The debut feature from the Indian studio Nodding Heads Games is a reliable action platformer based on the mythology of their country.
One of the legends of Hindu mythology included in Raji: An Ancient Epic tells that the sage Kashiapa, creator of humanity, once offered to grant wishes to his wives Kadru and Vinata to show them his affection. Kadru asked to be the mother of a thousand children; for Vinata, on the other hand, one was enough as long as it was more powerful than all of her sister’s. Kashiapa agreed, and Kadru gave birth to a thousand eggs, which eventually hatched into serpentine creatures known as the Naga. Meanwhile, Vinata had given birth to two eggs, but their hatching was being delayed and she became jealous when she saw Kadru’s progeny. So she decided to open one ahead of time.
From him came Aruna, a creature with half-formed bird features because her mother had prematurely interrupted the pregnancy. The story continues with a curse, Vinata’s enslavement and the subsequent arrival of Garuda, a fully formed younger brother who would end up rivaling the Naga lineage. But the most important part for us today is that of Aruna, because even though An Ancient Epic manages to dazzle in some moments – as Aruna did in other legends despite that handicap – in others it leaves evidence of insufficient incubation. Something that ranges from unpolished technical details or untapped playable mechanics to anti-climatic resolutions of an adventure that is shortened more than necessary and fails to be the “epic” that its title proclaims.
The positive part is that, even with those, it does manage to do enough things well to join the not too long list of recommended indies if we are looking for an action platform reminiscent of Prince of Persia. Preceded by an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign and the reluctance of various publishers to take over due to Nodding Heads Games’ status as a first-time studio and the Indian industry’s greater orientation to the mobile market than the console market, the game was on the brink of cancellation and was saved in extremis by one of the grants offered by Epic Games to projects developed with the Unreal Engine. Ironically, despite this, it has landed first on Switch, although it is a temporary exclusive before its arrival on PC, PS4 and One on October 15.