By Adele Chapline Smith
NEW YORK (CNS) — “Operencia: The Stolen Sun,” a role-playing game from Zen Studios informed by Hungarian folk legends, explores the lines where history and myth collide.
Despite some restrained mayhem and infrequent lapses into vulgar talk, it’s an appropriate choice for teen as well as grown gamers.
Once ruled by King Attila and Queen Reka, the kingdom of Operencia is in chaos because a strange force from the underworld has kidnapped the Sun King, Napkiraly. The player creates a custom hero who, after experiencing the same mysterious dream over and over, embarks on a search for answers that becomes a quest to save the Sun King and all Operencia from certain doom.
The characters he or she meets up with — from the seven companions encountered, four can be chosen to form a combat party — are all well-voiced and often engage with one another, commenting on the history of their realm, their backgrounds or the significance of certain locations.
“Operencia” represents an homage to classic titles of the past. As such, it will have special appeal for those who look back fondly to the early days of gaming.
The influence of Magyar culture pervades “Operencia,” from its lush art design and its music to the guise in which some of its hero’s enemies appear. As the distribution company’s director of creative communications, Chris Baker, observed in an interview with Variety: “It’s all based around Central European mythology.
“Zen Studios is based in Hungary. So a lot of our developers grew up with this and the West doesn’t know it as well. It was part of their folklore.”
Given that Zen Studios mostly designs pinball games, their creation of this vivid experience is all the more impressive. The turn-based combat system is responsive and well-executed, featuring melee and ranged weapons, magic and special attacks.
Two weak points of the game are the tile-based graph map and the low camera angles. Graph maps are an old-school mechanic, and some may enjoy that. But, when combined with modern camera angles that are very low to the ground, the result can be a strange feeling of motion sickness. In fact, players subject to that malady should be sure to avoid this otherwise attractive title.
Playable on PlayStation 4, XBox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
The game contains mostly stylized combat violence with some blood effects and occasional crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is T — teens.
Smith reviews video games for Catholic News Service.