4 out of 5. A True Hidden Gem. Its flaws are eclipsed by the pure fun provided by its lovable characters, power-tripping weapons, delightful treasure-hunting, and challenging bosses.
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How Metroidvania is it? Medium Fit. Uses chronological Missions that work as mini-metroidvania levels, but still offers a high breadth of exploration and incentive to back track for its many secrets.
Primary Challenge: Melee Combat
Time to beat: ~8 hours
Review Info: This game was played on Steam

More Info

Developer: KROBON station
Publisher: Degica
Sub-genre: Linear Platformer Hybrid
Features: Map System, Multiple Difficulty modes, 2D Platformer, Melee Combat, Tricky Platforming, Story Rich, Narrative/Cutscenes Story Telling, Collectathon, Cute, Level-Based
Difficulty: Medium, High
Linearity/Openness: Level Based
Platforms: Windows, Steam
Release Date: 2016/03/17
Available Languages: English, Japanese

Store Links

    Steam    

Buy Pharaoh Rebirth+ if you like…

  • Stringing together combos for rewards
  • Using a variety of weapons to assist with difficult fights
  • Quirky characters with fun, light-hearted banter
  • Dialog that doesn't care about inturrupting gameplay
  • Catchy music that gets stuck in your head

▼ Review continues below ▼

I suspect that the reason this game isn’t talked about more is because just looking at screenshots it doesn’t stick out as particularly special. But this game should be talked about more, because besides one really frustrating level, this game is near perfect in its execution of solid Metroidvania combat and exploration.

The Rabbit-Man Jonathon comes out of the box feeling powerful, with an array of long-range attacks that nullify projectiles and combo into aerials for which you are rewarded with health and mana. While the basic enemies tend to just be obstacles as you plow through the game’s hallways, bosses have recognizable but tricky patterns to put your tools to use. As you get upgraded through the game’s collectables, every sub-weapon adds welcome tools that cover the weaknesses the basic moveset has, and minor differences in scale – such as increases in attack damage – can be obtained from your treasure hunting. Eventually as you explore previously completed levels, your new movement abilities and gear make you feel godlike. It’s a fantastic power fantasy tempered by progressively increasing challenge to keep you feeling accomplished.

Driving this gameplay is a cute story following the archetypal treasure hunt, made more fun by lovable characters and a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. The banter between Jonathan and his support character Jack and his rival Andre was highly entertaining for me. With that said, the radio conversations constantly pop up within the gameplay, so if the writing fails to appeal to you I could see this as being a detractor. The dialog is skippable through a fast-forward style button press, though there will still be a pause while it’s being skipped. To me though, the character interactions are one of the highlights of the game. It contextualizes the gameplay and makes the good moments great.

The level structure is mission-based, so it’s closer to something like Mega Man Zero or Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia rather than Symphony of the Night. While a lot of the game’s unlockables require you to return to levels already completed, it captures the spirit of exploration rather than strictly being a matter of backtracking. This is helped by nothing obtained by revisits being completely required for the game’s completion (though, especially on the game’s hard mode it certainly helps to get them.) And, as I mentioned, I thought it was fun to revisit and tackle old challenges with the power obtained from later in the game.

The one major complaint I have about Pharaoh Rebirth is in regards to a specific mission that tries to change things up with an on-rails car section. It’s bad, and it’s required to progress. There isn’t enough screen space to really telegraph when you need to jump, so the game uses a sound cue instead. However even knowing that a jump is coming, the timing of when to jump is something that I only mastered through strict trial and error. Since death throws you to continue screen and drops you back in the previous checkpoint this means a lot of replaying sections until either you figure out the rhythm of the sound cue or accomplish the task through rote memorization. In a short burst the vehicle section might not have been terrible, but culminating on its issues, it’s long enough to be exhausting. I felt like the missions that followed were totally worth slogging through it, but a slog it was.

But in spite of that one blight, I think Pharaoh Rebirth + is otherwise an ideal accomplishment of its genre. It certainly deserves attention, and comes highly recommended from me.


Final Score

4/5

Scoring system overview


Metroidvania Breakdown

Combat
– 5

Johnathon feels powerful from the start, and only gets more powerful - and his enemies match his fun array of weapons and moves

Platforming
– 3.5

Swinging from chains, floating through air tunnels, and navigating halls of spikes is challenging, especially late game

Exploration
– 3.5

The game is very linear, but backtracking to previously played levels has a host of rewards that are enjoyable to find

Puzzle
– 2

Not a major focus. Most puzzles have the solution handed to you, though there are a few optional secrets to be found

Story
– 3.5

Lovable characters litter the game with quirky banter - for better or worse. The dialog does inturrupt the game often, which may be a turn-off for some.

Graphics
– 4

Very professional pixel art that perfectly conveys the game's happenings. Distinct art-style gives the game a special personality

Music
– 4.5

Castlevania-esque music fills each level with tunes you won't soon be forgetting

Replayability
– 2

Two difficulty modes, but not a lot of variety in multiple playthroughs. There is however a ton of things to do for 100% completion


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