Review: Reverie is a glorious mix of Zelda, Earthbound, and a holiday in New Zealand
by on June 30, 2018

Reverie is an adventure game with gameplay inspired by classic 2D Legend of Zelda games and an art style inspired by Earthbound. Though it is quite short, the game is also quite charming, and I found it hard to put down. Admittedly, I am a nostalgic fan of all the games that inspired it, but I think most fans of Zelda will find something to love in Reverie.

Full Disclosure
Rainbite, the developer of Reverie, provided a review copy of the game for PlayStation Vita.

A summer vacation like any other

Reverie has a very brief setup before it sets you loose to explore an island. The game takes place on a fictional island in New Zealand. The protagonist Tai has just arrived on the island for his summer vacation to visit his grandparents. The game begins with you disembarking from a boat, saying goodbye to your mother, and meeting your grandparents.

Before long, you are given a baseball bat and a book to keep track of a feather collection, and Grandpa asks you to take a trip into the basement to retrieve an old book of his.

Of course, the basement ends up being the first dungeon.

Most of the game feels this way: you explore different regions of the island and ultimately stumble upon a dungeon that you rarely expect. The game is full of delightful surprises, so I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but Reverie made me smile repeatedly each time I realized that I was about to enter a dungeon unexpectedly.

The introduction provides a backstory in the form of folklore about four brothers and their spirits that still reside on the island. The spirits of the brothers are now causing trouble for the island, and Tai seems to just stumble into solving the problem. He never really sets out to save the island; Grandma and Grandpa just suggest that Tai explore the island to enjoy his vacation. The story is not the most compelling part of the package; Reverie is all about the gameplay.

Classic Zelda-style dungeon design

Reverie has six dungeons that follow traditional Zelda formulas. Each dungeon has a nice mix of combat and puzzle solving, a key item, and a boss battle. The dungeons themselves are well designed and have creative settings. The settings feel Earthbound-inspired more than Zelda-inspired, but once you’re inside you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Link’s Awakening.

Most of the puzzles are simple and reuse a lot of the same mechanics. You will frequently encounter floor switches, moveable blocks, levers, and targets. Even so, the designers managed to do a lot with very little. In particular, I was surprised to encounter puzzles that require that blocks be respawned repeatedly;  I have never seen something like this in The Legend of Zelda.

The dungeon items are very similar to what you would find in Zelda, but Reverie changes them to fit the theme. There is no bow and arrow; Tai uses a dart gun. Once again, Reverie surprised me with the item selection. There is one item in particular that I had a lot of fun using, but I really do not want to spoil it in this review. Zelda has never had an item quite like it, but the closest comparisons I could come up with are the Seed Shooter from Oracle of Ages and the Cane of Somaria from A Link to the Past. I realize those two items don’t seem similar to each other, but there’s not a better comparison from Zelda.

The bosses are a mix of very unique designs and monsters that feel like they were taken directly from a Zelda game. Notably, the first boss is a possessed tumble dryer and another early boss is very similar to Moldorm from A Link to the Past.

Though none of the dungeons or bosses is particularly difficult, I am satisfied with them overall. I had fun exploring them, and they surprised me.

Side quests and surprises

The overworld in Reverie has a lot more to offer than I expected. From the very beginning, you are encouraged to collect feathers to put in a special book your grandmother gave to you. Grandma promises a reward if you fill the entire book. The features are hidden across the entire map both indoors (including dungeons) and outdoors. Some of them are rewards for completing small side quests, some are hidden in plain sight, and others are tucked away in optional areas of the map that you would never visit during a normal playthrough.

One of the first feathers is found hidden under a staircase.

I went out of my way to find all the feathers, and doing so made me appreciate the game even more. None of them was particularly difficult to obtain, and it was fun to hunt them all down. By comparison, sometimes collectibles in Zelda (and a lot of other games) sometimes feel tedious and not worth the effort.

My only complaint about the feather side quest is that the reward is not very useful once you obtain it. The last feather is hidden in a special dungeon that only opens after you have beaten the final boss. Grandma’s reward is useful in combat, but by the time you have it there is literally nothing left to see in the game.

In true Zelda-fashion, the world of Reverie is also home to some very fun mini-games. I spent a lot of time playing one of them in particular — an arcade shooter that plays similarly to Galaga. The games are a fun diversion, and I was always surprised when I found one.

An adventure worth experiencing

Reverie is not a long game. My 100% playthrough only took around five hours to complete, and I would absolutely play the entire game again.

Rainbite Games has done a remarkable job of creating an experience that is fun from beginning to end. I was excited every time I sat down to play Reverie, and the world repeatedly made me smile. Reverie is a lot like many other adventure games, but its unique blend of Zelda-style gameplay and an Earthbound-inspired setting and art style makes it stand out in an otherwise crowded genre.

Score Similarity to Zelda games
8.0/10 Link’s Awakening – ▲▲▲▲△
A Link Between Worlds – ▲▲▲△△
Breath of the Wild – ▲△△△△
Joshua Lindquist
Joshua is the content director of Zelda Universe and long-time executive of Zelda Wiki who previously founded Zelda Relic. Wielding an undying passion for Zelda, he works behind-the-scenes to build collaboration in the Zelda community.