Nostalgia is a look back at a time that never existed, a version of the late 19th century where adventurers cross the world in airships, doing combat with sky pirates and recovering lost treasures. But while the characters are constantly digging through the past, the game designers would be better served by more forward thinking. Instead, they’ve produced a game that’s beautiful and detailed, but unlikely to fully satisfy players.
The story follows Eddie Brown, son of the Indiana Jones-inspired Dr. Gilbert Brown. When Gilbert goes missing on one of his adventures, Eddie takes his father’s airship and sets out looking for him, exploring ancient pyramids, secret bases, and monster-infested sewers along the way.
Fights are divided between standard turn-based battles, where you control Eddie and a party of three other characters, and airship battles where those characters man weapons to fight off aerial combatants. There’s little real difference between the two, besides the fact that ground battles are almost always tremendously easy, while airship fights can be viciously difficult. A few extra factors are thrown in to distinguish the airship fights, such as weapons doing different amounts of damage depending on the ship’s facing and the weather, but mostly, it feels like a wasted opportunity to do something genuinely novel.
While the game is mostly a very traditional RPG, some dungeons involve platformer-style challenges. A trap where you have to control Eddie as he flees from a boulder is a great addition, but another one where you have to keep a mine car on the tracks is frustratingly hard. Dungeons also demand sharp eyes from players, with traps on floors and walls that you can avoid if you spot them in time.
The level of detail makes the game’s oversights even more disappointing. When an NPC dies, Eddie stands by with a static goofy smile on his face that drains the scene of all drama. The AI on the NPCs who periodically follow your party is terrible, especially for healers, who will drop spells on characters at full health, while ignoring wounded allies.
But the game’s biggest strength may be how much material there is. Along with the main quest, you can revisit old dungeons to complete quests and seek out world treasures that can be turned in for gadgets to arm your characters. Doing even a little side-questing will ensure that no other grinding is necessary to buy the best gear and stay level-appropriate. But the experience is a little like devouring a carton of vanilla ice cream: There’s plenty there, but it doesn’t have much flavor.