Pseudoregalia Review – Inspired Distinction

    Title: Pseudoregalia
    Developer: rittzler
    Release Date: July 28, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: rittzler
    Genre: 3D Platformer, Metroidvania

It’s evident that satisfying movement is integral for a stellar platformer, but actually managing to pull that off, and with a sense of accompanying uniqueness, is quite an arduous task. Yet, we live in a seemingly never-ending golden age of indies, with creativity abound, and the rittlzer-developed metroidvania 3D platformer Pseudoregalia has achieved that aforementioned feat with impressive finesse.

Pseudoregalia is all about exploration and movement alongside dosages of combat. Loose dialogue is present, but you will be here for the gameplay. When starting, all you have is your weapon and a jump, which quickly evolves as you find increasingly valuable movement abilities. Between a swift slide that acts as a springboard for soaring past horizontal distances and an unconventional wall jump, simply moving feels splendid, with gravity and momentum at the forefront.

One of my favorite movement abilities is the side jump you can do, akin to Mario in his 3D ventures, where you can jump backward from the opposite direction of where you’re facing, enabling inherent fluidity for those who choose to utilize it. The wall jump is pretty interesting, too, since it arguably comprises the steepest learning curve. When first using it, you may find the timing and three-hit collision limit awkward and limiting, but once you nail the timing, it feels wholly natural. Plus, this is all bolstered by ever-present momentum, making each applied attempt at platforming an intrinsic delight, even during failures.

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And that leads to the difficulty; while Pseudoregalia is not painstakingly punishing, it is demanding and primarily comes across as catered to those who have grown up with the genre. 3D platforming beginners should probably look elsewhere since some feats here definitely require one to have experience with inventive experimentation within the genre. A few jumps I made made me question whether what I did was intentional. Still, I genuinely love that sensation in select games since, depending on how it’s performed, it shows how multi-faceted the platforming puzzles are for those who use the provided mechanics to their most significant advantage.

The environment also deserves emphasis for another reason: how it must be carefully examined for progress. You can interact with and jump atop objects you may not consider possible at first glance. Something Pseudoregalia does excellently is how it never holds your hand; you’re never explicitly told where to go. The level design and acquired movement skills are the sole bases of what you have to go on, making each breakthrough earned.

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Admittedly, I would have liked a radar or similarly implemented mechanic to indicate the vicinities of collectibles. You can easily skip over upgrades, which isn’t a massive deal by any means. After all, the argument can be made that the lack of telling for those elements’ locations makes finding them all the more rewarding, and I partially agree with that sentiment. Still, I think an ideal solution would be adding in a toggle-able map if you have already completed the game once, letting the fresh blind experience of it all still be required during a first playthrough. I’m not against getting lost throughout main progression; it’s just that it would be an appreciated option for optional material.

On another note, the presentation should make this game’s inspirations and intended crowd abundantly clear. The polygonal N64 and PlayStation 1-era models and environments truly depict themselves as authentic of that general time period. There’s an undeniable nostalgia to it all, even for someone like me who did not grow up during that early 3D era. The title, in its entirety, has this somewhat ethereal and eerie atmosphere that I can’t imagine being present if this throwback art style wasn’t the way it was.

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Combat is another feature, though it’s rather light compared to the richness of the platforming. The way it all works is you have a standard combo and health points, but the latter is tethered to a gauge that gradually fills as you successfully attack foes. If your health grows dangerously low, you can expend partial amounts of the gauge to heal yourself. However, this is done at a cost. The top left of the UI, near the health and gauge, shows a number between one and three that you achieve by attacking enemies enough times. The higher that number is, the more combat bonuses you receive, like increased range, but that number lowers when you heal, so there’s a risk and reward factor there.

To be candid, the combat of Pseudoregalia is its weakest point, yet it’s nowhere near enough of a detractor that you should come close to dreading it. There’s weight to the swings and stakes embedded within the ideas here, so it’s certainly enjoyable. However, it’s undeniably secondary to the platforming and doesn’t feel as fleshed out as it could have been, especially with the number of enemies you encounter. It can sometimes feel mindless, which truthfully doesn’t take away from the experience too much since the combat encounters tend to be brief, but more memorable fights or perhaps a lesser emphasis on the battles could’ve mitigated this point.

One last point worth discussing is Pseudoregalia’s absolutely legendary soundtrack. The environmental songs hit it out of the park with the atmosphere, but the track that played during the first boss battle really caught me off guard. You’re in for a treat with this one, as I don’t recall any tracks that didn’t leave a positive lasting impression. The sound design is just fantastic in general, with outstanding audio feedback for movement and combat.

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Pseudoregalia is a must-play 3D platformer. The adventure boasts a lovingly crafted world developed with a strong sense of appreciation for the genre. Even the lack of a map and limited combat systems don’t get in the way of the experience that is fueled by clever environmental puzzles and platforming sections. For a $6 asking price and plenty of hours of gameplay to look forward to, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying this unique game.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual.