Title: The Alliance Alive HD Remastered
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: NIS America
I find myself always looking for a traditional JRPG experience. No, I don’t want the same thing over and over, but I don’t mind a more straightforward adventure that doesn’t have the presentation of a box office animated film. I believe developer FuRyu took this into account when developing their 2018 3DS release, The Alliance Alive. Now, the game is coming to PS4, Switch, and PC as an HD Remastered version with some improvements made to the visuals and systems. Thankfully, the game’s charm and presentation make it an adventure worth experiencing.
The Alliance Alive HD Remastered focuses on a group of nine rebellious characters. Most of the group is made up of members of a rebel guild who fight back against the control of Daemons. These Daemons came to the planet thousands of years prior, and they now rule over it along with Beastman. In this world, humans are at the bottom of the food chain.
The story slowly introduces these characters and allows the player to play the opening of the game from different perspectives. Presenting the story in this manner allowed me to understand the motivation of each member of the crew and understand their personalities. However, each character has likable qualities about them, which was nice considering you don’t always have access to the entire group.
The story I found myself most attached too was Galil and Azura’s quest to find the blue sky. After viewing a forbidden painting, Azura lost her sight, but can still see using magic. Anyway, the way the two interact and their willingness to help each other comes off as genuine and pure. Each character shares these same qualities, which makes the entire game about a group of ragtag heroes saving the world in a not so heroic way.
The Alliance Alive HD Remastered is a game where you can’t just skip the text. The characters like to talk about the next destination during scenarios, and they don’t always repeat directions to the next destination. Skipping through the dialogue could cause anyone to become lost rather quickly. Luckily, there are times when the characters will remind you that you probably shouldn’t be where you are.
During gameplay, players can enjoy traditional JRPG offerings such as exploring an open-world, venturing through new towns while busting into stranger’s homes, and a turn-based battle system. Towns in The Alliance Alive HD Remastered each has a theme that lets you know a little bit about the people and the region. While venturing through the open-world sparks a sense of adventure that I didn’t realize I was craving until I played the game.
There are many dungeons that players will find themselves in. Some feature light puzzle-solving and a maze-like design. One thing that I felt lacked in this game was the map, which only outlined the surrounding areas and didn’t show anything that would obscure your travels or changes in elevation. It just made it rather useless. The dungeons are rather small in size and don’t overstay their welcome.
One criticism of the 3DS version that I had was that the difficulty would spike early on in the game and force the player to level grind for a few hours or suffer a Game Over. Thankfully, this version of the game has received a decent amount of updates. Not only did I not die nearly as much, but with some basic knowledge of the battle system, I was getting through the game rather quickly. Now, I can see this being an entry-level JRPG for anyone who is looking to get into the genre.
You can see other improvements in the characters themselves who have never looked better in their chibi fantasy designs. During the dialogue, they each have various expressions that easily display their personalities. However, since you previously played the game on two screens, the HUD can get a little cluttered at times, but thankfully you can turn some displays off. Sadly, voiced audio wasn’t added to the game, which only really affects the cutscenes as they are subtitled, but if you don’t read fast enough, then you can miss out on what was said.
The battle system is where The Alliance Alive HD Remastered shines. Each battle can be fast-forwarded through with two different speed options. Players can equip each character with several weapons where, over time, they will become more efficient with them through what is called “Awakening.” For example, fitting a bow might only allow you to use one attack at first, but after a while, the character will think of new attacks. Some of the stronger attacks use what is known as SP, which replenishes over time.
Other aspects of battles include another element of the game known as Guilds. Throughout the adventure, you’ll encounter towers that represent a Guild. These Guilds can help you out in battle and assist during crucial moments. In the later parts of the game, it’s also possible to construct these towers to widen their influence and get more benefits out of them.
What I enjoyed about The Alliance Alive HD Remastered is just how capable each character was in a battle. Not only could they each hold their own, but if things were going south, they could utilize a unique ability known as “Ignition.” Using this ability unlocks a move known as “Final Blow,” which does some considerable damage but also breaks the equipped weapon. The updates to the game’s battle system do make it much more approachable and easier to manage. HP replenishes after battle unless the character has a fatal wound, which then limits their max HP.
The Alliance Alive HD Remastered has a fantastic soundtrack. Each song fits the game’s somber mood with lo-fi synth and piano riffs. In some areas, the music will ramp up to make your actions feel truly heroic as you fight to reclaim your world and answer its many mysteries.
The Alliance Alive HD Remastered is an excellent port of a standout adventure on the 3DS, that fixed many of my previous issues. There’s also the bonus of seeing these characters in a higher resolution. To get the most out of this game, players will need to invest in the story and characters. Every action the party makes on their quest leads up to a few good story moments that make it all worth it.
There are a lot of features to The Alliance Alive HD Remastered, but their delivery to the player is pretty hands-off. Everything happens in the background, but it gives off a pleasant feeling of progression. The lack of voiced audio and terrible map designs don’t hold this game back from being the awesomely approachable and charming adventure that it is. The Remastered version only made it far more accessible, which I ended up appreciating.
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