ROLLERS OF THE REALM

PrintE-mail Written by Callum Shephard

GAME REVIEW: ROLLERS OF THE REALM / DEVELOPER: PHANTOM COMPASS / PUBLISHER: ATLUS U.S.A. INC. / PLATFORM: PC, PLAYSTATION 4, PLAYSTATION VITA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

As genres go, pinball and RPGs could not be more different from one another, with opposing sets of mechanics, environments, and even the basic idea of how a player interacts with the game. That said, Rollers of the Realm is not so much a blend as it is a pinball title with RPG elements influencing each table’s layout and the player’s objectives.

The story here is your common or garden traditional fantasy tale of a rag-tag band of heroes, a tyrant and old myths from long ago, often leaning closer to being an affectionate parody at times. While largely left in the background, it helps to give structure and a very clear sense of identity. This is also supported thanks to the ambitious design of the tables themselves, emulating RPG settings and even boss battles. Hammering each ball through obstacles, the party jumps from one table to the next, advancing through separate tiers of each environment. Bonus points, coins and advancements need to be earned by tactically bumping up and down between them. This offers a balanced risk/reward system between potentially losing then restarting, and earning a bit more moolah.

The balls themselves serve as multiple classes, each with their own edge and show just how well thought-out the tables truly were. The knight can smash through foes in seconds but is unable to advance through narrow confines, while the healer is smaller, slower but can regenerate health bars. The true genius comes down to the emphasis placed upon timing and rapid reactions on the part of the player, rather than bogging down the fast-paced pinball action with clunkier systems.

On the other hand, Rollers of the Realm suffers from obvious shortcomings with an overall sense of being very rough around the edges. The graphical quality is notably sub-par, with foes seeming as if they belong in the first Fable. This poor presentation isn’t helped by the often questionable recording quality of the voice actors and visibly up-scaled character portraits during cut scenes, lacking the fine polish expected in a released game. While the overall mechanics themselves might be solid and backed by some excellent ideas, it lacks tactical depth, often boiling down to bringing out the right ball at the right time.

Rollers of the Realm is definitely a game which lends itself better to fans of pinball than it will RPG fanatics. While hardly without its flaws, Phantom Compass’ creation is a definite success and is well worth the time of those after plenty of light entertainment. If you’re feeling nostalgic for arcadey high score pinball action or want a title with a unique slant, then you could do far worse than this game.
 

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