Towards the Pantheon is an RPG about a girl named Freyja. I’m not going to ruin the story for you, because it’s pretty fun, but, it’s about a viking girl, her friend who is a cat, a half robot-girl who you meet along the way, and a ghost. Yeah. A fuckin’ ghost and a girl who has half a metal face riding on Hamsters, imagine how that works.
So, you start as a girl in a town where there’s tons of vikings doing viking things. An old man tells you what to do, and you just kinda get to leave. There’s not a huge sweeping story to pull you in, but, it’s not that type of environment. The cutscenes aren’t like… pauses in the gameplay, you walk into an area and talk to the person you need to talk to before continuing. So, the game never really takes control away from you. The story is fun, although, it’s very light on cut scenes. It’s mostly just a few pieces of dialogue and you are back in the action. A lot of people prefer this to the dialogue heavy RPGs. I’m from an era where the second disc of your game could be one giant cut scene with a few battles thrown in, and we liked it, but, this isn’t bad either. The story is simple at first, but it quickly gains mass as you start adding characters who riff off each other well.
From their Steam Page:
“A group known as The Sworn Light have been gaining power throughout the world through divide and conquer tactics. While the humans, felines, electropunks, and ghosts argue amongst themselves, The Sworn Light are taking advantage of each situation in order to take ultimate control. One day Keltoi village chief Wuotan summons his strongest warrior Freyja to embark on a long and dangerous journey. Her mission is to trek towards The Pantheon to defeat the source of The Sworn Light before the world falls into chaos.”
Luckily, the writing in this game is both wholesome, funny, and family friendly, so, it doesn’t matter what your age or tolerance for tomfoolery, the game isn’t going to upset you by shouting epithets or by going all edge-lord for no reason. (I’m looking at you, Ghost Recon Wildlands, and your random shouting of swear words to seem cool.) Each character has a different way they can interact with the environment, and a different way they are useful in battle. For example, Freyja can actually use ladders and push boxes in the overworld, and in battle, her sword, axe, and bow attacks are all varied in cost and ability, giving her a unique fighting style when compared to the cat, Bam, who spends a lot of time sleeping or buffing his teammates (I promise he’s not useless). On the overworld, he can climb into small spaces, but is incapable of using ladders or pushing boxes, so… you have layered puzzles that require you to use different party members to figure out, sorta like Breath of Fire, where you have the short guy who can kick, and the blue haired guy who can swing his sword. (What? You want me to figure out their names? This isn’t a Breath of Fire review!)
The graphics are unique. It isn’t the most beautiful game I’ve ever seen, but, there are some really good images, especially the campfire scenes. The game is entirely done in 16 bit color, which makes what we do get incredible as far as the pixel art goes. The thing I do want to comment on heavily is the music. The music is very chill. I normally don’t mention much about music, because it’s just background noise, but, in RPGs, especially these turn based ones, music can really make a game feel good. The music in this is just fine for background music, I never once thought, “This music blows.” In fact, the music is good enough, I’m glad that the soundtrack is available, and in 90% of indie games, I would NEVER be excited about the soundtrack.
The unique mechanics in this game are really nice, though, most of the time it’s just a different word to describe the same thing. Frejya has SP, Bam has EP, and they are practically interchangable. Things get a little wonky from the point of getting Michima, who is the robot chick. She has CPU and GPU… CPU does act as HP, but it also acts as a resource that can be spent to launch attacks. This makes her a glass cannon, in a way, because you’re always risking your primary health resource to deal damage, which is novel, and keeps things fun and refreshing. You collect cards, and put certain cards together to create combinations. Those combinations are powerful spells to defeat enemies, and it adds a level of randomness to the game that is really interesting.
My only complaints are just small quality of life complaints, things like not being able to see your hit points while in the items menu, so, you know that you need healing, but, you don’t know if you’re 11 or 6 points low on HP, so you have to swap back out of the item menu to go double check before you use that item that heals for 5 or 10. Another issue that’s similar is that there are these yellow berries that randomly increase one of your two stats, basically HP or MP, but, when you use them in the menu, it doesn’t tell you what it increased! It just… picks one and you either had to know what you had before… or just be comforted in the fact that it worked, we think.
This game is significantly more fun than I expected. I mean, I knew by looking at the little teasers and stuff that the story was going to be lighthearted and fun, but, it’s more complex than just that. Sure, there are moments where someone says something cute and you nod and go on to the next scene or area, but there are more emotional moments than I expected. Characters talking about things that bother them, or, things that are emotional to them.
I suppose it’s a little strong in that department for me, as I’m pretty happy-go-lucky and don’t really deal with situations like the characters do. Basically, the first time you see Bam, he talks about his brother, the second time he mentions his brother, he’s mentioning that he’s dead. So, in that way, it’s kind of jarring how quickly the smart aleck cat goes from, “Look at me, out on an adventure!” to “Holy crap I’m a law student and I have no business being out here and I’m upset about my brother being dead.” right back to “Let’s put some paw into it!” and is back into the fight, but it’s not a huge deal. I always think RPG pacing is off slightly, unless it’s Earthbound, which I NEVER complain about how a 10 year old kid beats up an entire street gang, then goes into a mountain and fights wild bears, before returning to town and fighting 5 police officers in a row with a baseball bat. I mean, THAT’S NOT ANYTHING CRAZY AT ALL.
It’s $14.99 USD, and, I think you’re getting something pretty neat for that. This isn’t a dodgy RPG Maker game, heck, I don’t even think it was made on RPG maker. It’s a fully realized tale about 4 people going on an adventure, with unique battle mechanics and interesting worlds. You can ride a damn hamster! It’s about 10 hours long, so, you aren’t going to lose your life in this RPG, but, you might get something a little more relatable than you’d normally expect.
Disclosure: We received this game for free.
Developed by: Connor O.R.T. Linning (Website)
Published by: Connor O.R.T. Linning (Twitter)