This retro themed adventure is fun, but the complexity of its gameplay and the reliance on nostalgia makes this best for classic gamers only. They say that sooner or later, everything old is new again. For video game fans, that means going back to the pixelated glory of 8-bit adventure hijinks. Cladun Returns: This Is Sengoku! takes players back for a fresh take on the old school RPG formula. Whether or not it succeeds depends on just how much time and effort you think you're willing to invest in it. Some of the features are fun, like the "Pixel Editor", which lets players customize the look of their characters and items. It's easy to get lost for hours tinkering with the blocky palette to squeeze out as much detail as you can muster. It's also a great step in making the adventure feel more personalized. Of course, the game's biggest draw is in the sense of nostalgia you can't help but feel when you start it up.
The problem is, once that feeling fades, what you're left with is an overly complex adventure with a heavy focus on grinding and repetition. The game's plot feels paper thin, and exists only to give players a reason to keep diving into dungeon after dungeon. That's not counting all the times spent repeating past dungeons because you were missing a key skill to fully explore the area, because you weren't equipped with the right elements to take on a particular baddie, or just because you're a completionist trying to break the current speed run time. There's also all the time you'll have to spend in town, setting up various "Magic Circles", odd arrangements where you have to use your allies as a sort of extra equipment, unlocking boosts and bonuses while acting as a sort of meat shield, absorbing damage during combat in your stead. This is also the only time you're able to swap out weapons, armor, and abilities, which can be particularly frustrating when you're in the middle of a dungeon and you realize you really could have used that nifty staff or hammer you forgot to equip. None of this makes Cladun Returns a bad game, but it does make it a lot more complicated than it ever needs to be.