Caught in a war between demons and gods.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Where can I find an adventure game set in ancient India with a feisty heroine with magical weapons?” I know it happens to me every other week.  Luckily, we now have a solution to our problem via Raji: An Ancient Epic.

Raji, our title character, is a teenage girl. She is a street performer specializing in balancing, tumbling, and acrobatics; and in her spare time, she is the guardian of her little brother, Golu.  While Golu is not entertaining crowds with his puppet show, he is usually getting kidnapped by demons.

Wait, what?  OK, I see now, this is where the adventure begins. Golu gets captured, and now it is up to Raji to save him. Don’t worry; Raji gets some help from some powerful friends—chiefly, the Hindu gods Durga and Vishnu.

The first views of the game reveal an attention to detail which results in a rich scenery. As you explore ancient Indian castles, temples, and fortifications, you are treated to a visual spectacle. The architecture, texture, color, and atmosphere combine to create a stunning experience. The soundtrack also features traditional Indian instruments and themes. As gaming experiences go, this is different and refreshing.

The only visual critiques I might offer are that Raji is a bit small on the screen, and you don’t have control over the camera angle. Don’t worry too much about Raji’s own screen size; even in handheld mode you can still see what you need to play the game. As for the camera angle, the game does a fair job of keeping things in view. The paths available for Raji to take are predetermined, so the extra camera control is not really necessary (but it would be nice).

The story is a tried and true theme; our hero has to overcome the impossible to save the day. Help comes in the form of a divine weapon, given by the gods, to ensure your crusade results in a happy ending. Not only does Raji have to save her little brother, but she may save the world in the process. She is fighting a demon army, after all. Who knows what mischief those guys would get up to if they are not stopped?

You start the adventure with Durga’s weapon, which looks like an ornate trident. As you make progress in your adventure, you will be granted additional weapons like Vishnu’s bow. I personally was not thrilled with the bow upgrade. It is a little trickier to use than the trident, so it took some restarts while getting used to how it works.

This brings me to one small frustration with the game. While Raji provides interesting instructions for using new weapons and skills, the game is very particular about getting the new moves just right. When the game teaches a new maneuver, you will see a white silhouette of Raji performing the moves with the appropriate button indicated. For example, silhouette Raji will run toward a wall, the B button will appear, and silhouette Raji will flip off the wall and attack what was behind her. This is a cool way to do tutorials, but the game demands pixel level perfection to get some of the moves right. Worse, the game will not advance until you nail the move exactly. I think I spent about 15 minutes getting one move right before I could get to get back to the story.

But wait, there’s more! The game isn’t just combat, oh no. You also get an interesting story, a primer in the Hindu pantheon, and some puzzles just to break things up. The puzzles are not very difficult, but they do provide a gear shift to keep things from getting too monotonous.

As far as combat goes, Raji learns quickly that her skills as an acrobat are very handy in getting around some dangerous places and dodging demons. You will need every bit of this agility to stay ahead of your foes long enough to take them out. The game provides an interesting means of indicating unit health in the form of a ring of triangles on the ground around the character. This graphic is in keeping with the traditional Indian geometric aesthetic as well as being obvious enough you don’t need to give it too much attention when you really need to be dodging bad guys.

The combat sessions are also a little Thunder Dome-ish. Once you cross the line into the designated combat area, a decorative white line lights up on the ground to outline the arena. Nobody crosses the line—neither Raji nor her opponents—until either all the baddies are defeated or Raji is defeated. If Raji is defeated, you will respawn just outside the combat area, ready to try again.

As adventure games go, I really enjoyed getting wrapped up in Raji: An Ancient Epic.