Title: Märchen Forest
Release Date: January 28, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Clouded Leopard Entertainment
Genre: Adventure JRPG
Those who enjoy unique indie adventure may have already played Marchen Forest: Mylne and the Forest Gift. The game’s high-quality illustrations yet, low budget 3D character models provided a sense of imagination to the player. Without overshadowing what makes this game charming, developer PrimaryOrbit was given the opportunity to return to the game for some remasted visuals and updated systems.
Marchen Forest isn’t your typical JRPG adventure. The game seems to be separated into two different adventures, but somehow it all strangely works. In the beginning, we meet Mylne, who is eager to become an apothecary like her Grandpa. Each day, she sets out on a quest to find ingredients to produce potions with varying effects. The game seems to want to hide its true colors by pretending it’s a puzzle adventure for the first two hours.
During this time, players will speak with residents, collect items, and play mini-games such as fishing. It’s all just so happy and almost out of place, as if the game wants you to feel a part of this world. Across each task, you can’t help but feel comfortable in your activities. Doing things like training a penguin for love or feeding a snake a dream potion isn’t off the table of things you can do.
However, things begin to change, and we learn about Mylne’s mother and how the Bard knows something that she doesn’t know. It turns out her Grandpa was also keeping secrets from her, so she rushes headfirst into a mysterious dungeon to find answers. Just when you thought this game couldn’t get any stranger, it turns into a turn-based RPG dungeon-crawler.
Yes, gone are the days of mindlessly fishing and hanging out with talking flowers; now we have to get serious. In the dungeon, you must travel through rooms, collect items, eat food, and explore. This overhead camera viewpoint that I felt obscured my vision at some points, but I ended up getting used to it. You can easily make your way quickly through the dungeon, but those who spend time in each room exploring will find new items.
In dungeons, Mylne has to keep track of her health and hunger. The hunger goes down over time, but you don’t really have to worry about it until you get to the second dungeon. It’s also possible to find new equipment and cook to stay alive longer. The game’s mechanics want you to take your time and not rush the dungeon crawling portion of the adventure. You’ll definitely need to grind a few levels and stock up on items if you want to make it through the final rooms.
Enemies in the game are randomly encountered. The designs of the enemies are too inspired, but the battle system definitely makes up for that. Battles take place in real-time, where you wait to take action. Players can Attack, Defend, and Evade. Enemies telegraph their actions, but it’s up to the player to time when to either evade or defend. A parry can be activated if you defend at the right time, which utilizes a special skill. It’s totally possible to go through an entire battle without taking damage, and I thought that was really cool.
Enemies become more difficult in the later parts of the game, so making sure you’re at a high level is important. Still, some dungeon puzzles require you to roam around floors for a bit, and Mylne isn’t fast, so the battles do become a bit tedious. What sucks is that you have to do them since if your level is too low, you don’t stand a chance against the game’s bosses. The grunt fights’ repetitive nature gets old quickly, and even the fanfare after the battle begs to be sped through.
The gameplay is expanded upon as you meet new characters who can teach you new skills that make fights a bit more interesting. For example, you can trade sushi for skills to add different combos to your attacks. Further, you’re able to appraise items and seek out scrolls that provide further insight into the story. Each system works together to tell a complete story, but let’s remember that this all happened seemingly out of nowhere.
This remade version takes the graphics to a new level of quality. The game retains its indie charm but adds a scoop of adorable graphics into the mix. Characters designs are all chibi, which completeness the game’s darker themes surprisingly well. I can’t say I knew why I was even on this adventure, but I had a great time experiencing it. Completion of the main story takes around 8 hours, but there are still things to do as you attempt to unlock everything the game has to offer.
Marchen Forest does whatever it wants in terms of gameplay systems and storytelling. There are surprises around every corner along with consistently evolving systems to make the experience even zanier. Its haphazard design doesn’t always work, and repetitive battles do weigh on the enjoyment, but if you’re in the mood for an adventure that can’t be put in a box, then you’ll have fun playing this.
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