Arietta of Spirits review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Red Art Games
Developer: Third Spirit Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

Up until last year, I?d never been into top-down RPGs. Like, at all. In 30+ years of gaming, somehow no games like that had ever really spoken to me all that much. Then, out of nowhere, last year I had two games that fit into that broad category ? Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (my personal GOTY) and Nexomon ? that were among my most played, and suddenly I was eager to give the whole genre a chance.

While I wouldn?t say that Arietta of Spirits turned me off the whole genre again, I?m sad to report that just because I like some games in the genre doesn?t mean I now like all games in the genre.

That?s not to say that Arietta of Spirits is a bad game, mind you ? it?s not. It?s just that it?s also not anything special, either. It?s basically just a pretty standard top-down RPG in most respects. The combat is fine: you attack with a wooden sword, you dodge some particularly aggressive animals ? it?s nothing you haven?t seen before. It can be a little annoying at times, since hit detection can be a little tough to master, and you can never quite tell when you?re close enough to hit an enemy without being so close that you lose some health in the process, but on the whole, it works exactly as you?d expect.

Likewise, the visuals are pretty much exactly what you?d expect. It?s kind of pixel art-y, albeit some some nice, vivid colours, so it pops off the screen a lot more than many, say, KEMCO RPGs that all seem to draw from the exact same colour palette. Again, it?s pleasant enough, but nothing memorable.

Just about the only area where Arietta of Spirits stands out is in its story, but even that has some issues. On the one hand, it?s a nice story about a girl coming to terms with the death of her grandmother and saving an island that she loves, and it?s told at just the right pace ? long enough you can get into it, but not so long that it overstays its welcome.

On the other hand, however, the game has a tendency to overexplain things, or to decide to stop the action dead so it can tell you some more plot. While I wouldn?t say this is the worst thing (since, again, it?s a nice story), it does make it feel like the game lurches along at times, making you stop and start regularly enough that it takes a little away from the flow.

But it certainly could have been a lot worse, as these games go. Arietta of Spirits won?t wow you like some of the best Zelda-inspired games, but it?s still got some niceness at its core. That may not make it a classic, but it?s enough to make it fun enough while it lasts.

Red Art Games provided us with an Arietta of Spirits Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B