By Renan Fontes 16.04.2017
The JRPG genre has been constantly evolving since its inception in the 80s, beginning as a series that offered a more story heavy and immersive experience compared to other video games at the time. As the genre has evolved, so has its priorities. Without hardware limitations, gameplay could be more dynamic, stories could be bolder, and developers could really experiment with what constitutes a "JRPG." With growth, however, comes nostalgia, and In Vitra is all about offering a traditional, simple JRPG experience… for better or worse.
While most less than stellar RPGs wait a while before unveiling their flaws, In Vitra shows some mercy by demonstrating just how boring and uninspired the whole adventure will be right out of the gate.
The story begins like many traditional JRPGs before it. The main character wakes up in his humble village, does some mundane task, and his life is forever changed through some unexpected event. Tradition is far from the problem here - a nice homage to the early era of roleplaying could be pulled off well; the issue is that there's really no attempt to do anything with the simple premise.
Noa is a bland main character who's only made blander by the incredibly stiff writing, and his village and family are too underdeveloped to form any sort of attachment to him or his situation. As far as protagonists go, Noa is a miss, but a good JRPG doesn't necessarily need a good main character to prevail. Unfortunately, In Vitra is missing quite a few key qualities needed to make a good JRPG.
Perhaps the developers should have thought twice before going with 2.5D graphics for the overworld. At the very least, they should have refined everything visually before release because, as is, there's very little appealing about the world of In Vitra.
Areas seem to blend into one another not due to clever design or a cohesive art style, but because every location is as unimaginative as possible. Noa's world is lifeless and his adventure seldom gives a good reason for his party to care about the next empty town or generic forest.
Battles are the typical turn-based fare with speed determining turn order. Combat is lacking to say the least. A good JRPG doesn't need a variation to a system that works in order to be good, but it helps to have one simply to differentiate combat and make it more engaging, whether that be a Paper Mario reaction system, combos à la Lisa, or just adding the necessity to use legitimate strategy as seen in Shin Megami Tensei. Had the developers spent some more time with how battles worked, it could have potentially saved the middling story, but a lack of polish seems to be a theme with this RPG.
The most glaring part of battles, however, is the art style, which beautifully displays at full force just how thoughtless the whole package is. Noa's party, and other characters, were very clearly designed specifically for the story due to their unique art style, but enemies are relegated to a generic RPG Maker style that not only makes it obvious they were simply dropped in, but also creates a lack of economy between In Vitra's many aspects.
Consistency is one of the most important aspects of any video game, period. A strong developer can play around with a lack of consistency to prove a point or test the medium, but In Vitra's lack of cohesion isn't some sort of statement, it's just a result of laziness.
In Vitra is an ugly, unfortunate mess of an RPG that never quite manages to form an identity of its own. The already pitifully short and poorly written plot ends far too soon without really resolving anything, with a shameless sequel hook that fails to close out the narrative in any meaningful way. Gameplay is traditional, but boring, without any visual flares or twists to mask the fact it was haphazardly put together in RPG Maker. In Vitra is an unpolished, overpriced attempt at an RPG that desperately needed a redraft and another year, minimum, of work done on it before it could even be considered launch ready.