8 Bit Adventures 2 is a turn-based RPG developed by Critical Games AU. As retro in style, gameplay, and sound as 8 Bit Adventures 2 is, the adventure I experienced in it felt more in tune with modern linear video games. Similar to Live A Live, the focus on linearity changed what I thought would be a typical grind-y JRPG game. Into one that pushed me along its mostly fixed rails with ups, and downs and an amount of endearingly written dialogue from wonderfully unique characters to keep me comfortable between all of the stressful fights in-between. Leaving me more than satisfied looking back on the journey overall.
Developer & Publisher // Critical Games; Ratalaika Games
Platforms // Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PC, Steam Deck
MSRP & Release Date //$19.99, Oct. 17, 2017
Reviewed On // Steam Deck
A Bombastic Adventure
The story of 8 Bit Adventures 2 is one befitting of its style. It starts with the usual cast of characters from any RPG. Such as a thief, warrior, and mage who you can name. But it focuses on the journey of each character and their relationships with each other. Despite not having names, they all have their own personalities and history. Especially when it comes to characters that join the party. Such as Charlie and Emma as well as a friendly robot.
But it is not the run-of-the-mill standard RPG story they go through. It is one of mystery, heart, and thrills. A mysterious character named the Glitch was discovered by the warrior and is possessed by it. Throughout the journey, you free the warrior and have to go through multiple major threatening events together. Like a town being destroyed by possessed airships where you have to save people. Or adventuring into places that resemble parts of a computer to find a way to stop the Glitch.
One of my favorite story events was in a feudal Japan area where you learn the backstory of a terrifying samurai. You not only watch cutscenes to describe his motives but you even play as him during that section for a while. The characterization of the main cast always made me feel the tension in every threatening event. I learned what they meant to each other and seeing them having to split up at times or become lost pulled on my heartstrings. But the Glitch was just as fleshed out as everyone else. They felt like real people with distinct styles in their writing.
Wonderfully Retro Combat
The combat in 8 Bit Adventures 2 is the standard turn-based RPG style. Where you take turns attacking each other. But there are plenty of quirks in the combat. Such as each character having their own unique abilities. The warrior can change how strong his attacks are from a weak but always hitting attack, to a strong yet missable attack. Charlie can attack two enemies at once but at the cost of damage. As well as the robot being able to use abilities without the use of MP when compared to the rest of the party.
In addition to this is the “Omega Burst” gauge which functions similarly to the limit break from Final Fantasy 7. But the gauge is only usable by one party member when it is full. Meaning you have to choose what is more important to use at that time and think more strategically. This goes hand in hand with the vast enemy variety that creates countless do-or-die scenarios in each combat encounter. Like spiders causing earthquakes or rampaging bulls that deal massive damage. No matter how high my level was, every enemy was always a welcome challenge.
But with variety in enemies and how to take them down is a similar variety in bosses. Each boss has a distinct pattern and move set so as to not feel like any enemy you have fought before. For example, a wisp with a lantern you have to break before dealing damage to it. Or a Genie that at every third of his health requires you to wish to either heal the Genie or choose from two other devastating options to the party. Every boss was a major highlight with a similar variety in difficulty.
Like a worm being able to deal massive damage to the party and heal itself after stunning someone. The mechanics were not hard, but I had to fight with only two characters and it felt a little unfair upon my third retry. Due to the characters being limited in their abilities against bosses like the worm. Bosses like it are a big test of skill, but an extreme one in that regard.
The World of 8 Bit Adventures 2
One thing that never ceased to impress me was how lovingly crafted the world in 8 Bit Adventures 2 was. Every location was unique, whether that was the locations, biome, or the music within each section. It always kept changing from biome to city and was a true visual feast. But is not just a bunch of pretty and unique locales. There are hidden locations, bosses, objectives to complete and airship battles to engage in.
One such hidden location was the ruins of an old kingdom in the early game where there was a noticeable opening in a wall and I had to blindly find my way between each location to find a stash of hidden treasure. Alongside this was a mysterious person who gave me the seeds to make a bunch of money trees to lift a curse from him. Going out and using my airship to find every location to complete that objective felt like a fun break from the story.
But the airship battles are a new and refreshing tactics-style fight that I really loved in their limited debuts. You move right or left and spend your turn trying to take the other ship. But it is very challenging to stay in the right spot for maximum damage without putting yourself at risk. The world of 8 Bit Adventures 2 feels very alive and it shines near the end of the story. Where you are free to just explore and find powerful upgrades. Like a “Trio Attack” that takes three unique party members to use to cause crazy amounts of damage and made some boss battles feel trivial at the end.
I played 8 Bit Adventures 2 mostly on the Steam Deck. Where there are some issues that the developer is aware of. Such as hardware crashes, frame pacing issues, and the first transition to a battle of each game load up taking longer than it should. They are looking into a fix for these issues and have resolved the crashing issue but until the rest are resolved, please do not play this game on your Steam Deck. As the developer can not get a Steam Deck due to his region. But on PC that is another story. As the game runs pretty much flawlessly with no issues outside of a few bugs.
Like being able to move within a door frame in one level and a weird bug where after defeating the aforementioned wisp boss. When it transitioned into a cutscene, it overwrote the thief with the last character I fought as, which was the mage.
I played through the entirety of the game on the Steam Deck and really enjoyed my time with it. But the ideal experience is on the PC itself and it is not a demanding game. Even the menus are very simple but lacking in options. Such as text speed or having an “auto” function to move from one dialogue line to another without having to manually continue it. I would have loved this to be able to enjoy just reading the dialogue at a pace I liked.
Overall Thoughts on 8 Bit Adventures 2
8 Bit Adventures 2 is a very great game albeit with some balancing issues with bosses. The characters were very memorable and had lovingly written dialogue with distinct styles for everyone. As well as the Glitch being a very fleshed-out Villain. The game shines the brightest in its combat, and exploration of the varied and unique locales. As well as the challenging bosses with their contributions to the tale. It is an easy recommendation due to its classical yet thrilling journey.
8 Bit Adventures 2 is available on January 31st for $19.99 on PC, with ports to Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch planned for later this year.
Special thanks for the developer for providing the review code.