Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling from Dangen Entertainment and Moonsprout Games is an RPG that shares a ton of similarities to the Paper Mario franchise – in a good way! Learn more in our Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling review!
Bug Fables is an adventure RPG following three charming heroes, Vi, Kabbu, and Leif, as they embark on an epic quest in Bugaria in search of treasure and immortality. The game combines colorful platforming with the heroes’ unique field abilities as they explore a wide variety of areas in the kingdom. Battles are turn-based and make use of action commands that can enhance attacks and defend.
Bug Fables is an original RPG that, at first sight, makes it very clear it has taken some inspiration from the beloved Paper Mario franchise – particularly Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door on Nintendo Gamecube. I’m here to tell you that, while that is certainly correct, the team has managed to infuse this one with its own identity. Follow Vi, a cheerful bee, Kabbu, a strong beetle, and Leif, a mysterious mantis, in their quest through the land of Bugaria in search of the Everlasting Sapling, which grants eternal strength and youth to whoever possesses it.
I’d like to mention right now that I liked how everything in this world is bug-related. It was refreshing to see that much detail going into the world and the lore of this game. This is also applied to the items as well as the recipes that can be obtained or crafted, which are also bug-related, with leaves, honey, and other stuff.
Bug Fables being an RPG, expect to take on many battles in this game. The battle system is turn-based, and you’ll have to interact with the game during a battle, which is something that reminded me of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), as well as to what is done by the Paper Mario series. Each character has its own attacks, and so do enemies, which is why you’ll need to complete short mini-games to maximize their effectiveness. You will also need to press a button at the right time when one of your characters is being attacked so that you can partially – or totally – block damage.
There is also a little strategy required in fights since each character has a special perk attached to its fighting style. For instance, Vi the bee can attack flying enemies with her beemerang, which falls on the ground when they’re hit. Since the other characters can’t hit flying enemies, Vi is very important for this. Kabbu the beetle has the ability of damaging armored enemies so that they can be attacked by the other characters. After each level up, one out of three boosts can be selected: more HP for each character, more TP to use skills in combat, or a bigger medals capacity. Medals are passive or active perks that can be equipped either to the whole team or to a single character that gives instant bonuses such as more HP, poison resistance, or even a harder game mode.
As I progressed through the chapters and the story, I realized how much I like each of the main characters’ personalities. Vi, for instance, is upbeat, gets angry easily, and won’t do anything if a reward is not involved in return. Leif is mysterious and down to earth. Kabbu feels a bit timid but is a reliable character. Watching their relationship grow as the game progresses was fun to experience.
Bug Fables’ art style is superb. It really looks like this game was fully-hand drawn and feels like watching a paper collage come to life. The colors are lively, and I also liked the cartoonish look and feel of the interface and menus. Even the battle transition is good. The soundtrack was also great to listen too, and I particularly enjoyed the battle theme, which is really close to the tutorial/battle theme of Paper Mario on the Nintendo GameCube.
However, not everything is perfect in Bug Fables. There are moments when water must be frozen by Leif and then moved to a specific place by Kabbu. It begins by being fairly straightforward in the first chapter, but as the game advances, it requires precision moving on greater distances, and one false move means that it must be redone from the beginning. Those platforming sequences felt a bit unnecessary.
Bug Fables is a great RPG that takes inspiration from the Paper Mario franchise but has enough charm and identity to hopefully have it become its own series. The battle system was fun, and I liked reaching each new city, watching the lively cast coming closer together. Encountering new enemies was fun too, making this a game I recommend you check out on PlayStation 4!
This Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Dangen Entertainement.