JRPGs and games based on JRPGs generally have a few tropes that can be janky but nostalgic for a lot of gamers. Rarely does one come out that takes everything people love about the genre and improves on it, but 8-Bit Adventures 2 does just that. Between excellent writing, snappy combat, and beautiful graphics, 8-Bit Adventures 2 feels like a near-perfect dream for JRPG lovers.
Everything starts out with Charlie, one of the new characters in the game, running away from a pseudo-orphanage to help Thief find Warrior, two of the original characters. They find him under the control of Glitch, the new villain. After a bit of battling, Mage shows up and saves the day. Glitch is a significant, world-ending problem that the gang has to stop, and along the journey to do just that, Robot and Emma join. Together, the six of them make their way across the continents to stop Glitch while also helping out the cities they meet.
The Characters Feel Real
8-Bit Adventures 2 is the direct sequel to 8-Bit Adventures, taking place two years after the original game. The original characters are back and better than ever, and they’ve all built a life for themself after the first game. The game’s pretty easy to play without knowing the first story, and it fills in the gaps of what happened over time. Four new characters round out the squad, and despite having a rather large party, they all feel unique. Relationships between the party members build organically throughout the adventure, and these aren’t just shallow moments-at some point, most of the characters have a one-on-one experience with the other party members that feel natural. I was invested in these characters, and it felt like a treat to see them connect more and more through the game.
One specific character I bonded with was Emma. Emma’s a mage who’s blind, and the story doesn’t forget that fact in its darkest moments. At one point, the group is in a pitch-black area where sound stops completely. This had a profound impact on Emma that the party recognizes and works with considering she relies on sound more than the average person. At another point, the player has to navigate as Emma through cracking ice while Warrior tries to help. Not only is this a pretty anxious moment for the player, but it builds up Emma and Warrior’s relationship. These moments brought 8-Bit Adventures 2 to a deeper level than most other games in the same genre.
It’s not just the main characters who are fully fleshed out. The main villain of the game, Glitch, is another compelling character with motives that pull at heartstrings. Characters are brought up in nearly every town that has stories, and many of the main characters have moments with others not in the party that really make the world feel whole.
Combat, Characters, and Calamity
The turn-based combat system is your general JRPG-esque combat with a few enhancements, like a system of swapping characters out at any point without losing a turn. There are also equipable items called Augments. These give special, bigger buffs to individual characters on top of the standard accessories, weapons, and armor that every other JRPG has. Some of these include buffs like resisting certain status effects, which can really turn the tide of more difficult battles. Certain weapons also have unique effects, like a chance of inflicting paralysis. Many of these weapons are found by exploring and interacting with people, which feels like a pretty great reward.
The characters shine on the field as well. Each character has a unique playstyle, and utilizing the entire party together is the key to the majority of battles. While there may be favorites in battle (mine was Charlie and Emma), each member of the team has a useful role that you’ll need in most major fights. For example, Charlie’s a dual-wielding support who can constantly cut down defenses while Warrior is the ultimate tank. Despite these being classic classes, they play like perfect versions of themselves.
That’s not to say there were no issues in combat. Sometimes numbers just didn’t make sense – Emma would knock an enemy with Magic Damage one turn, the enemy’s Magic Defense would be lower, and the next turn Emma would somehow hit with the same attack for less. Luckily, this didn’t detract much from the game, it just made some bosses feel significantly harder. There were also a few technical issues. However, Critical Games was extremely quick to patch any issue found.
Beautiful Pixel Art
While the pixel art aesthetic isn't for everyone, 8-Bit Adventures 2 can be appreciated by everyone. The character sprites are lively and full of personality, and the cinematics featuring the characters further that. The overworld and combat look like what you'd expect from a JRPG, but then a random scene will pop up that's breathtakingly gorgeous. The colors pop, and artist Jeremy Fahey's talent is on display nearly constantly.
The music is just as grand in a much more subtle way. Some boss fights have tunes that will stick in your head (especially if you have to go at it multiple times). Others are something you look back on. Certain parts of the game pull emotions out of the player, and a huge part of that lies in the cohesiveness of every part of the game, including the music. Parts that are building up and feel anxious will often use music-or the lack of it-to help increase those feelings. It's an experience that's not in your face, but noteworthy on its own.
Overall, a Treat for JRPG Fans
8-Bit Adventures 2 is the ideal sequel, and it’s just as easy to jump into without knowing anything about the first game-the story from the first title is worked in wonderfully. Between a fantastic story with endearing, well-written characters and combat that utilizes every feature available, the game is perfect for any JRPG fan.
TechRaptor reviewed 8-Bit Adventures 2 on PC with a copy provided by the developer.
- Amazing storytelling
- Snappy combat
- Beautiful pixel artwork
- Minor combat issues