Reader Review: Brandish: The Dark Reverent (PSP)

BRANDISH_BOXFalcom is awesome!  They’re the ones responsible for games like Ys Seven, Gurumin, and Legacy of the Wizard on the NES (those are my favorites anyway).  It’s too bad that Falcom isn’t as well-known in the US, though.  But luckily, one of their classics is being remade for download on PSP thanks to XSEED.  Since my friend Leroy is a big fan of Falcom, too, I had him review Brandish: The Dark Revenant, so check it out!

Brandish: The Dark Revenant is a dungeon RPG for PSP, developed by Nihon Falcom. I’m a huge fan of Falcom, who you may know better from their flagship action RPG series, Ys. Brandish: The Dark Revenant is actually a remake of one of their early PC games, which actually saw a US release on the Super NES.

The most distinct feature of Brandish is that it controls like a first-person dungeon crawler, except that the graphics are overhead 2-D. Pressing left or right rotates the entire screen, while up and down are for forward and backward movement. In the original versions of the game, rotation was visually instant. Unprepared, it would seem as if the dungeon was wildly shifting with no rhyme or reason. It was notoriously disorienting and pushed away all but the most hardcore dungeon fans. But those that did stick with it typically came back with tales of an excellent dungeon design and devious traps and puzzles.

The PSP remake doesn’t ditch this controversial element, but it DOES smooth it out to make it far more understandable. Instead of the instant screen rotation, the rotation is actually fully animated. While the actual control method may still seem unwieldy to some, this change removes the disorienting aspect that made the original game so confusing to most players.

With that out of the way, how does the actual game hold up? Well, Brandish is still an old-school dungeon game. It’s not overly difficult, but it does expect the player to take care of themselves, use caution, conserve resources, and pay attention to clues, both written and visual. Combat is action based, but adhering to the grid-based movement, it’s not as smooth as something like Ys. Weapons have limited use, but are plentiful. Magic adds some extra fun and strategy to the mix, but is very limited at first. There are some clever puzzles (with maybe one or two that border on frustrating). Traps: this is probably one of the more irritating aspects of the game, mainly the floor traps. They are EVERYWHERE. Some dungeons floors/rooms are quite literally 75% pitfall traps. You can see some before triggering them and you can individually poke each tile to test it as you progress, but that can be tiring.

There are about forty dungeon floors and the adventure should take you around twenty hours, give or take. There’s a short bonus scenario after completing the main game that amps up the difficulty a little bit.

I really enjoyed Brandish, as a fan of old-school, more gameplay focused RPGs, it scratched a few of my personal itches. The infamous control scheme is easy to get used to given the improvement to the visual representation noted earlier, but it may still be difficult to grasp to some. Also, modern RPG fans may be further put off by the lack of hand-holding or direction and the lack of excessive story elements. This is definitely a game for fans of early dungeon crawling games.

Music is great, as expected of Falcom, and you have options of the new arrangements or the original 8-bit version. Graphics are serviceable, being a dungeon game you’ll be seeing a lot of the same scenery a lot, with some visual changes every so often (usually after boss fights). And since most people will be playing this on a Vita, it’ll look a little dated being a PSP game.


Kid Factor:

Brandish: The Dark Revenant is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Violence, Blood, Suggestive Themes, Partial Nudity, Mild Language, and Use of Tobacco.  Content wise, there is only mild fantasy violence and the main antagonist is a busty woman in very small bikini armor. The game will probably be too “old-school” for most kids though!  –Leroy Capasso

One Response to “Reader Review: Brandish: The Dark Reverent (PSP)”

  1. All Xseed is doing is the translation effort which they ( a member of their team ) cheated somebody out of getting credit for the translations.

    Brandish has an series of three games. The original was an knight while the last are about an side-character who is an antagonistic-witch. The game itself plays with the typical “Guatlet” stylistic game play but every time you turn the whole screen turns. The reason for this is because of the original hardware was limited, and they wanted to create an 3d like affect.

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