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Rime Berta: The Hallows of Wishes Review—Mildly Competent

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Rime Berta: The Hallows of Wishes is a grid-based, turn-based strategy game that’s sort of a cross between classic RPGs, chess, and Pokemon. If this sounds fun, I’m sorry I got your hopes up. That may be too harsh … But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The player plays as a girl whose entire village has fallen ill, and who learns that there is but one solution: a tower exists that has a “Hallows”. If she reaches the top of the tower, the Hallows will grant her anything she wishes. This girl, Livia, undertakes the pilgrimage in order to wish her village well. She meets a “puppet”, a creature that appears human but is really an automaton, and it soon becomes apparent that she’ll have to fight her way to the top, which, thankfully, her new acquaintance and other puppets are willing to help her do.

This is pretty much the story until the last quarter of the game, when a bump in the narrative changes things up a bit—or pretends to, anyway, since the plot twist doesn’t materially affect her goals or the story in any way: she must reach the top. There’s no point in explaining the story more than this because, while there are some ideas in it that are worth exploring, we never actually spend any time doing that. The story is there simply to break up the monotony of battle—and it doesn’t even manage to do that well, since the story is so poorly executed.

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Players will climb the tower and navigate its floors by waging battles in which they control the puppets, each of which have a specific set of attacks and abilities, more of which attacks and abilities are unlocked for each puppet as they’re used in battle. (It’s not clear what it is—apart from downing enemies—that grants experience or improves skills.)

Once a puppet gains enough experience and attains a high enough level, players can have them evolve into a more special/specialized class. There’s also a “Fusion” feature outside of battle, which players can use to combine two puppets together in order to slightly improve one of them, but this system barely merits mention.

The exception to the above rules is a trio of special puppets, which we’ll refer to as The Powerpuff Girls, because 1) they didn’t make enough of an impression on me for their names to stick; 2) they’re artificial beings, much like the Girls; and 3) each of them is garbed in green, red, or blue. While they do level up and unlock abilities, these Powerpuff Girls will never be able to change their class. This ties into what little story there is.

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As they’re important supporting characters, the Powerpuffs have some of the best production in the game, which isn’t saying much, unfortunately. At least the sprite art used for all of the puppets in the battles is actually pretty decent, but the stages and levels themselves, as well as the UI design and cutscene artwork, are perfectly uninteresting.

Credit where it’s due: many, many developers underestimate the value of good sound effects, and Rime Berta‘s is not one of them. While the sounds could have done with a bit more oomf, they bear most of the responsibility for bringing what is an incredibly bare bones game to life.

Listening to the girls pitter patter about the battle field, or clop someone on the head, or one of the “special” puppets using their exclusive abilities is a treat. However, the one background track of music that repeats over and over quickly becomes unbearable, and the Japanese voice acting is about on par with English dubs for mid-tier Japanese games—that is to say, really not good at all.

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And the battles: relatively simple experiences, they are pretty much unremarkable. If you’ve played strategy and/or roleplaying games before, you won’t at all be surprised by what you find here. Each puppet has AP (action points) which they can spend on doing stuff, which usually amounts to a move and an action; if they have enough AP remaining at the end of their turn (as a result of foregoing their move or their action), players can also spend the remainder on reactive actions that the puppet can execute out of turn. Positioning somewhat affects whether attacks will hit, and actions can be offensive or defensive.

Battles can also rarely be frustrating. The game’s design puts 2D character sprites on a rotatable 3D background, which players can zoom in on and out of. This is fine in theory—but not always in execution. Rotation is limited to 90-degree increments around the vertical axis, and this means that terrain can sometimes get in the way of seeing and selecting points or characters on the map. I distinctly remember several occasions during which I spent minutes trying to rotate the map and position the cursor just so, so I would be able to target a particular square. It was an uncommon but irritating experience.

Rime Berta also requires grinding. That’s not by default a negative thing, but games that require grinding so often make it a grind. If there’s actually engaging gameplay, story, characters, environments, and/or lore to make players focus less on how much of a chore it is, grinding can be fun. There’s none of that pleasantry here.

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You’re going to grind if you want to advance along the path leading to the top of the tower, and especially if you want to get the most out of each of your puppets, and you won’t enjoy it. The clunky control scheme makes things worse, as it feels like something that’s a decade late. (One menu option does deserve special mention and approval, however: the speed at which animations play can be turned up or down.)

It’s not that I hated it, as it does have its moments of charm, but Rime Berta is the absolute minimum one should expect of a game in its genre. It impresses as a collection of ideas rather than a fully realized game: it feels like the generic version of itself, or of other, better games. It needed the development equivalent of a few more drafts.

That said, the game is functional (if not ideally so), the sprites are pretty, the meta-game of understanding and mastering the gameplay systems gives it a little bit of heft, and there’s some satisfaction in unlocking new abilities for the puppets. Those new to the genre, perhaps especially non-gamers or “casuals”, may get a kick out of it.

The game isn’t mediocre. It’s just underdeveloped and uninspiring. Rime Berta is a game to play when you want to do nothing else. If you’re looking for an okay game of animated sort-of chess, this may be a good fit. If not, give it a skip.

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Rime Berta: The Hallows of Wishes was reviewed on PC using a code provided by Playism. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict: 6

Good

  • Functional
  • Nice sprites
  • Relaxing
  • Metagaming offers some fun
  • Decent sound effects

Bad

  • Merely functional
  • The fun there is, is in the metagaming, when it should be everywhere
  • Minimal production values
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About

With over ten years' experience as an editor, Dimi is Niche Gamer's Managing Editor. He has indefinitely put a legal career on hold in favor of a life of video games: priorities.



3 comments
  1. The_Mad_Monarch
    The_Mad_Monarch
    March 30, 2015 at 5:07 am

    Yeah, I enjoyed the game fine enough. Though I’d only recommend it if you are out of games, and are really itching for an new RPG. Though you have better recent options like Crystal Story 2 and Alphadia Genesis Steam side.

  2. sanic
    sanic
    March 30, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    This review encapsulates my feelings of the wild arms series.

  3. Dimi Gronnings
    Dimi Gronnings
    April 1, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I tried to get it in the review, but it just was completely irrelevant, so I’ll mention it here: this game is entirely populated by female characters.