Indian Mythology is full of mighty warriors who are either blessed by the Gods and Goddesses; or are the incarnations of the Gods themselves. We grew up hearing legends of Lord Rama, Arjuna, Sree Krishna, Lord Hanuman and other many mighty warriors. Similarly, Raji narrates the story of another human acting as the Gods’ Spear against the Darkness of the Ashuras (demons). It had been a dark and difficult Journey for developers, Nodding Head Games, but their end product is stunningly beautiful.
Indian game development scene has always lacked that spark, and hence, we mostly got poor ripoffs of popular games. That too, mostly for mobile devices. Good games developed by small Indian studios always failed to gain the limelight. Understandably, developers are afraid to try. Raji had a similar story. The wonderful team of Nodding Head Games almost went broke developing the game. They struggled their way through, and the end product is a work of pure art and vision. A product that promises the potential of Indian devs, and deserves the love of Indie game fans and gamers in general. Let’s dive deep down as we present to you our review of Raji: An Ancient Epic.
Indian Culture, its depiction and appreciation
India has always been a colourful country. From celebrating different festivals like Diwali, Holy, Eid etc. to the beautiful carnivals and the puppet shows, and small scale circuses; Indians always enjoy a life of variety and colours. Raji is a game made with colours, just like India itself. From the soothing blue and pink aesthetic of Hiranya Nagri level to the warm colours in deserts of Thar – the game is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. Besides the beautiful environment design, the game embraces the Hindu Mythos. And it tells us the story of Raji, an orphan and street performer who begins her journey in search of her brother.
Raji is blessed by different Gods and Goddesses throughout her journey in order to save the world and heavens from the threat of Mahabalasura. The game grasps its Indian heritage as the devs put in stories of the different incarnations of Ma Durga, Lord Vishnu and Mahadeva. Each level is designed after the iterations of ancient Indian cities, fortresses, villages in mountains and deserts, namely the Thar. Even the cut-scenes are designed after the paper and stick puppets, a key street performance in the carnivals of India. The game also features Rajasthani folk music as its main soundtrack. Character aesthetics are Rajasthani as well. Besides the magnificent art-style, the game also flaunts some of the most beautiful particle effects and physics, especially for a small budget Indie Title.
Story, Design and Combat
The Story is about the Journey of a street performer orphan girl, Raji, who was saved by the Gods when demons attacked her town and took her little brother hostage. You play Raji, and you are aided by different Gods and their blessings throughout your journey, as you travel to different locations. You need to solve puzzles and fights with hoards of Demons to finish each level. Generally each level ends with a boss fight, each of whom are different and uses different attacks, which you need to keep an eye out for. Overall the combat is good in my opinion, but needs a bit time to understand how it works.
Not everything is perfect
Despite the beautiful art-style and marvellous aesthetics, the game has its fair share of shortcomings. Some attack animations take too much time, and fast paced enemies like the stalkers or monkey monsters can cancel your attack. At times the game will make a small arena for you and spawn a dozen enemies inside that small space, where it becomes a chore to continuous dodge and attack at the same time. Same puzzles are repeated over and over, and a short story with a huge cliff-hanger ending riles up the mind. Also to add to the list, the final boss was disappointing, as you already gain the most powerful weapon – the Sudarshan Chakra. Also some weapons like the Trishul of Ma Durga loses its value as you unlock the Shield and Sword.
This might seem a bit nit-picking, but I didn’t like the voice actor of Raji. The other voice actors of Ma Durga and Vishnu did a wonderful job in my opinion, but the way the voice actor of our protagonist talked in certain situations made me chuckle. Camera is another issue and in my play through, I mostly died because of how the camera worked during plat-forming segments.
Performance and Final Verdict
Game is well optimized but there are some bugs here and there. A bug which I faced was when the enemy was stuck in its animation after I used a finisher on him, so I had to restart the game again. Besides this I didn’t find any other issues as such.
Artstyle and aesthetics: 9/10
Priced at just Rs. 539 (with the 10% sale on steam), the game is very cheap for what it offers. You should definitely grab this game. Or, you could wait for the sale, given that the game is only 5 hours long.
Either way, it’s a game which will aesthetically please you. All of us here at L.A.G. are hoping for more games from Indian developers soon enough.