Indie developers have produced some notable entries in the classic strategy JRPG genre. In some, the attempts can be surface level, but others understand the nuances and mechanics that make this genre memorable. Sadly, the CooCooSqueaky Games-developed Tears of Avia doesn’t fully deliver on the promise of an epic adventure that we’ll be talking about for years. However, it is a lot more than other games have attempted, but it doesn’t seem like they knew exactly what to do after the foundation.
Tears of Avia doesn’t waste much time introducing you to the heroes and the reason for your adventure. The undead has begun to attack your village after a mysterious object known as a Tear appeared close by. After investigating, you learn that an evil demon presence is approaching, and you play a huge role in the fate of the region. It’s now up to you and a group of heroes to journey out to collect these Tears and save the world.
The game really attempts to sell the friendship between these characters. While they often disagree on certain things, there’s really not much interaction between them. A strange choice was making the party size force you to leave one of the characters out for some of the adventures. This just had me not really care about the odd party member out and feel no connection to them during story dialogue.
However, the writing is much better than I expected, and even though the personalities of the characters were basic tropes, it was okay. This might have a lot to do with Japanese audio tracks and great character illustrations. I just found them all to be so generically interesting that I was okay with the flimsy plot and predictable outcome.
It’s incredibly difficult to feel attached to this adventure because it’s impossible to care about the world around you. Players take on missions from a portal, but you have no idea or sense of direction as you simply move from one fight to the next. Most of the battles have no dialogue before them; you are pretty much on a linear path to each Tear.
I disliked this approach because the developer seemed to put so much effort into creating a world that they do nothing with. Even the HUB where you purchase things and upgrade characters is an enormous area with nothing going on. There are copy and pasted NPCs you can interact with scattered about, but I feel like I became lost way too often in this village, which is the only place that you can explore.
The game’s battles held so much promise in the first hour, but some balance issues need to be addressed for every fight after the first Tear. Basically, you level up extremely fast. It’s possible to power level up your characters even quicker if you have them attack that hits a large group of enemies and just use that character to take them down.
Raising levels earns skill points to distribute to characters. This is pretty creative for the most part, but the debuffing and buffing skills aren’t even needed because you’ll be one-shotting enemies in no time. Still, I really enjoyed the attack animations and thought that each character played into their roles with their skills. They can be customized further from weapons skills, but it doesn’t make that big of a difference.
After a while, you’ll be seeing many of the same enemies, and the game will increase the difficulty only by pitting you against larger groups of enemies. It’s a lazy way to challenge players and doesn’t make the many battles that await players fun. On the other hand, the environments are pretty creative for the most part, and each has unique themes.
The issue with Tears of Avia is that it doesn’t fully execute on the built foundation. There are all these systems there that you don’t need to touch because there’s not balance. A few more rounds of playtesting would have helped in this regard, but there’s also a lack of attachment to these characters.
Tears of Avia attempted to present a larger-than-life indie SRPG but bit off way more than it could chew. Creating a world that players don’t care about and a battle system that is broken after the first hour is a huge misstep for any title in this genre. There are some great ideas here, though. Character designs, animations, and writing make for some of the best moments, but all at the cost of an unmemorable adventure.
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