After nine long years in development, developer DeskWorks has created what can only be described as a perfect embodiment of when imagination takes over with RPG Time: The Legend Of Wright. Spilling colour, nostalgia, and a little bit of childlike glee onto the pages of a notebook, this is a heartwarming tale of two friends at the end of a school day and a humorous take on a heroic adventure.
The story is set out by Kenta, a ten-year-old aspiring game developer with unmatched ingenuity. The construction of Cardboardia, alongside a cast of unforgettable characters, resides on the desk in a classroom, and each element of the game adopts a lovingly handmade appearance. Comprised of puppets, cardboard cutouts, and some pretty incredible origami, Kenta is keen to share the tale of Wright with the player from the moment you boot up the game.
Taking on the role of the titular hero, Wright, you are told a story that you will undoubtedly be well-versed in. Your quest is to rescue the princess from the clutches of evil and restore peace to the world, and even though we’ve been here a thousand times before, the way Kenta explains the story left us with a smile on our faces and a willingness to take part.
The face of all evil takes the form of Dethgawd, a somewhat intimidating Godzilla-like character who is accompanied by an army of underlings, which Wright inevitably has to face as the story progresses. These encounters come in the form of a boss battle toward the end of each area, and each level ends with a cinematic development of the tale, which helps make sense of the occasionally frantic and often unrelated content of the chapter.
While the gameplay isn't breaking new ground, enough passion and personality have been added by the game master to stop things from becoming repetitive or stagnant. Initially, while you have direct control of Wright, the game adopts an almost point-and-click-style approach, with Wright walking around locations and occasionally interacting with objects as Kenta goes into almost too much detail about them. But as you gently progress through the storyline and explore more areas, RPG Time expands from its 2D sketchbook adventure into a 3D minigame-filled journey.
These 3D elements take the form of everyday household objects but paired with Kenta’s phenomenal storytelling and the immersive nature of the whole experience, these items start to come to life. From facing off with a man made of flies to racing around a course in a remote-controlled car, it’s best to expect the unexpected and constantly check items that would usually be no help.
The majority of Wright’s adventure is set in the game book, however, several chapters take you through levels that vary drastically in content. While one chapter saw us exploring the haunted hut of a fearsome witch, another had us playing baseball with an angry mole. Each area contains charming minigames, such as collecting worms or taking Wright through a chemistry-based escape, accompanied by memorable characters with humorous dialogues and personalities.
Boss battles tend to mirror the difficulty of the rest of the game, so they pose no real threat. With a pencil in hand, these turn-based battles require the player to ‘swipe’ (draw on) the opponent's weak spots for a few turns before claiming the victory. Dialogue either before or during the battle will hint towards how to win, but if that’s not enough, each Game Over screen houses a handy hint bug. These battles are far from complex and more an indication of Wright’s progression as a hero, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a fun break between exploring.
Even though the whole game is scripted, there are still elements of player interaction. For example, on several occasions, Kenta will interrupt the gameplay to receive your input. Be it a question integral to gameplay — such as asking what kind of ladder you fancy building — or completed unrelated — like which vegetable you hate the most — these questions immerse you in the world and leave you feeling appropriately in control of the adventure.
Kenta’s passionate attitude is adorable at the beginning, but the sheer amount of quips and comments he makes throughout the game becomes slightly grating over time. If he’s not consistently narrating your character's movement, then he’s instructing you on how to get up each time your health depletes. It’s a perfect representation of childlike excitement, but when you’re close to finishing a chapter and Kenta’s launches into the same soliloquy you've heard before, it can get a bit tedious.
However, the unique hand-drawn appearance of this game is easily its main appeal. The magic of bringing prosaic items to life immediately injects imagination into the storytelling, and DeskWorks' storybook gameplay approach is a love letter to childhood ingenuity. The visuals are enough to keep you engaged on their own, but every innovative use of an item beautifully represents the developer's creativity — even down to the chaotic yet charming pencil etched desk on which Kenta proudly displays his work.
Additionally, Kenta places down an MP3 player to help set the scene. Throughout Wright’s adventure, each area is accompanied by a small selection of tracks, which definitely complements the in-game action to start, but there are few, if any, real standout numbers. Unfortunately, as you progress, rather than encouraging your heroic rescue attempt, blocking out the music when focusing is incredibly easy to do.
Elements of the soundtrack can quickly become grating, too. If you find yourself attempting an area more than once, you are stuck listening to the same track — naturally — and while the minutes slip away, there’s a high chance your sanity will also. The musical repetition is much like Kenta’s narration; charming at first, but it gets old quite quickly.
RPG Time: The Legend Of Wright is a beautifully imaginative, charming RPG. Protagonist Kenta’s childlike glee paired with some inventive storytelling techniques and fantastic presentation make it feel like more than just a one-and-done title. The six-ish-hour campaign has enough to explore to bring you back for another go, even if the storyline sometimes feels slightly sporadic and unconnected. It’s not perfect, with a soundtrack which quickly grates and narration that threatens to do the same, but it remains a charming childhood homage, and a gentle reminder for every player to keep their imagination alive.