Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore

Review: Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore

If you played video games in the early 1990s, you would likely have a Sega Genesis or a Nintendo Entertainment System. But as the gaming industry began to grow, many other competitors were on the market, including the Philips CD-i.

Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore is bringing back the look and feel of that home gaming and computer device. While it was largely a failed format, some beloved software was released on the CD-i in the 1990s, many of which adopted full-motion video or fully animated “cut scenes.”

This new title from Seedy Eye Software (clever, right?) and published by Limited Run Games captures the essence of what some of those games provided over 30 years ago. And while the nostalgia is there, and there is a lot of hilarious, corny, and interesting characterization, Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore‘s gameplay may only strike a chord with certain gamers.

A Wave of Nostalgia in Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore

The game was first announced in 2020, and its online following has grown over the last three years. If you’re hungry for the “good old days” of simpler, funnier, and goofier games, have been clamouring to bust open copies of Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore. 

I will give Seedy Eye Software a ton of credit here. They’ve nailed the look and feel of a game from that era. From the beginning, the story is typical: a big bad steals gemstones and wants to take over the kingdom and eliminate your father, the King.

As Arzette, a female protagonist with some fighting skills, it’s up to you to head out and regain what locked Daimur away in the Book of Oakurin many years ago.

But it’s not the story itself that shines; it’s the characters within it. Whether it’s the King, your smart-ass, scaredy-cat brother, Daimur and his weird crew of cronies, or the dozens of other people and creatures you meet, they all come alive and pop with personality and design whenever they’re on screen.

Each one is like something you’ve never seen or heard before; if you have, it’s likely been decades. They look rough around the edges, make wacky faces and have odd voices and figures of speech, but it’s just the right amount of corny characterization. They’re all beaming with an early 90’s aesthetic that is not seen nowadays.

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Taking out the Baddies

Now to the gameplay. The area of Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore was very hit-and-miss for me. It’s a basic 2D platformer with some light Metroidvania and backtracking elements.

The game essentially boils down to simple traversal: slashing your sword at enemies, shooting projectile weapons, and using items such as bombs. It’s nothing unique, but it does work well most of the time.

Early on, you’re limited to small jumps and short-range sword attacks with a small health bar of three hearts. I don’t mind simplicity, but it took a little too long to unlock Arzette’s more exciting abilities in a game that isn’t all that long in the first place. Once those were introduced, I had a lot more fun.

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Arzette’s Aesthetic Can Only Carry It So Far

Sadly, for about half of Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore’s runtime, I felt like the game was only getting by on its nostalgia and presentation and was not pulling its weight in the gameplay department.

The enemies walk and fly on predictable and basic paths, the items work well but don’t do anything all that interesting, and it feels like nothing has any weight to it; except Arzette herself. Her jumps are easy to control, which is excellent, but nearly everything else you encounter feels like it’s made of paper.

I think the game still plays well. I didn’t run into any glaring issues or bugs. All the weapons do what you’d expect and do them consistently well. Finding new items is always fun and adds depth, and the runtime is the perfect length for a game like this.

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Because Limited Run Games publishes the game, they’ve gone all in on physical releases and editions. For a limited time, you can purchase Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore on several platforms along with the official soundtrack.

Verdict

I did have fun playing Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore, even though it was a mixed bag. If you’re in the right mood for a game like this, it’ll really hit home in a big way. The retro feel, presentation, art style, and gameplay are all there, but for me, it felt like Arzette was stuck a little too far in the past.

Despite my conflicting feelings, this game has a low cost of entry. I still think this is a very unique title and one that most people should check out, especially if you’re in the mood for some really weird and interesting characters brought to life by some great voice acting.

Recommended

[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: Switch

Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore
Review: Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore
Summary
Despite uneven gameplay, Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore still brings some unique things to the table. The presentation overall is as retro as it gets, backed up by wacky characters and hilariously fun voice acting.
Liked
Wonderfully wacky cast of characters
Fun, inventive, and bring colours
Simple, yet fun gameplay
Didn't Like
Feels very simple in the early stages
Backtracking can get tedious
Hit box on Arzette feels a little too unforgiving