Undertale struck a chord with gamers ever since its release in 2015. It masqueraded as an RPG, but at its core, it was an adventure game where players’ choices affected the story. Players could opt to interact with monsters nonviolently through dialogue and spare them, rather than engaging in traditional combat.
It inspired a new wave of indie developers who aspired to craft similar adventures that would subvert expectations and emphasize emotional resonance. Writing in indie adventure games became both witty and emotional, often breaking the fourth wall, and creating a strong connection between players and the characters.
Titles like LISA, Omori, and Smile For Me stand out as notable examples of indie adventure games in this new wave, delving into themes of complex morals, philosophical ideas, and interpersonal concepts that emerged from the shadows. What can gamers expect from this offbeat and unique RPG? Find out in this Virgo Versus The Zodiac review!
Virgo Versus The Zodiac
Publisher: Serenity Forge
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
Release Date: August 23, 2023
Price: $19.99 USD
Virgo Versus The Zodiac is set in a world where each astrological sign has a physical avatar with its own personality and powers. The astrological realm is unraveling, its threads twisted by destiny. The virtuous have turned vile, the benevolent now bask in the glow of malefic intentions. A once-orderly universe has tumbled into disarray, and a shadowy veil shrouds the heavens.
Virgo embarks on an odyssey, a pilgrimage to confront the corrupted incarnations of her celestial kin. The odds may be insurmountable, the task Herculean, but Virgo’s determination and pride burn brighter than the constellations themselves.
As Virgo’s quest unfurls, the path she walks becomes a tightrope stretched between virtue and extremism. Players guide her steps, forging her destiny with each moral crossroads she faces. The weight of these decisions molds her character, for the line between righteousness and fanaticism can blur like wisps of cosmic fog.
The choices players make as Virgo’s character influences her growth and development. Depending on the alignment players steer her towards, Virgo’s beliefs and actions evolve, leading to multiple possible character arcs and endings.
Players’ decisions influence whether Virgo remains righteous or embraces more extreme methods to achieve her goals. These choices have a significant impact on the story’s progression, Virgo’s character development, and one of the multiple endings.
The game’s narrative delves into themes of morality, identity, the consequences of choices, and the delicate balance between order and chaos. Virgo’s interactions with the other Zodiac signs provide opportunities for players to explore these themes through her relationships, discussions, and decisions… and more discussions.
The story takes an unconventional route, propelled by witty and naturalistic dialogue. Virgo Versus The Zodiac casts a quirky ensemble of characters, surreal situations inspired by Alice in Wonderland, and clever conversations that infuse a sense of lightheartedness into the otherwise weighty themes. This fusion of humor and profundity creates the game’s distinctive flavor.
While the narrative delves into captivating themes and intricate character dynamics, at times, the pacing grinds to an absolute halt. Moments of high-octane action are juxtaposed with extensive stretches focused on character growth and exposition, which seem to stretch out for what feels like an eternity.
Occasionally, an overwhelming sense of foreboding envelops players upon entering new areas. The dread arises from the impending task of scrutinizing and parsing through hours of flavor text. Gradually, the ceaseless reading becomes like a droning background noise, as characters grapple with their inner demons and strive to surmount their trials.
Virgo Versus The Zodiac employs a conventional turn-based battle system that integrates elements reminiscent of Paper Mario, including button inputs and introduces light strategic aspects. The timing windows for executing attacks and performing blocks exhibit varying degrees of leniency, often proving unforgiving, even in the standard mode.
A vital factor in securing victory lies in understanding the adversaries’ vulnerabilities, yet initially, success largely hinges on trial and error when deciphering the attributes and characteristics of each weapon. Moreover, character progression adheres to an inflexible structure. This is exacerbated by the fact that every battle within the game adheres to predetermined designs.
This issue is pronounced during encounters with bosses, who have a tendency to isolate Virgo from her companions. These confrontations can devolve into unbearably challenging and inequitable situations for the unprepared. The spikes in difficulty lead to tedious cycles of grinding and enduring extensive dialogues upon repeated attempts.
In addition to its combat, the game integrates puzzle-solving elements. These puzzles demand players to wield Virgo’s abilities in innovative ways to advance. Among Virgo’s capabilities are jumping, switch activation, and, who knows, perhaps even pilfering a few cookies. The puzzles break up the pace and offer players moments where the experience takes on some adventure game characteristics.
Delving into exploration and engaging with characters, unearthing hidden truths, and making choices that reverberate through the narrative all play roles in molding Virgo’s character development and alignment. Sometimes there are some amusing sequences like the shootem-up mini-game that helps diversify the gameplay.
The music of Virgo Versus The Zodiac spans a wide array of genres and styles, tailored to align with the game’s diverse settings, characters, and themes. It seamlessly shifts between ambient tracks, perfect for exploration, intense compositions for battles, and emotive pieces that punctuate key story moments.
The game embraces unconventional, synth-driven soundscapes that artfully blend electronic and orchestral elements. This fusion yields a distinct and lasting atmosphere that seamlessly intertwines with the game’s world. The incorporation of offbeat rhythms and unanticipated musical choices aptly captures the essence of the game’s unconventional narrative and dynamic characters.
Of all the creative choices in Virgo Versus The Zodiac, it is the visuals that fail to impress. Most of the design choices, no matter how frustrating or disappointing could have been overlooked if the graphics were as interesting as its story and writing.
As expected, Virgo Versus The Zodiac relies extensively on pixel art. Disappointingly, the style appears amateurish and lacks visual flair, characterized by limited animations. To compound matters, the artists make the unfortunate choice of melding pixel art with HD-drawn assets, resulting in a jarring clash of visual elements that prove to be an eyesore.
Regrettably, even the HD art fails to impress. Instances of haphazard anatomy, lackluster hair depictions, poorly rendered clothing, and uninspired designs are apparent. Additionally, the chosen fonts do not align with the game’s style and tone. Improved art and presentation could have potentially elevated Virgo Versus The Zodiac above its less impressive aspects.
Virgo Versus The Zodiac possesses several strengths, yet it is hindered by questionable design choices and unappealing art. Among its various design decisions, the most glaring issue is the absence of a new game plus feature.
Considering the game’s emphasis on flexible character development and multiple endings, the necessity to start from scratch each time poses a significant inconvenience. This results in rendering the pursuit of alternate endings an intense burden and not worth the time and effort.
Virgo Versus The Zodiac was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a code provided by Serenity Forge. Additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy can be found here. Virgo Versus The Zodiac is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.