I feel like as a whole, most people are good. Or at least, they are mostly good with occasional lapses in judgment. We can all take a step back and daydream about how nice it would be just to forgo waiting in line at the grocery store and walking out with what you want, or maybe stabbing that person taking too long picking out their lotto numbers while you simply want to throw a $20 into your gas tank, or maybe just run over that pedestrian taking an eternity to cross the street. These brief moments are the very reason I am attracted to games that feature some sort of morality system, not just because it adds an additional layer of replayability, but sometimes it’s really just a lot of fun being the asshole. This was the main draw for me when it came to Hindsight 20/20: Wrath of the Raakshasa, a title that touts its morality system as a big selling point.
The game tasks you with taking on the guise of Jehan, a one-armed warrior who suffers the tragic death of his father, forsakes his homeland, and leaves the townsfolk to the mercy of the Raakshasa – some monstrous creatures that are the final stage of a sickness that is also plaguing the town. As you can assume, everyone dies, resulting in Jehan praying to their god for a chance to right his wrongs and get a mulligan of epic proportions. As you can assume, his wish is granted and you begin your journey right after your father’s passing, right before the point of no return. I won’t say that this is a terrible setup, but if you consider the pedigree that went into the title, with folks from BioWare and Sucker Punch on the development team, I was expecting a little more in terms of the narrative. I wouldn’t say that the story is boring, and I did enjoy seeing the twists and turns as my decisions unfolded around me, but when I think of these companies, I think of their heavy hitters, Mass Effect and inFamous, both of which sell the illusion of choice better than others, and this doesn’t hold a candle to either.
The game makes it extremely obvious when decisions are presented which is the good or evil choice, even more so than some of the worst offenders in the history of gaming. Unlike games such as Fable or Fallout 3, where every action you do or don’t take can have an impact on the story as it unfolds, this dumbs the morality down to the occasional choices you have to make and how you handle combat; everything else is set in stone, forcing you along the path the developers carved out for you. It rarely seems to differ outside of the how certain events play out but reach the same conclusion.
Gameplay is largely focused on combat and exploration, with the latter mainly asking you to pick up the occasional note that is clearly left out in the open that even Mr. Magoo couldn’t miss due to the ridiculous size, or you’ll need to find color-coded keycards. Many of the areas use the exploration to bookend the combat segments to try, and sadly fail, at keeping repetition at bay. Outside of switching between the non-lethal cattle prod style sword and the sharp standard blade, there isn’t much going on that screams innovation. Of course, you can dodge, block, and trade in some mana of sorts for special abilities, but mostly you can just swing your sword until everything ceases to move, walk a few feet to the next room, rinse and repeat until you reach the boss or next area. It’s a very humdrum affair that at its best just feels like it’s dated, and at its worst is a broken mess that hopefully will be patched prior to full release (review was written prior to launch). You slide around the floor between enemies like you’re on ice, get stuck mid-air in Zack Snyder-inspired slo-mo sequences for seconds at a time, suffer through missed animations, and the game forgets you are holding block throughout your opponenet’s whole combo, giving you the full damage despite it.
The boss battles across the board are the worst aspect of the game, and in some cases, some of the most annoying encounters in recent memory. The first pitted me against a hulking guard that followed the standard boss patterns we’re all accustomed to, but with the kicker being that he would often forget to take damage when he was hit, would become magnetic and pull me across the map towards him for no obvious reason, and generally push me to the point that I really wanted to just shut off my PS5 and never revisit the game after my tenth failure. I generally try to avoid going with any difficulty that has “story” in the name, but this was a situation where almost every boss required dropping it down to this option, failing my way through the battle, and then bumping it back up once moving on the next area.
The second boss wasn’t much of an improvement, as it requires you to stun them using your lone ranged ability, so you can run in close, throw out a few potshots, evade, and repeat. The problem here is the ranged attack runs off of a meter that can only be recharged by getting a chain of six or more hits… almost impossible to do against a lone enemy that remains stunned long enough to get three, maybe four hits in. This was yet another trial of my mental fortitude that had me raging by the time I slid through by the skin of my hair follicles.
As the presentation goes, there wasn’t much that thrilled me here. There are virtually no voiceovers, asking you to read most of the narrative and taking its sweet damn time getting through the slides. The human characters look like they are modeled after the knock-off Lego made by Playmobil for the kiddos who haven’t figured out not to put plastic in their mouths, and feature some of the weirdest shadows I have ever seen. Just look at the blocky dancing bits that are featured on the protagonist’s shroud within the trailer and you’ll clearly see what I am referring to. These were hit or miss from start to finish at very inconsistent points within the game. These were all things I could work with, but once the game started to fail to load, essentially forcing me to reboot back to the home screen and start anew more than once, forgoing all progress since my last checkpoint in the process, I was checked out and just waiting for the credits to roll as quickly as possible.
Hindsight 20/20: Wrath of the Raakshasa is a game that wants you to replay it again and again, aiming to get everything just right and save the world, yourself, and all the royal subjects. If you’re inclined, you can definitely do that, but it’ll be a project that requires way more patience than I have available, and quite frankly, is a more enjoyable experience when you just kill everyone yourself.
5 out of 10
- Choose Your Own Adventure Style Gameplay
- The Collectibles Are the Size of a Buick
- Buggy Combat and Loading
- Downright Annoying Boss Battles Due to Mechanics
- Choices Don’t Really Seem to Matter
Hindsight 20/20: Wrath of the Raakshasa was developed and was published by Triple-I Games. The game is available for NS, PC, PS4, PS5, X1, and XSX. The game was provided to us for review on PS4 and played on PS5. If you’d like to see more of Hindsight 20/20: Wrath of the Raakshasa, check out the official site.
Here at GBG we use a rating method that you are more than likely familiar with – a scale of 1 to 10. For clarification, we intend on using the entire scale: 1-4 is something you should probably avoid paying for; 5-7 is something that is worth playing, but probably not at full price; 8-10 is a great title that you can feel confident about buying. If you have any questions or comments about how we rate a game, please let us know.