Title: Reverse: 1999
Release Date: October 26, 2023
Reviewed On: Android
Genre: RPG, Gachapon, Sci-Fi
Lost in Translation: The Localization Labyrinth
Have you ever played a game that had the potential to be great if it weren’t for a single element dragging the entire experience down to an almost unplayable level? Even within the realm of mobile gaming, I can recall a few personal examples: the excessively randomized upgrades in War of the Visions, the daunting grind for character progression in Love Live! All Stars, and the overwhelming number of characters to manage in Ensemble Stars, to name a few. However, in all of those games, I could at least manage to play them for a week before frustration set in. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Reverse: 1999.
Gameplay: The Silver Lining Amidst the Script Storm
Normally, this would be the part of the review where I’d go over the back-of-the-box story summary, but I really can’t here, because this particular stumble truly happens right out of the gate. Reverse: 1999 begins with a long, long series of cutscenes, all of which immediately communicate the single biggest problem weighing this game down – the localization is atrociously bad. Almost every dialogue box contains unnatural, potentially machine-translated sentences that quickly made it difficult for me to keep track of what was supposed to be happening.
Reverse: 1999 begins with a long, long series of cutscenes, all of which immediately communicate the single biggest problem weighing this game down – the localization is atrociously bad.
This is made even more baffling by the full dub that this publisher paid for because these actors are clearly struggling against their material, being forced to read sentences that are either incomplete or do not resemble human speech. They’re doing their best to communicate their characters’ personalities, but it just can never be enough when absolutely no work was done to make them sound like real people in English.
Reverse: 1999 – A Game Lost in Time
The story, I think, follows a time-traveling Timekeeper who is able to predict upcoming “Storms,” which are supernatural events that displace those caught in them in time. We start by meeting Regulus, a young pirate captain in the sixties, and then get taken back to the twenties shortly afterward. The cutscenes, typical for a mobile game, are rendered in shiny Live2D graphics, with some 3-D particle effects over top.
as the game currently stands, the combat is enjoyable, but it’s also the only time I’m having any fun because it’s less impacted by the script that drags all of Reverse: 1999 down.
The presentation is actually solid all-around, with an art style that reminds me a little of Twisted Wonderland, eye-popping battle effects, and a gorgeous soundtrack. It all comes together into a unique, evocative aesthetic that is definitely being used to Reverse: 1999‘s advantage in the game’s aggressive marketing, and this accompanies a battle system that, while simple, is refreshingly different from the dozens of simplistic “RPGs” on the platform where characters just have two abilities on cooldowns.
In battle, you draw a hand of cards determined by your chosen party and a set pool of action points. You can spend a point in two different ways – by casting one of the card spells in order to attack, defend, buff your party, or debuff your enemies, or you can reposition one of the cards in your hand. If like cards are next to each other, they fuse into a stronger spell that costs the same single action point to cast, and this creates a satisfying scenario of moving one card in your hand to trigger a chain reaction of fusions before casting either a fully-charged attack or your character’s flashy Ultimate move.
To be blunt, the current state of the game provides enjoyable combat, but it’s the only aspect that’s enjoyable. The crippling issue is the poorly executed script, which drags down Reverse: 1999 as a whole. As a seasoned mobile gamer, this is the first game I’ve reviewed that I actively don’t want to play because I see it as a waste of potential. In its current state, unless a player solely focuses on the aesthetic appeal of gacha characters and disregards the need for them to have personalities or engage in a compelling storyline, it’s challenging to envision anyone enjoying this game long enough to keep it alive. There might be a promising time-travel story with plenty of potential ideas, but it’s hard to follow when almost every voiced line of dialogue is distractingly subpar.
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