RPG Time: The Legend of Wright Review

RPG Time: The Legend of Wright is a game made by an aspiring designer who's currently a school-kid, or at least that’s the game’s premise. This is Kenta’s first-ever game, and you’re the first player.

While RPG is right there in the title, most of the gameplay in RPG Time is more like an adventure game - traversing through the pages, interacting with various objects and solving small puzzles to progress, with some platforming here and there. At times the adventure will leap out of the pages literally and otherwise, such as having a rock-em-sock-em style boxing match. A few mini-games are also present, such as Reversi and Minesweeper, though you don’t actually have to win those to continue on. One optional aspect I enjoyed was finding the hidden mini-ninjas in (almost) every page, and you can get further game commentary in this help menu. A totally optional side quest can also be played through on the over-world map, making more use of the colourful crafted style.

Nonetheless, there is still an RPG element at heart with turn based battles. Instead of choosing your moves from a command menu, you position your strikes hoping to aim for weak spots or to manipulate the environment in order to deal damage. Many points of investigation or even deaths (which require you to beat Wright awake in order to resume) do reward the player with  experience points, but since you only level up at the end of chapter, I think this actually feels somewhat meaningless. Equipment and healing food items can also be obtained as you progress, some of which you’ll need to explore to gain. While there is room to pursue optional goals, Kenta will tell you where to go and how to do anything, for most of your journey. If the game ever does leave you to figure out a problem yourself, dying will allow you to unlock a “hint” which will tell you how to progress. I found I died considerably less after the game’s initial chapter.

The narrative is two-fold, containing both Kenta’s story and the story involving the two of you playing inside an empty school room. Wright’s Legend isn’t ground-breaking or filled with any particularly meaningful character development, but the world is fun and quirky. What is charming is seeing the imagination present throughout, with Kenta making use of sudden changes in the real world, like a black out, to further flesh out segments of his game. Whenever I loaded back into the game, I’d often be presented with a small task - such as another boxing match - before I could go back to the story, which could get annoying depending how often you leave the game.

This isn’t a game designed solely for children to play; some certainly may need help through the horror section that comes with a warning, but most everything in it should be conquerable by one. They’d certainly need a decent reading level too, as the game is filled with dialogue from both the game characters and Kenta himself. While the adventure is rather linear going through the book, there are some minor choices that made an impact on my playthrough (make sure to do the tutorial first if you want to draw in the game). I could’ve avoided quite a few fights had I been less greedy. It’s not something I’d feel the need to replay anytime soon, though I kind of want to see what would happen if I ate what I was specifically told not to.

The at times almost over-stimulating style is a key element of this game. Everything is designed to look handcrafted by a child, with most of the game occurring within a notebook. Thus promptly filled with greylead illustrations brought to life with animation. Outside of the book, various “real items” are used such as a measuring tape for your life bar, a pencil sharpener to upgrade your sword, and so on. Papercraft elements are often used, looking very life-like. While the notebook would’ve likely sufficed this game, all the other elements add to the nature of the whole story.  Even the music is a carefully curated playlist from Kenta’s favourite video games. Unfortunately, this means that most of the soundtrack doesn’t stand out, as it is all designed to feel like any classic game music.

My main issue with RPG Time is the controls, especially in battle as you’re aiming a slash a certain way, and I struggled with that. Playing on the Nintendo Switch, I was relieved to find that the game has touch controls, as it made some aspects a little bit easier. Wright also moves almost painfully slow. I know that being both a Japanese developed game - and originally releasing for Xbox - that the confirm button is technically in the right spot, but on the Switch pressing “A” and ending up cancelling out of everything, got annoying. Especially when that same button can be used to continue dialogue.

Though not a lot of the time spent felt like I was really playing an RPG, I enjoyed the slightly over seven hours I spent playing. The focus of this game is largely on style, but it’s not entirely devoid of substance. It is however held back a little by some annoying controls and Kenta’s railroading. RPG Time: The Legend of Wright is nonetheless an enjoyable journey both inside and outside of the pages.