'Brandish: The Dark Revenant' Takes Old School To A New Level

January 20, 2015

The original Brandish was a deep cut in the Super Nintendo library. Landing late in the console's life cycle, not many people got a chance to take the game's unique dungeon crawling experience for a spin. Fortunately for those RPG fans that could enjoy Brandish's unique sensibilities, it was rebuilt and re-released ... in Japan … on the PSP ... in 2009. While that might sound like a recipe for never seeing a Stateside release, XSEED Games heralded the call of fans, and brought Brandish: The Dark Revenant to the U.S. ... on the PSP ... six years later. Timing and platform aside, the game is still quite enjoyable (and playable) on some of Sony's newer platforms.

Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: XSEED Games

Nihon Falcom have been making RPGs since the early days of the genre, and has a host of classic titles like Faxanadu, Popful Mail, and the Ys series under its belt. In addition to crafting all of those other games, they also released the original Brandish on the Super Nintendo (and a handful of Japan-only consoles) way back in the mid 1990s. So, having them work on the Dark Revenant remake really brings a level of expertise to the game. With XSEED Games at the helm on the publishing side, leading the charge to bring the game to the states, Brandish is being gifted a second life in front of a ton of potential new fans.

The Dark Revenant takes place inside a massive tower in the lost civilization of Vittoria. The player assumes the role of Ares, a swordsman who awakes after a great fall into the spire. Both he and his nemesis, the mysterious hunter Dela Delon, must work their way through the numerous floors in order to escape. The gameplay is similar to classic top-down dungeon crawlers, but with a couple of twists. The L and R buttons spin the world around Ares as he battles monsters throughout the dungeons. Also, inventory management is key, as each weapon comes with a limited amount of uses. They may appear to be slight tweaks to a tried and true formula, but they really make a difference as the game unfolds. This re-release has been built from the ground up, with new graphics, new audio (although the classic 8-bit tracks are available), and new gameplay - offering a new, shorter, more challenging quest for Dela upon completion of Ares' journey. A little of the old, and a little of the new come together to make a really interesting release for action-RPG fans.

Brandish: The Dark Revenant is one of the last of a dying breed: it's a PSP game. That's right, it's technically being released for the Sony handheld that came out before the PS Vita. However, if you don't want to search for your PSP (and hope the battery still holds a charge), you can simply download the game on your Vita or PSTV, and explore the ruins of Vittoria on a modern platform.

Putting aside the novelty of playing a game that's decades old, that was updated for an antiquated platform, Brandish: The Dark Revenant is still pretty fun to play. If you like to explore, then Brandish is the perfect title for you, since each floor holds new traps and treasures for you to discover, and bigger and badder monsters for you to battle. The controls and inventory management take a little getting used to, but once you're acclimated, gameplay becomes a breeze, and searching for an exit becomes your main objective. The game may be a few years old, and the original that it's based on even older, but Brandish: The Dark Revenant hides an enjoyable game deep in the dungeons of Vittoria that both old and new fans should enjoy.