Athenian Rhapsody

Review: Athenian Rhapsody — A Wacky and Unhinged Good Time!

I’m not often at a loss for words when explaining what a game truly is. Platformers, RPGs, first-person shooters, and many other genres are used daily to narrow down a particular title’s idea and broad gameplay mechanics.

But in comes Athenian RhapsodyEven after hours and hours of playing this wild game, I still can’t pin it down! Don’t worry, though; this is a good thing. It’s carving its path of weirdness by drawing inspiration from many other RPG-like games and delivering a story and world that is unapologetically strange.

The launch trailer below lists numerous gameplay mechanics and world-building ideas, shows off the colourful and wild art styles and asks, “Is this the best game ever? That depends on your opinion. Which everyone is entitled to have their own.” So let’s do that!

Wait, What’s Going On!?

As the main, silent protagonist, you’re immediately thrown into the world of Athens. Here, almost anything and anyone is possible. You look like Ash Ketchum from the Pokémon franchise but with a backward hat (cool!). These creatures welcome you (I really don’t know what to call them), giving you a sense of the unhinged game you’re about to play and some basic mechanics.

Outrageous scenario after another, Athenian Rhapsody wastes no time showing you that it wears its insanity and humour on its sleeve. Admittedly, this was not my cup of tea at first. It felt bombastic and in-my-face, which is typically not my style. Humour is difficult to pull off in games.

That being said, after a while, I was intrigued by what this game had to offer; it didn’t matter that fart jokes, disses, ridiculous puzzles, and fights were all around me. I found myself diving deeper and deeper into the mind of creator Nico Papalia and loving it!

hdNLk77

I mentioned above that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what this game is. But essentially, it is a top-down RPG adventure. You’ll walk through countless areas, discovering new characters to help, fight, or befriend. The main goal of Athenian Rhapsody is to reach a place called The Garden, which is apparently at the end of the world. You’re just as confused as the main character, wondering why everyone in Athens is obsessed with EXP and why all these creatures want to fight you!

There’s a Little Bit of This and That in Athenian Rhapsody

Athenian Rhapsody draws a few elements from classic Pokémon games and indie darlings like Undertale. There are turn-based creature battles, but none feel repetitive or are as simple as you might think. For example, early fights range from a squirrel that throws acorns to a fly that buzzes around trying to damage you. In each instance, you’ll control your character in a small box and actively move around to avoid being hit. Later battles get slightly more complex, but each has personality and unique challenges.

This was one of the most wonderful surprises for me. I couldn’t believe how many odd and fun ideas were thrown into the battle system alone. Nothing felt like the same experience, and I don’t think I’ve ever played a game with so many new ideas in such a short period. Athenian Rhapsody is here to give you variety, fun, and laughter. Even if I was struggling at some points, I was never frustrated.

But it’s not all about smacking baddies and accumulating EXP. You can befriend creatures as well. This happens within the battle screen but in its menu where you can pet enemies, high-five them, offer hugs or gifts, or dozens of other hilarious options. This will not only get you out of a fight largely unscathed, but it will add to your Rhapsody.

Athenian Rhapsody’s also has a great way to bring in personalized experiences. Your Rhapsody is your own story, one that you’ve (knowingly or not) created while playing the game. You can share your specialized card with others and see how you and your friends compare. Because discovery and exploration are encouraged, these results will likely vary quite a bit.

Quest Me, Bro!

Or don’t, that’s ok. Because while Athenian Rhapsody may share ideas from other RPGs, as we’ve seen in the past, there’s no large quest list or objectives to check in on. The game is not a subtle experience in many ways, but it is clever about allowing you to explore and take your time with nearly every aspect.

After the first hour or so, the game becomes much more complicated than it might seem. You can turn on Chill Mode anytime if things feel too intense or you’re struggling to get past a particular battle. This option is offered whenever you’d like and is often encouraged by the game, telling the player that they want you to stop and smell the roses and continue exploring. This was an excellent option that I ended up using a few times. I moved on past a tough battle, and my wacky adventure continued!oygRkZH

Verdict

It isn’t easy to describe the joyous and unhinged time that Athenian Rhapsody provides. Nearly any type of wild idea, bad joke, strange creature, or game mechanic can be found in this game. It doesn’t care what you think; it just wants you to have a good time!

Athenian Rhapsody is likely the most unique experience I’ve had in the last few years… or longer. While the presentation or crazy antics may not be for everyone, I do think it’s a tremendous light-hearted RPG experience that provides a great escape from reality and offers a perfect laugh.

Recommended

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

Reviewed on: Switch

Athenian Rhapsody
Review: Athenian Rhapsody — A Wacky and Unhinged Good Time!
Summary
Athenian Rhapsody could be the craziest game I've ever played. It is filled with insane and funny ideas that are all wrapped in a solid RPG experience. You'll be surprised, shocked, and wowed by the sheer uniqueness and insanity on display.
Liked
Overall presentation is refreshingly colourful and sharp
Battles are unique and fun
Characters and writing are hilarious
So, so much to discover
Didn't Like
Story can be hard to follow... it's so strange
8