Alliance Alive HD Remastered
An age of darkness has befallen the world. The Dark Current, a cataclysmic event caused by the Daemons’ emergence, has decimated the population and divided land into separate regions, leaving the survivors to be subjugated by Daemonic overlords.
Vivid World: Explore numerous themed realms using ships, animal mounts, and flying machines.
Forged in Battle: Ignite your determination to execute critical attacks and “Awaken” new skills for your characters mid-battle.
Stand Together: Form alliances with various guilds to bolster your strength, while gaining access to new vehicles, areas, magic, and more!
howlongtobeat.com claims 27 and 1/2 hours for main story, and 48 hours for completion.
October 8, 2019
Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, Steam
Alliance Alive is coming to the Nintendo Switch with a clean look. Whether you actively play games with rich stories or dabble here and there, you’ll find an interest in this. Previously for the Nintendo 3DS, NIS America has once again delivered a game with an enthralling tale and a big world to set it in, dood.
Daemons in this world are not servants of the devil, but animal and humanoid variants. Evil creatures known as water devils appear, but they’re simply monsters. Signomancy is the name of the magic used for healing, offensive attacks, or defense.
Fighting monsters and minions is clean and free of blood or graphic images. However, in one scene, a man sacrifices himself for his friends in the hands of the enemy. It’s early on, and nothing is shown, but it’s heavily implied.
I’ve seen d**n and h**l, used a lot. Fortunately, they are the only words used. Lots of Daemons and beastfolk refer to humans as apes.
Sexual content doesn’t exist, except for a slightly small reference to “using a safe word” during an early cut scene.
Drug use doesn’t happen, but occasionally you’ll wander through pubs. One main character celebrates after a huge fight by drinking alcohol for the first time, and he gets drunk.
Race is a big component in the world. Beastfolk, Daemons, and humans all fight each other and maintain prejudices notions that most believe and never question. But Alliance Allive HD Remastered teaches that through discovery, they can see similarities in their fellow neighbors regardless of their race, skin, or influence. Players can take away an important perception that you’ll never know who, or what, people are until you look for yourself.
Everyone knows when you invest in an RPG, you must pay close attention to details such as story, plot devices, stats, order of battle, and item management. No running through levels and hacking things up here. Role-playing is all about strategizing while sitting through fight after fight after fight, enduring lots of grinding to increase your numbers.
To me, a few phases occur, one right after the other, that players go through in role-playing games.
- The beginning. It lasts until the story gets serious. But, you don’t have to worry about knowing how to beat an RPG. Just fight, level up, get to know the skills, maybe dabble in equipment, and if you’re bold, item creation. You know, the fun stuff.
- The grind. The enemies get harder. Elemental vulnerabilities and specific weaknesses start becoming important. If you aimlessly use skill tree points, or refuse using buffs or debuffs, you’ll slowly grow weaker while the enemies grow stronger.
- The halfway. At this point, a big boss comes and wrecks your progression, possibly your day. For Final Fantasy X, that’s the first time you fight Seymour; for Golden Sun, it is the manticore in the desert. For Alliance Alive HD Remastered, it is Grossa. The particulars of the game become unavoidable. If you fall into the trap of making all your characters glass cannons, you’re in for a rude awakening. Every boss from here on in will be painfully difficult, and you’ll wish you gave your growth a little consideration. This part gets everyone, and often requires some grinding. The phase ends at the normal end of the game. However it’s not the last phase.
- Godmode. As you get to the end, players get a chance to go back and do side-quests, gather special items, enter secret dungeons. All the rewards and experience earned turns you into a beast. The real challenge of the game arises for completionists. By the time you get back to the story, it’s a joke.
And I’m here to say: Alliance Alive is no different.
But a formula done right equals huge success. From the start of Alliance Alive HD Remastered, I was hooked. Nine characters intertwining into a narrative involving a dark current separating the world, and total conquest over humans? Alright, I’m listening. No princess in a tower, or lonely child discovering a magical new world, this is a new approach I can get behind.
The opening already set the precedent that the world is separated. I imagine nine characters from each of the four corners finding their way together, joining forces and setting things right. My estimate turned out… half right.
Here are some of my negatives. The nine characters come from a couple corners of the world. Most of them know each other, but the other locations are left for the second half of the tale. So instead of nine world representatives banding together, it’s a small group of misfits.
That’s a personal issue to me, so I don’t hold it against Alliance Alive HD Remastered. Another problem concerns a couple of odd things about characters. Honestly, I wrestled with why they aremain characters. The humans’ and the one Beastperson’s reason for beefing stems from a dying man’s wishes, which I suppose isn’t bad, but there’s no time to feel their struggles or pain. The goal of being free from the Daemons is already established before the game begins, so I feel thrust into saving the world when I don’t know why. And what really confuses me are the eventual Daemons joining the party. Why are the bad guys here? And why are they blindly accepted?
The two Daemons’ important agenda is simply “to know humans better.” All of these issues themselves aren’t deal-breaking, especially since closure is provided, and backstory, after the fact. That’s the pain of it all. The story-telling direction of the game is a consistent spill of motivations and development after I wished to learn them.
That’s all I have to say about that. So now let me regale you more about this awesome game.
Holy cow, for a 3DS game, it is given a lot of love. From the orchestrated soundtrack, right down to the various terrain sounds underfoot, the polish, gameplay, and charm helped me ignore my complaints. Though each main character fell into a stereotype, they wore it well. Character types clashed, or resonated, which made spending time with the characters enjoyable.
The story is delightful. The pacing remains consistent throughout. No location or mission felt out of place or unnecessary. I will say, however, that a mechanical duck-shaped battle suit is an eccentric choice for a twelve year old genius to have for crossing over lava. The satisfaction of finally seeing an entire world eventually unifying, both across the dark barrier and every race, felt surreal as the final challenge commenced. The heroes did just as much a task of saving the world from hatred and bigotry as they did a figure with a god complex.
Race is the biggest theme in the story, but it isn’t overbearing, and the topic is shown instead of told. Humans constantly belittled the oppressive Daemons, as much as the Beastfolks and Daemons considered the humans lowly. But through the unlikely alliance and circumstances of the heroes, each of the nine began to change from within, which spread to everyone they encountered. And so the message Alliance Alive taught is overcoming differences, and setting prejudice aside for the greater good, outshines following laws established hundreds of years ago.
The game play is what separates Alliance Alive from being just another RPG. In terms of skills, magic, weapons, using items, and fantasy plot devices, nothing is new. In fact, what I’m about to say is also not new, but it is something old given a new twist for sure. Remember how the first few Final Fantasy games only leveled up what you used? Alliance Alive went back to that old school system and tweaked it. HP, SP, and weapon skill levels and increase randomly. Experience points or level ups, or numerous stats to juggle are a thing of the past. The game takes care of that, so the player only has to focus on ATT and DEF.
How nice does that sound?
All of the focus is placed on utilizing proper weapons. Some characters work well with certain weapons than others, but all types are available for anyone to use. Properly equipping the right weapon and positioning your attacker, supporter, and defender is key to making fights sweet and short. And to top it all off, the game comes with a turbo mode to make grinding that much easier. Fighting every little enemy is a joy, which only makes my party, and my experience with the game that much better.
The world has much to explore. The open landscapes lead to plenty of discovery. The open sea holds many small islands, and older areas have a small amount of new content to find upon return. Running everywhere can be sad when everything isn’t accessible. One part of the map is completely unreachable before finishing another. It isn’t a deal breaker, since the scripted story had a lot of elements to keep me entertained.
The party will split up occasionally, as the story progresses, offering a few different challenges like stealth, strategy, and contracting. One part involves taking part in a war. You choose how to split up your party, and decide to save people or stop advancements. The outcome remains the same overall, but the better effort yields good rewards. The puzzle elements do not feel thrown in nor overbearing, such as rearranging boxes and traversing multiple ladders up a tower. Traveling is hardly an issue, since they provide multiple mechanics to get around, such as a glider, a boat, and a bunny. The snow bunny is the best way to get around these days.
Take that, Star Ocean 4! Snow bunny is best!!
One other element I haven’t touched on is still important, and rounds out this game. Guilds. At first glance these guilds seem unnecessary, and a weird addition to the world. Why do they need a library guild, two rebel guilds, a sorcery guild, and a blacksmith guild? Why need a unionization at all? For uprising, right? And if the humans are unionizing, why do the Daemons allow it?
I can say I am mostly satisfied continuing through the game and uncovering these mysteries piece by piece. But apart from that, midway through the game you make guild towers across the world, and recruit guild members. Suddenly, those random choices from the beginning of the adventure, to now, make sense. Your actions determine whether special people join your guild or not. These guilds offer your team special coverage while fighting or exploring, and give a place for rest for the party.
And in terms of extra content, Furyu made enough to add double the amount of time it takes to normally run through the game. A new game+ mode appears as well.
Alliance Alive is a great game. The return to form is a great breath of fresh air, and the story is enough to invest in. I could listen to the soundtrack all by itself and add it to my library. The charm of the locations, characters, humor, and heartfelt moments will make this RPG stand out. If you didn’t pick this up for the 3DS, pick it up for the Switch, and do yourself a favor.
Review copy provided by NIS America
+ Stunning visuals, amazing art and graphics.
+ Old style game play with new tweaks for great play
+ Relatively easy, and not long
+ Revamped graphics provide a crisp experience
+ Optional turbo mode to make fighting faster
+ Wonderful soundtrack
- The story is memorable, but has holes
- The learning curve can be tricky
- Not a lot of complete help guides exist for the game on the internet