Any game developer who has been making games for a long time will end up developing a particular style. Like any other artist, they will be known for certain characteristics that make them unique. Developer Joshua Keith makes simple, retro-inspired RPGs that typically feature characters across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. His latest game, Absinthia is no exception, but it’s different from his previous games. Absinthia is a brand-new game with inspiration from the Lufia series.
The Role You Play
The main character you primarily play is Sera, an apprentice knight from Katti Town. She is the apprentice to the Halonian knight Captain Freya. They are joined in their journey by two of their friends: a thief named Jake and his partner, the wizard Thomas. The four of them make up your party for the majority of the game, and they each have their own abilities that can build off of one another. As you progress throughout the game, each character can learn combo techniques where each characters’ abilities can be made stronger with the aid of another party member.
There is a lot of depth to the plot. The main plot centers around a series of attacks on Sera’s home of Katti Town le by a villainess named Lilith. After the latest attack, Sera’s mother falls victim to a heart attack and dies. After her grandmother’s death, Sera vows to get revenge on Lilith and stop her from hurting anyone else.
The plot is a lot more complicated than it seems on the surface. When you dive in further, you uncover stories of betrayal, passion and romance, and maybe more to Lilith’s plan than what it seems.
Absinthia uses a turn-based combat system inspired by the Lufia series. You engage with enemies by encountering them on the field, giving you the option to prepare for battles or avoid them entirely. Each character takes turns engaging in combat or using items or abilities to heal or support the party. Characters have a fixed amount of magic points (unless they equip an item that raises it) and In between rounds, their magic will gradually regenerate. You also have the option of using each character’s individual defend option to regenerate magic faster.
Absinthia aims for a more casual experience not weighted down with filler. It is easy to progress through the game while maintaining full control of what you do and for how long. It is never necessary to grind or to farm for items, but it is possible to do so.
When you get close to the end of the game, there are also a handful of extra missions and quests that you can take on to pad out the game. In total, Absinthia takes roughly 9-12 hours to complete.
The soundtrack to Absinthia, courtesy of composer Jazz Stewart, does a great job of both conveying the diverse locations and the emotional scenes. While the game is short, it does manage to have plenty of locations and a good soundtrack to generate an immersive atmosphere.
The music also takes a bit of inspiration from some classic Super Nintendo RPGs. Anyone with a keen ear can hear samples of songs from Earthbound, Final Fantasy 6 and Chrono Trigger, and maybe some others that even I don’t know.
Absinthia has a more distinct and unique art style than any of Joshua Keith’s previous games. This is due largely in part to the addition of artist Rae Stilwell to Team Bewitched. The whole game has a consistent and colorful art style reminiscent of the classics of the 16-bit era. The entire game has beautiful environments and flowing animation and does a great job of making the world feel more alive. This is especially noticeable during the combat which is rich in different battle animations.
The Talking Parts
The story is one of the most crucial parts of Absinthia, and it is primarily driven by its dialog scenes. There is a broad range of feelings conveyed throughout the game, from joy to sadness, jealousy to betrayal and many others. The writing is good at giving each character a unique voice while also conveying what they need to say.
During the dialog scenes, each character is represented by an avatar that changes their expressions to represent the emotion they are conveying. The changes are often subtle, but fit to match the words they say.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
The two obvious inspirations for Absinthia are Joshua Keith’s previous game: Knight Bewitched and the Lufia games. While it does have a battle system and a world map that resembles Lufia, that is where the similarities end. You don’t get anything like the bombs or arrows to navigate dungeons, there is nothing similar to the Ancient Cave, and the soundtrack, although great, doesn’t resemble Lufia much so there is nothing like the Sinistral theme.
While it doesn’t reach the high points of a Lufia Game, it also doesn’t reach the high point of a Knight Bewitched game either. The romantic story arc which was front and center in Knight Bewitched feels rushed in Absinthia. There’s not as much character development because the game is shorter and there are more characters to focus on.
Absinthia is a great game from a very talented indie developer and I am condifent that Team Bewitched will make a lot more games in the future. I am certain that they have a bright future ahead of them and I eagerly look forward to what they make next.
Final Score: 8/10
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