Title: Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling
Developer: Moonsprout Games
Release Date: May 28, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Dangen Entertainment
Genre: RPG Adventure
If you haven’t heard of the Moonsprout-developed RPG adventure Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling, you wouldn’t be the only one. This title managed to escape me after its late 2019 release on PC. Little did I know, this is perhaps one of the best RPGs I have ever played, and I’m not even ashamed to put that in the intro.
Bug Fables begins with minimal exposition as you find yourself in a world of bugs. The late Queen spent her life searching for an artifact known as The Everlasting Sapling. After she died, she passed the quest over to her daughter, who continued the search. Resources are put towards finding artifacts that lead to the whereabouts of the sapling, but the journey isn’t easy, and many bugs haven’t returned home after setting out.
Now enter our protagonists, Kabbu and Vi, two bugs who have just met and decided to team up and take on their first dungeon. On their adventure, they save a fellow bug named Leif who isn’t really from this generation, literally. Now that the team is a trio, they set off to find the artifacts and get rewarded by their kingdom.
The story is charming and full of humor thanks to the colorful cast of characters, including the NPCs you meet along the way. The build-up of events is somewhat predictable, but I don’t think the story really hides the fact that something mysterious is happening. Each interaction between the characters is full of some rather hysterical dialogue, thanks to the range of personalities with the game.
Gameplay revolves around exploring towns and dungeons, fighting monsters, and interacting with NPCs. Much of what Bug Fables offers is discovered by the player, which means talking to people and looking around every corner will reveal secret areas and new items. Taking time to investigate the surroundings or talking to a random NPC is rewarded with new journal entries or potential new quests.
The world of Bug Fables is presented in a paper-like graphical style, similar to Paper Mario. While the game capitalizes on this a bit, such as rolling up the paper to reveal the insides of a store, I don’t think the developers took full advantage of it. It was if the world was paper, but the characters didn’t realize it. Still, the game is beautiful, and the presentation makes it all the more whimsical.
Even with such an imaginative graphical style, the battles can get pretty challenging. While exploring dungeons, enemies will approach the player to initiate a fight. Battles are turn-based but require a lot of interaction from the player. Each action is followed by a quick time event where players must press a button at the right time to get the most out of the attack.
This dose of interaction keeps battles fun with an added layer of strategy. Also, certain characters are needed to cause damage to some enemies. However, this also means that if Vi is dead and an enemy is flying, well, you’re pretty much screwed until Vi is resurrected or that enemy lands. It encourages the idea that these three characters are a team, and each is needed to progress.
Another layer of strategy can be found in the other battle features, such as letting another character take an extra turn. The idea is to wipe out as many enemies in the first round as possible so that you take less damage on the opponent’s turn. Missing button presses or not taking advantage of enemy weaknesses can mean a quick game over.
Each character also brings with them their own environment skill that allows them to do things like cut grass, freeze water, or throw a boomerang. Yes, this does mean that Bug Fables features light puzzle solving, but the game never really tries to bring progression to a halt while you figure out a puzzle. However, I will say that I wished there was an option to switch to a character and auto use their ability instead of cycling through them every time. There’s also a quick travel system that is represented by underground mines. How freaking cute is that?
When it comes to the Switch release of Bug Fables, I don’t think there’s a better way to play this game. Taking this adorable adventure on the go is a no brainer, and the entire experience runs great in handheld or docked modes. There weren’t any dips in quality, and I feel like it rivals the PC version given that I can now take it on my commutes.
Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling is a game that may look like other RPGs you’ve played, but it offers an entirely unique and memorable experience. The game’s quirky cast of characters fuels this adventure for more than 50 hours, while the narrative makes it easy to stay engaged and want to see this story through until the end. Now that it’s on consoles, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be playing it.
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