Live A Live is the Perfect Palate Cleanser Ahead of 2023’s New Releases
In a time where new games launch so frequently, playing all the big new releases has become difficult. For instance, I still haven’t played Triangle Strategy, Elden Ring, and, upsettingly, AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative. Yet, of all the titles I missed out on, Square Enix’s Live A Live is a game that I genuinely wish I found time for. With its upcoming release to PlayStation and Steam, I figured now would be a good time to see what I was missing. And I’m indescribably glad I did.
You probably know what Live A Live is by now. Still, in case you don’t, it was initially a Super Famicom (Japanese Super Nintendo) title that was revolutionary for the time. Inspiring the structure of several other games, such as Octopath Traveler, players progress through a series of mini-narratives across multiple eras in an order of their own choosing, eventually resulting in an epic conclusion. However, while this may not sound so unique by today’s standards, the emphasis on storytelling rather than combat makes this approach distinct.
Because while Live A Live does feature a turn-based battle system, it’s not traditionally pursued. Each scenario you experience has its own take on how gameplay occurs, such as the Present Day lacking exploration, instead solely comprising duels where the protagonist is essentially a Blue Mage, learning crucial skills from his opponents.
On the other hand, you have the Near Future with a world map explorable by a protagonist who can read people’s minds. There’s even an era where you play as a ninja in Japan’s Edo period, emphasizing area movement and stealth. Live A Live’s core combat system is about all that’s shared throughout its eras, yet its utility and contexts differ to deliver a unique adventure no matter which era you choose.
And what ensures the memorability and impact of these seemingly contained storylines is how brief they are. With most eras only taking a few hours at maximum, nothing ever overstays its welcome.
Honestly, after playing so many titles demanding significant time investments, Live A Live is just the palate cleanser I needed before approaching more of this year’s even bigger releases. And I think this can apply to many of you, too. Ahead of Final Fantasy XVI, Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and so much more, spending two or so dozen hours on a compact game may be in order.
Moreover, while this should be evident, fewer gameplay hours do not mean a less effective experience. Trust me, Live A Live is nothing if not effective, thanks to how it tackles its character relationships and lessons in stride. Further, if that isn’t enough, this masterful soundtrack will stick with you for a long, long while.
Helmed by the legendary Yoko Shimomura of Kingdom Hearts fame, every era is so expertly envisioned through sound alone, to a degree where it’s no exaggeration to say that Live A Live contains one of the best soundtracks in all of gaming.
As a not technically demanding title, this port doesn’t mean much other than reaching a larger audience. Still, if you intend on purchasing this for PlayStation, you can look forward to acquiring a bunch of trophies. As a trophy fiend myself, I always have a fun time achieving them, and the ones in Live A Live don’t seem all that demanding.
Live A Live is a one-of-a-kind JRPG that wholeheartedly wears its strengths on its sleeve, never feeling the need to artificially pad itself out for diluted effect. Even someone like me, who loves lengthy, hundred-hour-long adventures, can’t help but appreciate this adventure.
You don’t often see such an old game meld with newer crowds so seamlessly; that alone should give you an idea of how special this experience is. Even if every era may not be your tea, I’d go so far as to call Live A Live a must-play JRPG. Now that it’s available on more platforms, this resurged classic will hopefully gain the additional fans it deserves.
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