Also on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
As I?ve written on multiple occasions over the years, KEMCO JRPGs tend not to be all that varied. Occasionally one will be slightly better or slightly worse, but for the most part they float along being perfectly average.
The good news about Wizards of Brandel is that it tries something new. The bad news: that new thing is microtransactions.
I?m not going to say that these microtransactions break the game or anything, because they don?t — not really. They?re there, and their existence is annoying, but Wizards of Brandel is relatively easy enough that you should be able to get by without ever having to spend a cent beyond the price of the game.
(Of course, you may object on the basis of the fact you?ve already spent $15 on the game and you shouldn?t be expected to pay more to buy shortcuts. I certainly wouldn?t dispute that, and I?d also wonder why anyone would pay extra money to win a single-player game in which you could just lower the difficulty level, but I digress.)
Interestingly, apart from that huge negative, Wizards of Brandel actually stands out for being one of the better written JRPGs I?ve seen in awhile. It leans heavily on absurdity, and it works. The game starts off with the main character, Darius, waking up to discover his house has been repossessed around him. Shortly after that, you discover that Darius has a secret identity as the author of magic books, and that his pen name is Holy Angel Feline Princess. He goes to a castle, meets the Evil Lord Mark (who I legitimately thought was a girl on account of how extravagantly he dressed), and helps a bunch of fairies clean the castle. There?s also, of course, a bunch of other stuff about rival evil lords and fighting monsters and whatnot, but the point is: Holy Angel Feline Princess and Evil Lord Mark. Whether intentionally or not, Wizards of Brandel isn?t afraid to show it has a sense of humour, and it makes the rest of the game seem a lot more palatable, even enjoyable.
Admittedly, if you don?t find that hilarious, then you?ll just find Wizards of Brandel to be yet another in a long line of unremarkable, indistinguishable JRPGs. And, what?s more, if you hate microtransactions, then you may even find this game intolerable. Personally, though, this was the best KEMCO JRPG I?ve seen in a long time — possibly ever — and I?m willing to ignore those microtransactions if it means the game leans in on the silliness as much as this one does.
KEMCO provided us with a Wizards of Brandel PS4/Vita code for review purposes.