Content Warning: Hindsight 20/20: Wrath of the Raakshasa deals with issues of suicide.
Hindsight 20/20: Wrath of the Raakshasa is a choice-driven third-person action-adventure developed and published by Triple-I Games. Entering the world of Hindsight 20/20 requires a player to face hard choices with unclear consequences. Walking the paths of mercy or choosing to become a ruthless killer is in the player’s hands. But there is no perfect road through this narrative experience. There is no way to make everyone happy. Perhaps mercy is always the best route to take, but perhaps though, it isn’t.
Games built around strong narratives and choice-driven stories are some of the hardest to demo. With the payoff often coming hours after a moment happens, it’s all but impossible to capture in a ten-minute demo. Nonetheless Hindsight 20/20: Wrath of the Raakshasa was able to show off some of its choice-driven options to me. This left me feeling hopeful for when the full experience becomes available.
As my PAX East demo started, I found myself in Hindsight 20/20’s fantasy setting. My character, Jehan, is informed that their best friend, Andrew, has been taken captive by the town sheriff. As it turns out, early in the game this man kills my father. Already, I’m faced with my first moral dilemma. Will I hunt down the sheriff and slay him? Rescue my friend, but not kill the sheriff, or is my grief still too strong and I cannot go after my friend?
I resolved to save my friend, but not to slay the sheriff. As I head out, I was confronted with guards who are bent on stopping me from reaching my goal. Here is where another choice is set before me; to walk the path of mercy or ruthlessness.
Before each combat, during my demo, I am asked if I want to wield a sword or a sort of taser weapon. The sword is easier to wield, but will obviously end the lives of all who fight me. The taser is a little trickier to wield but has some unique special attacks. Also, the taking of life is abhorrent to most of those who live in my town. So to wield the sword will cast me in a different light in many of their eyes. For me, I choose the taser.
While I’ve emphasized the importance of the narrative and storytelling, this is, first and foremost, an action game. Much more time was spent wielding my weapon than in dialogue. The story is important, but the action is what you will be doing most of the time.
Wielding my chosen weapon in Hindsight 20/20: Wrath of the Raakshasa’s combat is a little tricky to get used to. Timing is important as multiple enemies are often encircling you. Happily, the game offers a very forgiving checkpoint system, never sending me back further than the beginning of whichever fight I died in. With each death though, I could see improvement. For me, that is the most important thing when facing gameplay challenges.
Between two of my combat encounters, I am also faced with a minor box-moving puzzle. This little challenge served to break up the string of combat encounters nicely. The challenge itself wasn’t anything special but was well-executed and enjoyable. Once I reached the boss I had a brief dialogue where I reaffirmed my intention to let him live. Once the battle began I quickly found myself recognizing patterns and dodging and landing blows with a solid success rate making quick work of my opponent. Or so I thought.
Well into the fight, Jehan hears a cry, hoping it is not Andrew, the game urges me to finish the combat. Upon completing the boss fight, I go searching for Andrew. It is revealed to me that Andrew, in his sorrow has thrown himself from the building he was being held in. Had I fought faster I would’ve had a chance to talk him down.
Often times, having moments where the world responds in such a way can be frustrating. How was I to know there was a clock running in the background? While this is a common reaction to such unforeseen circumstances in a game, there is something that makes this sort of moment more appealing in Hindsight 20/20: Wrath of the Raakshasa. The game sports a brisk four to six hour playtime. This encourages gamers to accept such instances to see where the game leads. After all, you can play through again without a great investment of time. And with seven unique endings to unlock, players have a good reason to check out what might’ve been. Hindsight, after all, is 20/20.
The visuals utilized in the game fall a bit on the cartoony side. Oversized heads and often comical motions help to counterbalance the seriousness of the story. And while the character models have that cartoonish feel, the color scheme in the area I played certainly kept the feeling grounded in seriousness. This delicate balance helped to keep the emotion there, but not drive it home so much that one could be overwhelmed at the moment to moment gameplay.
There are still a lot of questions for Hindsight 20/20: Wrath of the Raakshasa to answer. Will the choices really matter that much? Will the gameplay hold up well enough to make me want to revisit the story more than once? Only time can answer these questions. My demo experience has me feeling extremely optimistic.
Hindsight 20/20: Wrath of the Raakshasa is currently shooting for a Q4 release this year on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Mac.