Reviewed by Thomas
- Developer: FuRyu
- Publisher: NIS America
- Release Date: 08/10/2019
- Price: £49.99 / $49.99
- Review code provided by NIS America
The Alliance Alive was originally released for the Nintendo 3DS in March of 2018, roughly one year after the Nintendo Switch came out. I had eagerly pre-ordered the title several months in advance. Unfortunately I was so swept up in the ever growing library of Nintendo Switch titles, that I never got around to playing. Fortunately, The Alliance Alive has been ported to the Nintendo Switch as an HD Remastered version. With the plethora of heavy hitters lining up to kick off this holiday season, I was worried The Alliance Alive would be buried by other juggernaut titles. Those other titles, as it turns out, moved to the backburner as I happily focused on this renewed adventure. I was so enamored with The Alliance Alive HD Remastered that I could hardly set it down.
City of Rain
Torrents of rain fall endlessly in the humble city of Svalna. The skies are perpetually sodden and gray. This is the Rain Realm. For Galil and Azura, they’ve never known anything different. Rumors of blue skies were laughable and hardly even a dream. That doesn’t stop Azura however, as she wants to believe in a brighter future. As Galil and Azura set out on a few errands, they soon find an opportunity to see a picture depicting the fabled sky. Unbeknownst to them, they discover their world has been divided and there are other realms out there. In order to bring stability back to the world and break down the barriers separating them, the heroes of the story must unite guilds and tribes into a grand Alliance to fight a greater power.
The story behind The Alliance Alive is a unique one. Though it is technically about saving the world which is a most common theme in role-playing games, it tells the story in a way that is fresh and didn’t seem like a regurgitated narrative of unlikely heroes overcoming great odds. The cast is magical and relatable. I cared about the little digital deviants running around the screen. The writing is a poignant example of love, loss and differences. The characters face biases and misconceptions that can be as harmful as the blades they wield. This plays into the alliances that you attempt to forge in the latter parts of the game.
The Alliance Alive follows a lot of the standard tropes of a JRPG when it comes to the gameplay. The battles are turn-based. Enemies are visible in dungeons and the overworld map. Cities, ruins, forests and villages dot the landscape beaconing you to explore each area. As you advance the story, more places open up with weapons to buy and items to loot. If you favor the classic turn-based RPG feel then The Alliance Alive has it.
The battle system has an engaging allure about it. Your party can equip two weapons and alternate between different types. As they become more proficient with a specific weapon they will “awaken” and unlock new skills randomly during their turn. This growth style was exciting to watch and encouraged me to rotate weapons between party members. One character may be better with a bow and less talented with a greatsword, but they still have the opportunity to use either.
Formations are another integral part of the game. Prior to any round during battle, you can select which formation is best suited to counter your adversary. Later on you can design and customize your own formations to fit your party and tactics. Everything about the combat was fluid and fun. If you want to grind you can adjust the speed of battles on the fly. Granted, none of this is new to the genre but The Alliance Alive executes it in such an easy and natural way that it feels very refreshing.
As the game progresses and you begin to forge alliances, you’ll have the ability to interact with various guilds. These guilds have towers around the world and provide assistance during battles. One can stun the enemies while another buffs your party. You’ll find areas where the guilds haven’t reached and can build a tower for them. Not only do they provide support in battle but they offer a safe place to rest and save your game as well as develop new spells, armor or weapons. It’s not an in depth building simulator by any means, but you do get a say in what type of tower is built and who is in charge of it. It was a nice addition to the gameplay and made sense for the overall story.
A Shifting World
The Alliance Alive HD Remastered’s presentation depicts beautifully hand drawn backgrounds with incredible looking structures and marvelous cities. There is a lot of variety in the divided world in which the artists made great use of the distinct locales. The inhabitants are drawn chibi style and pack a lot of personality. This simple look is clean and elegant and I took way too many screenshots. It lacks the 3D of its predecessor but being able to play on the go and on a big screen amply makes up the difference.
The accompanying music is no less impressive. The score is as varied as the backgrounds and escalates the emotion of each scene. Sound effects are well recorded from the attacks to the weather effects. Wandering the Rain Realm was somewhat therapeutic. From a technical aspect the game ran fine without any issues. Though I preferred to play in handheld mode it looked great on the television too.
The Alliance Alive HD Remastered is a shining example of a JRPG that has everything I love about the genre yet still feels fresh and exciting. I sunk hours into the game before I blinked and never tired from the adventure. If you’re a fan of turn-based role playing games then you can’t go wrong with The Alliance Alive.
- Fresh Take on JRPGs
- Memorable Cast
- Unique Story
- Excellent Presentation
The Alliance Alive HD Remastered hones the classic JRPG experience while offering a refreshing experience.