Directed by Mana series veteran and Mother 3 producer Shinichi Kameoka, EGGLIA Rebirth is Brownies’ second title to release on the Nintendo Switch and has somewhat of an all-star development team. In its credits are names such as Michio Okamiya (Romancing Saga 3, Final Fantasy IX), Yoko Shimomura (Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy XV), and Yoshitaka Hirota (Klonoa, Shadow Hearts). While it doesn’t hit the lofty highs of its creators’ back catalogues, it’s nevertheless an enjoyable experience for what it offers.
EGGLIA Rebirth opens with a short cutscene, introducing us to the player character suspended in a beautiful underwater setting. I’m guessing this is a representation of his subconscious thoughts rather than a snorkeling excursion gone wrong, as he ends up falling out of the sky a moment later. Oceans aren’t commonly found above the skyline, but perhaps the world of Egglia likes it that way.
Our hero is soon discovered by a wandering elf named Robin and her faerie companion, Marigold. After discovering that the main character has no memories other than his name, which is Chabo by default, Robin gives us some brief exposition about how the world was shattered and sealed away into niebel eggs. These eggs are very durable, strong enough that only the raw power of a Redcap goblin can break them open. Conveniently, Chabo is a Redcap, so it falls to him to track these eggs down and restore the world to its former state. Robin and Marigold might want to reconsider how trusting they are of total strangers, but maybe stranger danger isn’t a big concern when the only part of the world that wasn’t sealed away is the empty field they’re standing in.
EGGLIA Rebirth’s intro sequence may be short and snappy, but it’s well paced without feeling rushed. The ensuing first few levels introduce us to the standard flow of gameplay, and it sticks to this formula quite rigidly: receive an egg, hatch the egg, restore a new locale on the world map, and explore said area. It’s this repeated sequence that drives most, if not all of your progress through the main questline. With the foundations of the narrative established, Chabo is given his first niebel egg and sets out to begin his adventure.
The empty field that Chabo lands in at the beginning of the game ends up being built into the player’s base town, and eventually accrues a handful of useful facilities. As you progress the story, you’ll gain access to an item shop, a carpenter for crafting furniture for your house, a builder to make your house bigger and to provide homes for prospective tenants, and more. The default name for the town is “My Town.” I’d personally have preferred a better placeholder name, but that’s only a minor issue, as it can be changed as soon as you start setting things up, or anytime later from the main menu.
There are many varied races inhabiting Egglia, from Brownies and Imps to the canine Wolks, and you’ll recruit two characters from each respective race as they’re introduced. It’s a little bit like Noah’s Ark in that aspect, albeit in reverse; the metaphorical flood has already happened and, as Chabo restores each part of the world, he slowly fills My Town back up with what was once lost. Newly recruited characters each fulfil a role from the bevy of different gameplay systems, whether that be as shopkeepers or joining Chabo as a Companion during quests.
Before we get into the main portion of the gameplay, there’s a bit of an elephant in the room that should be addressed: EGGLIA Rebirth is a port of EGGLIA Legend of the Redcap, a 2017 mobile game. Thankfully, this premium port doesn’t contain even a hint of those ever-pesky microtransactions. Being a mobile port isn’t an inherent negative, but EGGLIA Rebirth’s core gameplay loop is fairly indicative of its humble roots despite its reasonable retail price and lack of in-game purchases.
The combat of EGGLIA is comparable to an SRPG at first glance, but the tactics are mostly based on the whims of a dice roll. Fields are split into hexagonal panels, with each pip of the dice representing how many tiles Chabo can move. There are ways to influence the outcome, such as skills that grant +1 or +2 to dice rolls, but otherwise you’re really at the mercy of the roll. Moving around maps doesn’t develop any further than that, either; it can be most vexing in later levels to get a Game Over because you rolled a 1 three turns in a row and got overwhelmed by enemies. It also feels a bit arbitrary in the earlier levels when there are few threats to avoid and the dice rolls end up being the biggest challenge.
What the dice system does do well, though, is create situations where the player must weigh up their choice of actions. Alongside the enemies dotted around the maps are gathering spots, pits that spawn more foes, and environmental hazards such as poison and fire. The RNG-reliant nature of combat means you’ll be assessing both Chabo’s and the enemy’s movement range per turn; some might say it’s a simple way to add complexity to an otherwise banal system, but others will enjoy the change from the usual predictability. It certainly keeps you on your toes.
There are two more systems to touch on with regards to combat: the Companions and Spirits. Companions’ primary purpose is aiding with resource gathering, while Spirits provide Chabo with skills and stat bonuses during combat. You can take two Companions with you from your roster of townsfolk, but their function is more like a passive skill as they don’t physically join you on the field. When a Companion’s Stamina reaches zero they can no longer gather, but it can be restored with Elixirs or the passing of real-world time. Yes, EGGLIA Rebirth has timers; this isn’t the only example, but they’re really not all that intrusive. There are consumables for the other time-reliant things as well, such as town-related tasks and summoning Spirits, so you can deal with them however you choose to.
If the Companions are your passive skills, then the Spirits are your active skills and “gear.” They each level up independently, increasing their base stats and skill levels as they improve. Spirits are assigned a single element of either Fire, Wind, Water, Light or Dark, which counteract each other in typical rock-paper-scissors fashion. Their base stats and elemental affinities directly contribute to Chabo’s while exploring, so leveling your Spirits is important for keeping him battle-ready.
Every Spirit has both an Attack and Support skill but can only be deployed with one or the other. It’s usually most effective to have at least two of your assigned Spirits with Attack skills, preferably of an element that’s strong against the current stage’s foes, but it’s fun to mix and match to find what suits you best. Alongside their Attack and Support skills, Spirits also have passive Link skills which are activated when deployed alongside their pals. I rarely got the Spirits required for the Link bonuses, but judging from their tooltips the effects can be very helpful.
The gacha system for acquiring Spirits, while definitely still a gacha system at its core, is presented in quite a novel way. You’ll be using the materials gathered while exploring to prepare meals, which in turn entice the Spirits to come and visit. Select a meal from the menu, wait for the timer to count down, and ta-da! A Spirit will join you. The Spirits themselves are all beautifully designed, and while some of their visuals can be a little samey, it’s more in a thematic sense than lacking in individuality.
Chabo will find himself exploring a decent variety of locales while fulfilling his duty as Eggsecutive Egg Hatcher (I’ve allowed myself one egg-based pun for this review), and in many of the levels he’ll encounter new friendly faces. The storyline for each level is usually based around assisting these characters in some way, and once you’ve eased their woes they’ll come and join you as a resident in My Town. Each character is unique and brimming with personality, which is a commendable feat given how many there are. Art Director Shinichi Kameoka did a wonderful job of bringing the different races and Spirits of Egglia to life; his trademark whimsical style really shines in EGGLIA’s fairytale setting.
Aside from the art style, perhaps the biggest throwback to Kameoka’s previous work is the world map; it’s very similar to Legend of Mana, both in its visuals and functionality. Each newly-unlocked level has a distinctive icon which is placed on the overworld grid, but unlike Legend of Mana there is no real reason to worry about where you put them. The art team did a great job of making each icon recognisable, and even towards the end of the game I could tell which area was which with just a quick glance. You can even rearrange the locations after placing them by using a consumable item.
The gameplay loop of EGGLIA may be a bit underwhelming, but the story is definitely enjoyable. It can often feel more like a slice-of-life game than one where we’re tasked with restoring the entire world, but there are enough doom-and-gloom stories out there, and that just ain’t what EGGLIA is. Some of the characters are very memorable, too, with my personal favourites being the twin Queens of Capitalism Baba and Yaga. They have some very fun scenes, mostly centred around getting rich quick, and you often feel like they’re just a hair away from being the villains.
Many of the other characters are very endearing, too, so while the overarching narrative might be a bit tepid, the conversations that drive it are entertaining enough to keep you engaged. I did notice, however, that while the writing is very tight and snappy in the main portions of the game, it loses its polish in the newly added postgame scenarios. The actual storylines themselves remain compelling but become quite riddled with typos, and sometimes the localisation feels like it’s not accurately conveying the character’s original intent.
In stark contrast to this are the constant fetch quests handed out by your townsfolk. I found these to be borderline disrespectful to the player, as they’re relentless in their consistency. I think this is one of the areas where EGGLIA’s mobile past really drags it down as a console title. We have high standards for optional content these days, so repeatedly asking for 12 logs of varying tiers is going to wear thin very quickly.
Considering Robin is portrayed as this altruistic maiden of peace and love, she’s certainly demanding with her daily gifts. I raised my eyebrow slightly while presenting her with gifts such as pianos, fountains and… steam trains. What’s worse is that it’s sometimes a requirement to complete these side tasks before you can move on with the story quests, not only bringing the pacing to a screeching halt but doing so in such an uninspiring way.
Luckily, my dear Baba and Yaga run a shop, so you can at least buy the quest materials; you’ll definitely be needing their services for quests that require crafted items. That is, so long as their rotating stock list lets you actually buy what you need. While their saleable inventory contains every item you’ve found up to that point, there is always one category of items per day that you just cannot buy. For whatever other flaws EGGLIA has, the fetch quests were definitely the most egregious for me. I also found some bizarre moments with post-game story quests where I just couldn’t get them to trigger. There are some obscure requirements to progress the later questlines, and it made them a chore to get through despite how much I enjoyed their plots.
Now from some of the worst moments to some of the best, let’s talk about the music and sound design. I was quite undecided in the first hour or so what my thoughts were with regards to the music; the game opens with a really beautiful orchestrated piece, yet some of the following tracks are a little dull. They aren’t bad compositions per se, but their issue comes down to how the game uses them. For example, the main town theme is a jovial and lighthearted little romp, but it starts over from the beginning any time the screen transitions. In the same vein, some of the tracks used while exploring levels are just too short. One in particular that’s played a lot in the earlier stages of the game is about 32 counts long and gets old very quickly.
Luckily, both of these negatives are more than addressed as you progress in the game. Characters have wonderfully catchy theme tunes, a personal favourite being Dunkel the Dwarf’s theme, and the exploration tracks improve vastly in their length and quality. There are some really enjoyable tracks all in all, and both Yoko Shimomura and Yoshitaka Hirota should be given due credit for capturing the world of Egglia’s essence consistently through their compositions. Later on in the game, during some more poignant story moments, the music helps to inspire some beautiful emotional responses.
Overall, EGGLIA Rebirth is a flawed but captivating game. It’s a bit erratic with its quality, but you can really feel the passion the developers have for their work. While its general structure in gameplay might not appeal to everyone, EGGLIA is a solid choice for people whose tastes tend to lean towards daily gameplay and other typically mobile conventions. It’s obviously designed to be played long-term, as is made clear by the fact I’d barely made a dent in the completion list by the time I’d finished the Switch-exclusive content. Certain features don’t come together as effectively as they were perhaps intended to, such as the combat and side quests, but the undeniable old-school charm still shines through.
You get a whole lot of game for the humble price tag, and I’m very interested to see what projects we see from Brownies in the future. EGGLIA Rebirth would be a very easy recommendation with some tweaking and a few overhauls to its weaker systems, but even in its current form there’s still plenty to enjoy.