Riviera's a convention-breaking fantasy RPG in which you play a fallen angel who teams up with four women (remember it's a fantasy) to prevent demons from invading the world. The combat system is fresh, if a bit uncooperative. And the game constantly moves forward, although some would say it's because it doesn't let you explore the environments on your own - each screen has several things you can look at and up to four directions you can go and that's it. No moving around , you just click the button and your guy does the moving on his own. The hands-off approach left us wanting more control over the characters, especially when it came to the rigid combat system.
You choose four items to use for each fight, and they determine what attacks you can use. If you bring, say, a broadsword then whoever knows how to handle a broadsword will be able to use that weapon to take broadsword-sized hunks out of your enemies. If you bring four pink ribbons to the fight, you'll be stuck trying to give the enemy cute looks to death. Also, not everyone will know how to use every weapon, and to limit things even further, only three people to fight at a time. But the real humdinger is that you can't select which enemy to attack. Your target depends on the weapon you attack with no matter how illogical that target may be.
Above: We are about to get hit with a poison arrow trap because we just can't remember which button is triangle quickly enough
Pick the right set of demon crushing equipment and you'll earn an S rank at the end of the battle. Pat yourself on the back. After each fight you get a score, from C (you suck) to S (you're the best). The scores reward you with coveted TP points. Like we mentioned, there are only a few things to do on most exploration screens, and most areas are simply made up of a handful of screens linked together. However, instead of being able to simply click through every explorable thing in the game, TP points are used to look at things that might be useful. We liked having to choose whether we looked at the big flower or the strange mushroom without knowing what the outcome would be. (Hint: big flower restores all your hp). Along with the TP, you frequently have to play one of several reaction based mini-games that test your skill with a PSP for everything from avoiding a traps to throwing rocks accurately.
People who like to cheat and load their game to try every option will have a hard time because you can only save in preset, between-area checkpoints. Although the checkpoints are frequent enough to keep it from being a hassle to load a game, there are so many choices packed in that it isn't practical to get them all on your first run through the game. The unusual exploration gameplay combined with the limited options in the combat system made the choices we made feel significant. Riviera feels like an RPG in more than just the sense that numbers appear over the heads of the bad guys you hit, which is becoming harder and harder to find these days. On the other hand, there will be times you just want to yell at a character to go and get the firesword you forgot to pull out for the fight and hit the big gorilla with it, but there just isn't an option to do that.