Athenian Rhapsody

Posted:  May 14, 2024
SDHQ BUILD SCORE: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
SDHQ CONTENT SCORE: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarHalf Star
Cloud Saves

Review

Athenian Rhapsody was provided by Nico Papalia / Top Hat Studios for review. Thank you!

If you looked at Athenian Rhapsody and thought about Undertale, you aren't alone. It reeks of a similar art style, with great humor pushed throughout character designs, dialog, and gameplay, and it feels overwhelmingly unique. It's hard not to make comparisons with all the similarities they share. One may even think this could be a "ripoff" of the breakout hit, but don't let this fool you. Athenian Rhapsody is filled with charm, hilarious moments, a great gameplay loop, and a very unique feature that sets it apart from others in the genre, making it well worth your time.

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Athenian Rhapsody oozes with charm the second you start the game. The first thing you do is take a quiz where you have to answer a slew of questions like how you would react if a teacher accused you of cheating on an exam or your favorite snack or what kind of object you would be if you weren't human. You know, the usual questions, and then you are plopped down into Athens. The world has gotten greedy and feels the desire to farm EXP, which comes from killing others, and that means hurting others. Not everyone feels this way though, a lot of people want to go back to the old ways of just being friends with everyone. And this is where you come in.

The story shines through the crazy characters, weird scenarios, and hilarious conversations you will have. I fondly recall a lot of my random conversations with people throughout the world, like Giga Franklin trying to wow the crowd of clowns, a random man inviting me to bring a friend to eat dinner, a devil named Horatio telling me his wife left him, and a random standing cat that is asking me who drank their "oinjuice." There are so many different enemies and situations to get into, and all of them feel enjoyable and entertaining.

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This is one of the few games where I wanted to stop and talk to everyone I could. Seeing what everyone would say was intriguing and hilarious, and I was all here for it. The events throughout the game were all interesting to some degree, but what makes them feel even more unique is how your playthroughs are recorded.

Athenian Rhapsody records your playthrough and saves it as a "Rhapsody," which can be viewed anytime. You can see exactly how your playthrough went and every decision, action, and event. There's enough variety so that no two Rhapsodies are alike, and you can share them with friends to see how they played the game. But you will also be able to combine them to create new Rhapsodies, which can make them more exciting and complex, access special timed in-game event adventures, and more. I have never seen a game with a mechanic like this, and while I didn't get to explore it deeply, I love the concept and look forward to testing it out more when I share my Rhapsody with friends.

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The gameplay is very similar to games like Earthbound and Undertale, but with the humor and weirdness cranked up significantly higher. You run around the world, talking to people, fighting individuals, and secrets to discover. The combat is very similar to Undertale, where you can choose to fight or befriend, and when the enemy is attacking, you will play a mini-game to avoid their attack. The mini-games are very unique across all the characters you can fight, so no two enemies feel the same. And yes, the game does have multiple endings, depending on what you do throughout.

I love that the game doesn't have a definitive direction, either. It feels very open regarding the decisions you can make, which partners you want to take with you, and what events you want to follow through with and trigger. This makes the whole Rhapsody system feel even more meaningful since what you do is logged completely.

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Now, I have some minor issues, like limited backpack space and some mini-games being extremely difficult, but these are minor (and you can turn on "Chill Mode" to ease up on some of these). And to top it all off, it's perfect for playing on the Steam Deck.

Athenian Rhapsody - Steam Deck Performance

There isn't much to be said about Athenian Rhapsody on the Steam Deck since it runs flawlessly! Just booting into the game, we will get 60 FPS and a 6W - 7W battery drain, giving you the maximum battery life you could get while playing a game! I can't say much more, but it's a perfect experience.

Accessibility

As for the settings, well, there really aren't many, but you don't need many to begin with. You can turn on "Chill Mode" to make battles easier; there's a help area where if you have a specific question listed, it will give you some information and a way to toggle auto running, menu sound effects, and if you show your armor on the player.

The game doesn't technically support 16:10 resolutions, but the game will stretch to cover the top and bottom bars. There will be black bars on the left and right side though, due to the aspect ratio it uses, but it isn't distracting. There are cloud saves and controller support. There are no HDR settings.

Conclusion

At PAX East 2023 and 2024, I got to meet the developer, Nico Papalia, and talk to him a lot about Athenian Rhapsody. It was one of my favorite games at the event, and it's wonderful seeing how it has turned out. The characters, world, and story are hilarious and have turned me into someone who seeks out each person to see what they say. The gameplay is very similar to Undertale, which isn't a bad thing, and while it isn't perfect, the issues are minor when compared to just how wonderful the game is.

As for playing on the Steam Deck, it is perfect. It runs at 60 FPS, drains at 7W max, and gives us almost the maximum battery life the Deck possibly could. If you are a fan of Earthbound, Undertale, or just want a comedic game, this is a must-have to add to your libraries, and I highly recommend it!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Athenian Rhapsody is a phenomenal Undertale-esque experience that is hilarious, unique, and runs so well on the Steam Deck.

Content

Gameplay: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarNo Star
Graphics: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarHalf Star
Story: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarHalf Star
Sound: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarNo Star
Fun Factor: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarHalf Star

Build Score

Performance: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
VISUALS: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Stability: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Controls: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Battery: 
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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