Note: Review Code provided by Degica Games.
This game has been under my radar since I first discovered it long ago (2018 most likely). The adorable protagonist and the quirky setup drew me in from the start. Then the developers dropped the “Y” word when I asked out of curiosity and I knew this was a game I had to check out. December 2019 came and the wait was finally over. Let us find out if it was worth the wait as we take a look at Virgo vs The Zodiac, developed by Moonana and published by Degica Games.
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, RPG, Sci-Fi (And some SHMUP action).
Themes: Astronomy, Astronomy, Yuri
Length: 25-30+ hours (1st Playthrough)
Plot Summary: In this galaxy where every action means a reaction, Virgo, the Holy Queen, often called Dreadful Queen by heretics, is on a mission. throughout her journey she will bring mayhem to the Zodiac Realms and leave a trail of stardust on the way, all to fit her excessively righteous worldview in her quest to reclaim the Golden Age, a period of peace, symmetry and balance, or so she thinks.
The most important thing before buying this game is to be as curious as possible. Expect the unexpected. Give it time and it will most certainly surprise many players.
The best way to explain what to expect without giving anything away is the following: Think of Virgo vs the Zodiac as “Disgaea X Makai Kingdom X Shadow Hearts X Mario and Luigi X Monty Python”. Clearly this title is the work of mad geniuses. The denizens of this universe will have some players potentially asking “Is Virgo really the illogical one here?” She is a self-righteous cutie on a mission across multiple worlds ruled by her fellow Zodiacs to restore the universe to “dem glory days” with little to no patience for heretics or others who disrespect the few allies she cares for (Not counting party members with their own agendas). She is similar to the anti-heroes of NIS games as how twisted they are depends on specific choices made by players, greatly influencing which ending they get. Like the games and show the game has a quirky sense of humor that changes from light to dark at the drop of a dime. It knows when to be funny or serious just like the games I mentioned and others I have praised over the years.
Exploration is straightforward in each world Virgo and “Friends” invade (Let us not kid ourselves). Interacting with denizens, objects, taking optional side-quests (Or refusing them. Up to you). Classic WRPG/JRPG fare (Again it all looks simple on the surface).
The presentation is mostly 8-bit with a dash of 16-bit. Having said that do not let this mean the graphics are simplistic. On the contrary, it takes the 8-bit and gives it a cinematic flair. With each new world Virgo visits, allies she meets and foes she faces more life is shown despite her journey leaving behind complete chaos most of the time. Every single object that can be interacted with has something to say about the universe, the culture of the world or a quick joke. Every snowman, pumpkin, bookshelf, gravestone, crystal, snack, goddess statue etc. has a different description or something to say. That or a consumable item or trap. Whether there are factual information applicable to our Solar System is hard to say. Maybe, maybe not. The soundtrack is quite good, giving each world and encounter more life than they already have.
On to battles. The short description is time based attack and defense ala the Judgment Ring from the Shadow Hearts series. The long description is the following. The outcome of every offensive and defensive turn is primarily determined by how good players are at hitting the sweet spot/s in the circles, bars, directional inputs, clocks and more. Many battles can end quickly for both sides. There are additional factors like buffs, debuffs and status ailments, certainly but the deciding factor between victory and defeat most of the time is how good the player’s timing is. The only changes made in difficulty is how strong the enemies are and how big the sweet spot is. The speed of the dial hardly changes regardless of difficulty. Some attacks are easier to pull off perfectly than others but most require laser focused precision on the sweet spot, otherwise your attack will not hit as hard or you will take heavy damage and miss the chance to counterattack.
Another factor is the Quality Triangle. Effectiveness of attack and defense is determined by three elements/qualities: Ambition (Purple), Versatility (Green) and Patience (Red). Allie and foes will carry equipment or armor in one or more of these colors, effecting how much damage can be dealt or taken. The three main healing items (Tea, Coffee and Lemonade) heal and give temporary boosts based on their color. There are other factors but these are the key ones to keep track of in combat.
Before embarking to other worlds on your trusty zeppelin players are asked to pick between the safe and dangerous routes. The latter leads to a vertical shoot-em-up stage against space pirates and foragers. The game already being challenging of course they are bullet hell stages. The daring are free to challenge these stages if they so wish. On the lighter side there are some less hectic mini-games.
As mentioned the “Y” word was brought up when I asked. Virgo has a girlfriend and there are other lesbians in the universe. Like the rest of the cast they range from the amicable, rational and insane. Speaking of Virgo’s honey (Who she praises, just not as much in person) I have a gut feeling the developers were unintentionally thinking of yours truly when designing her appearance and personality. Thank you Moonana for her. The ladies are of course all quite relevant.
Overall Virgo vs The Zodiac is an RPG that looks simple on the surface but greatly rewards the intrigued with a fascinating world full of quirky and compelling characters, an excellent use of 8 bit to 16 bit graphics, a very nice soundtrack and challenging combat. Recommended to players looking for something different.
Get the game on Steam. Hopefully console ports (especially on the Nintendo Switch) are planned for the near future.