Antagonizing RPGs: Antagonist Review
There is a ton of turn-based, retro RPGs on the market, typically following a hero through an intense adventure of truth, hope, and light, and inevitably defeating the darkness. Antagonist sets out to flip this script on its head, putting you in the shoes of the bad guy trying to defeat all of those obnoxious heroes. The game wins with an original narrative ripe with humor, but down moments make this game sag outside of battle. While the dialogue is compelling and witty, there wasn’t enough real estate for Antagonist to truly spread its wings.
Antagonist starts out following D’Vil, an aspiring actor who plays villains in movies at Evil Productions. While following his dreams of being the best villain in Hollywood, D’Vil is thrown into the role of being the Dark Lord on an upcoming film. His (well, your) goal is to unleash a beast of the hero, Ralph, and then face off against Ralph once he defeats the beast. Ultimately, the director tells you that you will be defeated by Ralph, thus forcing you into villain stardom. However, this plan goes south when Ralph is actually attacked by the beast and both of you are cast into the woods. Ralph, either taking his job too seriously or not knowing, keeps treating you like the villain you portray. Through different dialogue choices, you can either fight against Ralph or team up with him to figure out what’s going on behind Evil Productions.
The story is perhaps the strongest point of Antagonist. It’s certainly not the normal story, and I was genuinely surprised as the story progressed. Combine the premise with some ridiculous “hero” cameos and story turns out to be pretty entertaining. No, it’s not deep and it comes off more novel than anything else, but it is a fun ride while it lasts.
The graphics, much like the gameplay, is in the vein of old top-down FF games. However, instead of a top-down view that you can walk around, the game plays out more like a visual novel (more on that later). The dialogue segments and battle scenes look pretty much you would expect them to. The scenes and elements that comprise them aren’t flashy, but they work.
However, the character and monster design are unique. Often, the design of the “heroes” that you’ll encounter along your path are the most entertaining part. The graphics aren’t incredible, no, but the design does tie together to draw more towards the ridiculous world that each of these characters lives in.
Again, the sound runs status quo. There is no voice acting and instead, reactions and characters emotions are highlighted by different sound effects that play. There isn’t anything wrong with the sound effects, but they just kind of exist.
The main point that annoyed the hell out of me on the sound front is the droning noise that plays while the text is running out. I understand the need for it but hearing it so often while text ran across the screen of this pseudo-visual novel. Often, I would turn the game down just not to listen to it. It’s not game-breaking, but it is a little obnoxious because it’s being played so often.
Antagonist blends together two unique genres of gameplay into one. The game is part old school RPG and part visual novel. What this essentially means is that the game bounces back and forth between battles and long dialogue sequences to drive the narrative forward.
These two elements don’t beautifully blend together, though. The dialogue ends up feeling like a chore and battles aren’t exciting because I know exactly what is left on the other side. The ebb and flow of dialogue and battles doesn’t feel balanced and instead feels repetitive more than anything else.
The dialogue is well written and entertaining but mashes with the battle sequences. Battles sequences feature classic turn-based gameplay with normal options like attack, skill, guard, and item. Often, the battles, while entertaining, are not as deep as one might expect. Skills are granted throughout the story, and experience is gained to level up characters each battle. However, since these battles are on wheels, these rewards don’t feel as valuable. There is not option to grind random encounters to level up your team, of delve into skill trees to make each character in your party a unique fighter. While it doesn’t seem intentional, the lack of random encounters or deep RPG elements holds Antagonist’s gameplay back from feeling truly meaningful.
For the Aficionado
Antagonist is a fun little ride that I enjoyed taking. The story is solid, the characters are funny, and the gameplay is enough just to satisfy. However, the game does end up feeling more like an entertaining, novel experience, and not a deep, fulfilling game.
With that being said, for $2.99, there isn’t much to expect in terms of a deep, fulfilling game. When the price is brought into context, Antagonist hits the ball out of the park offering a fun, contained, experience. For $2.99, I would buy Antagonist at full price if I wanted an entertaining experience to distract me for a few hours.