Role-playing video games have always offered gamers a chance to streamline the math-rich mechanics of pen-and-paper tabletop systems and add visual pizzazz to the old text-based genre. RPG Time: The Legend of Wright invites players to imagine the freedom of old school graph paper adventures made on screen, trying to connect the best of all RPG worlds. While the game doesn’t always succeed, with simple gameplay and sometimes inscrutable mechanics, the end result is certainly a delight to behold.
RPG Time: The Legend of Wright invites players into a portable tabletop RPG campaign. Initially greeted by a Dungeon Master, players interact with the world of paper crafting through flipbooks, cardboard figures and, of course, graph paper. As they pilot the hero Wright through this story-within-a-story, players experience standard RPG fare, earn weapons, slay monsters, and even solve puzzles. Each new level offers a new way to interact with the world, from digging cavities with a shovel to driving tanks, and the game always emphasizes the vanity of playing a dynamic tabletop campaign.
Part of the charm of RPG Time: The Legend of WrightIt’s his whimsical leaps of logic that reflect the odd choices players make when given the freedom of a system like Dungeons & Dragons. The game still feels like it has momentum, but also like someone’s little brother has asked to do some really unplanned action. The narrative meta aspect – that players are playing a video game of a TTRPG – adds to the fun and is one of the strongest aspects of the game. RPG time leans heavily into this part of world-building, with each new character appearing like the DM in a new hat and things outside of the game world, like a basketball, landing on the table and impacting the game.
The art of RPG Time: The Legend of Wright is also perfectly designed. The desktop, filled with black-and-white 2D animations on grid paper as well as colorful cardboard shapes, is intricate and stunning, and the closer players look, the more jokes and references to TTRPG space appear. At times, the sheer amount of on-screen information can feel overwhelming as the UI overwhelms players with options and colors, but at least the game is cluttered with interesting details.
Allowing RPG Time: The Legend of Wright on the other hand, it’s the feeling that ultimately every challenge presented to Wright and the player is just a busy job. The puzzles aren’t incredibly interesting or challenging, but the most problematic thing is that it never feels like there’s any real stakes. As players progress through each level, they are confronted with new styles of play using new tools or buttons to interact with the admittedly creative world in new ways. The ever-changing mechanics are too simplistic to inspire an experienced player. No speed or dexterity is really needed to complete the tasks. However, while not difficult, the mechanics vary wildly, sometimes on the same screen, making it difficult for inexperienced players to follow, especially given the busy interface.
At the end of the day, RPG Time: The Legend of Wright takes a lot of big swings. Although they don’t always connect, the end result is a creative and compelling game, presenting players with a one-of-a-kind style. In some ways, RPG time feels more like an interactive story than a true RPG, offering a new way to approach the game’s charming design. The target audience may not be hardcore RPG fans eager to show off their min-max skills or their trigger reflexes, but rather players interested in a sweet, fun, and indulgent story.
Developed by DeskWorks Inc. and published by Aniplex Inc., RPG Time: The Legend of Wright launches August 18 for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.