Best Indie Games of 2017 – #3: Rakuen

Beautiful combat free adventure Rakuen enchants its way to third place.

Rakuen is a story about a little Boy who lives in the hospital. His mother reads to him everyday from his favorite storybook, which is about a tribal child living in a fantasy world called Morizora’s Forest. One day the child wakes up to find that everyone in his tribe has disappeared. He soon learns that in order to escape danger, his tribe sailed away to a paradise isle called Rakuen.

You’ll find no combat in this brilliant RPG-Maker XP powered gem.  Instead, puzzle solving and story are the main focus.  As such, the rewards you unlock for completing quests and puzzles develop the selfless personality of the main character – for example, generally making your friends happy and realising their dreams instead of the standard +1 body armour.

Rakuen looks about as great as is possible for a sprite based game.  Somehow it feels unique and yet nostalgic, at times being visually quite similar to classics such as Chrono Trigger and at other times enthralling with original art work.

Rakuen

Developer Laura Shigihara’s experience with composing musical scores is obvious in Rakuen.  Having composed music for, among others, World of Warcraft and Minecraft, her finest work can be found here.  Each piece is beautiful, fitting to the story and – I’ll admit – tear jerking.  It’s worth noting that all 52 pieces of music can be purchased either with the game or by itself.  Even if you’re not interested in playing through the game itself, the quality, originality and beauty of these songs makes this a great purchase.

Although providing a relatively short experience at around 10 – 15 hours of gameplay, each one is packed with emotion, adventure and somehow develops a bond between the player and the cute little sprite representations of the characters.  I’ve not yet heard of anyone managing to complete Rakuen without shedding a few tears, and that’s one of the reasons it’s so high on our list.  It’s getting rarer for a game’s story to have such an impact on players, however for Rakuen this success is clear on Steam with an overwhelmingly positive rating.

You can pick up Rakuen on Steam now with 35% off, for £4.54 / $6.10.  It’s also available as a bundle with the wonderful soundtrack with 49% off, for £7.08 / $9.50.

If you’re more a fan of horror and jump scares than emotional adventures, check out the fourth best game of 2017 – Deceit.  Tomorrow, we’ll be down to the final two in our list!  Do you agree with our picks so far?