Second chances are the most dramatically pleasing chances. Getting it right the first time is the best and least stressful outcome, of course, but the laws of good narrative can be jerks. Renaine’s first run at Kickstarter came up short but a lot of work and a second attempt later has seen much better results. The game launched on April 4 with a much lower goal than the original campaign and Octosoft was at PAX East with a booth showcasing the new demo and pushing the Kickstarter campaign. The combination of efforts (plus a spot on Kickstarter’s front page) has paid off, with Renaine having blown past its goal in three days and now being just a tiny bit shy of the original campaign’s target.
Aine is the Phoenix Knight, and she can’t die. Or rather, like her namesake, she can be taken down but will be continually reborn back at the start, ready to try again. Thankfully the game description says she’s “blessed” with this ability, avoiding the ridiculous trope of the “I just want to die” immortal, but endless rebirth doesn’t make her quest to defeat the Dragon and avenge her friend Ren any easier. Renaine is a randomized semi-roguelike action platformer where each level is comprised of hand-built parts strung together randomly. The starting village is filled with quirky individuals, some with quests and others just there to be entertaining, and while you’re not guaranteed to find what they need on a single run if you go around enough it’s bound to turn up eventually.
While the action was already good in the original demo, whether you wanted to take your time walking through the levels slashing and jumping on enemies or aiming for a speed-run, the new version has quite a few additions, changes, and upgrades. The town has been remodeled with a more complicated underworld area and a number of new villagers offering side-quests, the reward for completing quests has been added in the form of equipable emblems that enhance Aine’s abilities, the second of the three areas has seen a major overhaul with entire chunks of the level now moving when you hit a switch, and the area boss is all-new and much more impressive. Even the already-strong soundtrack got an upgrade, with the jazzy tune getting remixed for the second area complete with vocals that would be right at home on a Sega racing arcade game. On top of all that the already-colorful art got a major boost in the animation, and there are a number of talented pixel-artists contributing to Renaine’s unique, vibrant style.
As nice as a PAX East booth is, there’s no need to take my word for it. The demo is available at itch.io and linked off the campaign page, and worth a nice evening’s play. It’s just like being at PAX except your feet survive the experience and there’s no waiting in line.