Raji: An Ancient Epic is an action-adventure game from Nodding Heads Games. The Indie studio is based in Pune, India and this title is their very first game. The game takes place in Ancient India and has a goal of informing players on Indian culture and lore. During last month’s Nintendo Indie World Showcase the title was revealed as a timed exclusive for the Nintendo Switch.
In Search Of A Loved One
In Raji: An Ancient Epic players will take control of Raji who is the game’s main protagonist. Raji is a carnival performer alongside her younger brother Golu. On the day of the feast of Rakhsha Bandhan, Gadasura demons raid the carnival, and abuct Golu. Noticing Raji’s desire to save her brother, the Goddess Durga blesses Raji with a legendary trident created by lord Shiva. With guidance from Durga and Vishnu, Raji embarks on a pilgrimage to rescue Golu and stop the demon leader Mahabalasura.
Acrobat Turned Warrior
The gameplay of Raji: An Ancient Epic consists of platforming, combat, and light puzzle-solving. Due to her background as an acrobat, Raji can move in ways similar to a gymnast. She can climb walls, grasp ledges, and jump from one platform to another. I did find platforming between pillars a little tricky at first, and misjudged some jumps due to depth perception. However, the developers remedied this by making Raji extend her arm when she’s parallel between poles.
The combat was a little frustrating in the beginning mainly due to Raji’s starting weapon, the Trishul. While it’s an effective weapon, the Trishul lacks any defensive capabilities. As a result, I had a little trouble against the quicker and more aggressive enemies that show up mid-game. That all changed when I unlocked the game’s other weapons, all of which enabled me to strategically tackle different enemies. For example, once Raji finds the mythical bow Sharanga she will be able to deal with demons from a safe distance.
I will say that once I unlocked Vishnu’s sword and shield: Nandaka and Srivatsa, the game felt a tad too easy. Once Raji obtains Nandaka and Srivatsa she is able to finally block attacks and can even throw her shield to attack multiple enemies from a distance. Raji’s weapons are also assisted by either lightning, fire, or ice elements. These elements get stronger by collecting orbs that can be assigned to the elements ability tree. Once maxed out the elements are strong, honestly to the point of being over powered. The Ice element is the biggest culprit of this, being able to freeze enemies solid while simultaneously dealing damage.
Presenting A Culture
The presentation in Raji: An Ancient Epic, displays and captures the essence of Indian culture. Even the way the game presents it’s cut-scenes pays tribute to an age old way of story telling known as Shadow Play, which uses flat puppets placed between a light source and a thin sheet of paper. Even the game’s music uses authentic Indian instruments such as the Pungi, the Chenda, and many others. The game also boasts some good visuals and an impressive art style. Raji will travel across vast deserts, explore ancient temples, and visit gorgeous Indian cities.
I will say that Raji’s character model does look a little rough when the camera zooms in on her. This is rarely a problem however, since the camera remains zoomed out most of the adventure. Even though the presentation is still solid in the Switch’s handheld mode, the graphical quality takes a hit. Players should play in docked mode to get the best representation of the game’s visuals.
The greatest strength of Raji: An Ancient Epic is how it deeply it’s rooted in Indian Mythology. Everything from the games weapons to it’s deities are actual pieces of Indian lore. I’ve learned so much about ancient Indian stories, and its because of how well the game explains Indian folklore. The game contains murals that beautifully illustrates the tales of Indian heroes, all of which feature narration by Vishnu. The game educates players about benevolent beings like Adi Parashakti: the supreme being and creator of the universe. In contrast, the game tells stories of fighters like Virabhadra: the fierce warrior born from a lock of the lord Shiva’s hair.
Raji: An Ancient Epic is an impressive first outing from Nodding Head Games. With it’s creation the team created a piece of playable art that informs and educates others about Indian Mythology. Given how small the development team was for the title, I applaud the finished product they were able to create. Even though the game ends on an abrupt cliffhanger, my investment in Raji’s journey can be resolved in a sequel.
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