Nintendad

[Review] Alvastia Chronicles – Nintendo Switch

Reviewed by Thomas

  • Developer: Exe Create Inc.
  • Publisher: KEMCO
  • Release Date: 14/02/2019
  • Price: $12.99 / £11.69
  • Review code provided by KEMCO

Intro

I was excited for the opportunity to review Alvastia Chronicles on Nintendo Switch by KEMCO and Exe Create. I have been playing games published by KEMCO since the early ‘90s. Lagoon was one of the first games I ever completed and was a favorite of mine growing up. In 2011 I was reacquainted with KEMCO when I bought my Xperia PLAY smartphone. Featuring an onboard physical gamepad and access to the PlayStation Mobile store, I thought it would be a nice successor to the Playstation Portable. I was wrong. What I did find was a growing library of JRPGs. KEMCO was a huge supporter of the physical gamepad and capturing the nostalgia of role-playing games from the NES/Super NES era. Since then, Kemco has carved out a niche market for themselves and offer classic JRPG experiences on all major platforms to date.

A Club Walks Into a Bar…

Alvastia Chronicles takes place after the world is already lost to the Archfiend Valhyt and his cohorts. With the lower world overrun, the inhabitants of Alvastia seek solace on four floating continents. Alan and his sister Elmia escape with several others during the initial attack. Sadly, at the cost of their parent’s lives. Orphaned in a small town the two enjoy a few peaceful years. Now older, they set out to patrol the town. They find one of Valhyt’s top Officers, who happens to be their parent’s killer. What starts as a quest for revenge, grows into a calling to stop the encroaching evil from spreading.

As the siblings embark on their journey, they seek to build an army of followers to protect Alvastia. The four main races are human, elf, ogre and anima. The anima race being the most diverse with various animals. Having a penguin and a cat back you up in a brawl makes perfect sense and I wouldn’t have it any other way. You’ll also meet recruitable monsters and dragons, among others. My personal favorite ensemble sounded like the start of a bad joke. Did you ever hear of the time when a barrel a crate  and a stone joined my party? It rocked! Hilarity aside, scouring the world for new companions and the ensuing interactions was an exciting experience. Though the core side quests are limited, recruiting others to your team often came with requests as you often have to prove worthy of accompaniment.

For the most part, the narrative is engaging enough to keep you moving forward. A lot of the dialogue is trite and does little to add depth to the main characters. Caught in stereotyped roles, they act and react exactly how one would expect. Gil can’t help but swoon over every woman he meets. His continual insistence that Alan and Elmia’s affection for each other is more than sibling love grows irritating. Alan, for his part, is a silent protagonist. Not for the lack of writing but due to the trauma of losing his parents at a young age. Elmia is sweet and the other characters are endearing. Alvastia Chronicles has quite a few translation errors with idioms used incorrectly. None of which ruined the story but was occasionally distracting.

Bansai Make the Best Friends

One thing I have always liked about KEMCO and Exe Create is their willingness to experiment with traditional turned-based combat. Alvastia Chronicles is familiar enough that if you’re looking for classic turn-based JRPG, you won’t be disappointed. Adding larger party sizes mostly buffs your team and does little in the way of re-imagining combat. You have three main party leaders. Each leader has three followers, putting a total of nine combatants on the field. Elmia isn’t a playable character but stands at the back to support the team. The makeup of your party can have varied effects. The main character, if equipped with a specific weapon will benefit from a team of elves. Likewise, you can have a variety of members to boost different stats and have more skills at your disposal. If you’re a gamer who loves customization and counting stats, then Alvastia Chronicles can keep you busy for quite some time in the menu screen. Additional companions can be assigned to one of two strategy rooms. These rooms allow twelve additional members to aide your expedition from afar by increasing different stats.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Alvastia Chronicles is a great title for those new to the genre thanks to easy modes and simplified grinding. Veteran role-players will want to begin their adventure with a tougher difficulty. I found the Normal setting to be too easy. Granted, I drew a rare end game weapon with a plus 50 bonus near the start. Alvastia Chronicles has a gocha system where you can spend points earned during battles for a chance at a random weapon or companion. The game autosaves before you enter the system so you can’t cheat and try over and over for something or someone good. I happened to get the ultra rare Ultima Blade and could slice through enemies in one hit. As lucky as I was, I never drew the bonsai tree to join my team unfortunately. The gacha system was fun to play with but wasn’t the only thing that pushed me to grind battle after battle. There’s also a reward system where you can earn various rare items. This achievement system gives you prizes for playing the game in a variety of ways.

Tried and True

The music and the art in Alvastia Chronicles is designed with one purpose. To give a retro feel for a game on a modern console. The chiptune music and pixelated graphics pay homoge to JRPGs of the past. Each character and some of the background moves in two frames to make the world feel alive. The hero is always at the center of the screen as you explore towns and the world map. Though the colors are charming and vibrant, they delude the overall dangers you’ll face.

Treasure Not Your Possessions

Secrets abound in Alvastia Chronicles

Alvastia Chronicles ran without any technical issues or glitches. Aside from the previously mentioned translation quirks, it’s a very polished game. The only real issue I had was with the control stick on both Joy Con and Pro controller. Using the control stick while exploring dungeons and towns made your party turn random directions at anytime. It was necessary to use the directional buttons. Playing in handheld mode was my prefered play method. You can save anywhere except during cutscenes and battles, making Alvastia Chronicles an excellent JRPG on the go.

Final wrap

Alvastia Chronicles is a great addition for a budget role-playing game on the Nintendo Switch. Though it doesn’t have a new game plus in the traditional sense, once you beat the main campaign more challenges open up. With an additional story and several difficult areas and dungeons, there’s still a lot to do post game. Some companions don’t become available until you complete the main story. Although Alvastia Chronicles has its flaws, it was still a pleasant experience and worth the cost. The story left me wanting but the gameplay and collection elements were fun and will keep me coming back to the land of Alvastia.

Pros

  • Engaging Mechanics
  • Wooden Crate Teammate
  • Highly Replayable
  • Completionist Heaven

Cons

  • Average Story
  • Shallow Characters
  • Fairly Easy

Verdict
Alvastia Chronicles is a great bargain for its price despite the unimaginative core characters.
3.5/5

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