Nostalgia is an appropriate name for this game, since playing it summons wistful memories of 16-bit RPGs. The game is a sentimental homage to the classics of yesteryear: airships with 40-foot swords attached to their bow, young kids on a world-changing adventure, and level grinding until you’re blue in the face.
Set in a 19th century alternate reality, Nostalgia is what our history might have looked like if magic and supernatural monsters existed. When a fedora-wearing adventurer goes missing, his son Eddie takes up the mantle of globetrotter and tries to pick up his father’s trail. That adventure spans the general foppery of Victorian London to the jazzy avant-gardism of New York.
This wouldn’t be an homage to classic RPGs without lots of random battles. This is about as refined as turn-based combat can get. A turn queue similar to the one in Final Fantasy X helps you keep track of the attack order so you can plan your assault of melee combat, magic, and co-op attacks. If you get tired of the on-foot action, airship battles let you put that giant sword to use. While I liked the idea of fighting off giant dirigibles and managing incoming attacks from all sides, in practice these sequences merely feel like a different form of the regular turn-based combat. I wish developer Matrix Software had mixed it up a bit more.
An RPG this entrenched in classic sensibilities was bound to fall into a few of the traditional tropes. At times, the narrative is as deep as the shallow end of a kiddy pool, and the dungeon exploring and level grinding grow old. Despite these complaints, Nostalgia is a worthy distraction. Anyone with a fondness for old-school RPGs would be remiss to pass it by.