as each location looks spectacular with good lighting, lots of colors, and a unique and beautiful art style backing it all up. I liked this game’s presentation and its story, and despite the combat not being the best, I still think this game is very special, especially if you consider this the studio’s first game ever. The game recently released a free patch that smooths the visuals and framerate further and adds support for the Hindi language, so you can play the entire game in its native language, the way it was meant to be played.
That’s “Raji: An Ancient Epic” in a nutshell. A beautiful narrative and action-adventure in a world we have never seen before in gaming. The developers proudly represent their culture here, and they did their best to deliver us a game that is short, sweet, and memorable despite a few problems here and there.
Should You Play ‘Raji: An Ancient Epic’?
The answer to that question is yes. Yes, you should play this game, not for its gameplay in particular. It’s fine, don’t get me wrong, but not for the game’s narrative, its presentation, or its world. The architecture of ancient India, with its giant statues of their deities and embroidered and ornate work in every frame, in combination with the art style, the presentation, and the story, makes this game something that most gamers would have never seen before. It’s straightforward and sometimes infuriating, but worth seeing through to the end.
As for the completion of the game, you’ll be done with this one in about 5-6 hours, and if you wish to unlock all of its achievements, then worry not; most of them will come naturally as you beat the game, and a handful requires you to find all the collectibles and kill a couple of demons in a very specific way. You’ll more than likely get everything naturally here, as this is a simple list that doesn’t ask too much of you. The one thing I loved most about this game was how the gods watched over Raji and narrated the entire experience to us players. They’d cheer her, bicker with each other about her chances of success or failure, and give her their blessings so she may beat Mahabalisura and reunite with Golu. I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face as I heard them, and I am not even a religious person. The developers put a lot of passion into this project and into representing their culture, which is always a win in my book.
“Raji: An Ancient Epic” is available on the PlayStation 5 and 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC for $24.99. This game may not be perfect in every department, but it is an awesome demonstration of why indie games are important and how much people can learn about different parts of the world, all thanks to these small teams of passionate developers.
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