Reverie: Sweet As Edition review – EarthBound by way of Zelda

I sought out Reverie: Sweet As Edition by Rainbite because of its more than passing resemblance to EarthBound. It’s hard to imagine anybody matching the charm of Nintendo’s underrated gem, but seeing Reverie’s dot-eyed protagonist take on innocuous forest animals with a cricket bat in a colorful suburban setting was enough to pique my interest.

Although it’s clothed in a satisfying EarthBound aesthetic, I discovered that Reverie is actually a Legend of Zelda-like, replete with dungeons that house secret doo-dads you can use to explore the world, hidden maps to help you get your bearings and hidden alcoves and mini-games to help flesh out the tiny island of Toromi.

While there’s a lot to love about Reverie (which I’ll get to in just a moment), I do have to point out that beyond the things that it borrows from seminal classics, there’s not much to the plot that draws you in. Our hero, Tai, is off to visit his grandparents on an island with a mythical past. The story goes that four brothers went fishing and one pulled the island out of the sea. For reasons unknown, the other three get jealous and drown the triumphant sibling, then find themselves cursed and trapped on the island he drug up. Also: your grandma lives there.

Apparently this is based on a Maori legend (the developer, Rainbite, is based in New Zealand), and I wonder whether I perhaps lacked the context to fully appreciate the story. However, as a game, Reverie skips along at such a pace that it doesn’t have appear to have time to explain what’s happening, and the dialog, while charming, doesn’t elaborate either. Luckily, from a mechanical perspective, Reverie is great in that it does an excellent job of covering you in a nostalgic blanket for a few hours.

As I said, Reverie is a Zelda-like in many respects, but mostly in its gameplay beats. As you travel around the small island, you must tackle six dungeons to help the cursed brothers. The screen scrolls in chunks as you reach the end of one “map” and zip to another. You break crates instead of pots to earn money, which you can then use to buy power-ups and salves. There’s a handful of mini-games, including a shmup and a Pong clone that earn you collectable feathers rather than any sort of upgraded kit. You can also find the feathers tucked away in little nooks and crannies to fill out a “feather journal” – which of course, I just had to complete.

Although it wears its inspirations on its sleeve, Reverie feels more like a jaunt than an tough, old-school adventure. Toromi Island is small in size and stature, so getting anywhere isn’t much of a slog. Enemies mostly run around waiting for you to smack them, and bosses have pretty simple patterns that keep the game going at a good clip. I actually appreciated its briskness, because in this busy day and age it felt good to make progress constantly. I got the satisfaction of empowerment that occurs when you push forward with minimal wait. Although I’m a die-hard gamer at heart, in reality I have only an hour or less to play games on any given day, so it’s wonderful to feel some sense of momentum in that short time.

Reverie: Sweet As Edition doesn’t hold up to the lofty standards of EarthBound or the Legend of Zelda, but it doesn’t really need to. It’s the best Reverie I’ve ever played, which is to say it’s a gratifying and light adventure game with a heart of gold and a cricket bat of solid, earthy oak.

Reverie: Sweet As Edition was developed by Rainbite and is available on Switch.

Disclosure statement: Review code for Reverie: Sweet As Edition was provided by Rainbite. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.