A gem worth a visit or re-visit

Alliance Alive is an HD port of the 3DS version of the game which is now available on PS4, Switch and Windows. After playing for an hour the game reminded me of a few I have already played, namely Bravely Default, Final Fantasy and SaGa Frontier 2, Bravely Default and Final Fantasy for its design and similar interfaces and SaGa Frontier 2 for its gameplay mechanics.

Graphically Alliance Alive is a gorgeous game to look at, it is quite obvious that it is a port of a 3DS game as some objects look weak although never out of place with anything. It may not be anything grand in terms of design but the world is still beautiful to look at and retains the feel of an old school RPG which is by no means a bad thing. The menus and general interface are simple to navigate and pleasant to the eye and tutorials will unlock as you progress allowing anyone to learn or recap on anything.

The story takes place in an isolated world wrought with rain and dangerous monsters and is controlled by a great Daemon race more powerful than the humans, the game’s story is backed by interesting character development and each character plays an integral part of moving forward, there is a beastfolk race who are like the nobles of this world while the humans are seen as commoners thus have a conflicting relationship because of this, however one such character joins you early on and unlike the other beastfolk has a friendly and brave nature and even puts himself in danger to help. This kept me interested in moving forward to see how and if this relationship is ever explained, there is no voice acting in Alliance Alive but I did not feel this was a problem as voice acting doesn’t always portray the characters as intended.

When out in the world enemies can be seen and will run after you if you are spotted, you can sneak up on enemies but as with this system, enemies can do this with you also. If you wish you can grind several battles at once by rounding several enemies at once which will cause a round of several battles. During battle, characters will adopt their positions based on the formations they have been given. Simply put front characters will deal more damage while characters in the back take less. The battles are turn-based and by utilizing whatever weapon the character is equipped they have a chance to learn new battle skills. Using new battle skills can require SP which is limited early on but fight enough battles this will increase at random. Alliance Alive adopts a system where stats increase after battles. There are no levels or experience points here, characters HP and SP have a chance to increase after each battle. You can also gain Talent points, money and items but this is random fortunately it happens often so it is not something to worry about and only makes the grinding less tedious. Talent points allow characters to learn essential powers such as reducing the SP cost of certain skills or party abilities such as decreasing the cost of items sold in shops. Talent points are earned slowly so deciding when and where to put them is something that happens not too often but it is a system that doesn’t punish you as there is no wrong or right answer. There are also other elements unlocked early on such as the Ignition ability, a last resort kind of ability that allows you to do a super-powerful move but will cost you your currently equipped weapon in the process. A small price I have found as weapons are cheap and I found myself with more than enough money to replace them, it makes sense just to be careful not to use your current and most powerful weapons or ones you want to keep.

Azuru is the primary magic user of the group as she is equipped with a magic staff allowing her to perform the art of Signimancy, otherwise, the Daemons are usually the only ones able to use such magic. Each character is able to equip two weapons and switch freely on which weapons skills they can use in battle. It’s also possible to equip each character with any weapon allowing freedom on building a character on personal preference. I was initially confused as to how to use Items during a battle, it was only till I found I needed an accessory equipped, the “Medical Kit” was I able to use any, I have yet to use any of these yet though as so far I have found the game very easy and battles can be over in seconds in some instances. While I have not played the 3DS version of the game, I had heard it was a lot harder but now it just seems too easy, they have made it too easy perhaps? There are instances where certain enemies will annihilate you if you aren’t careful but this can be avoided with careful decisions and planning, some can even be defeated with enough grinding.

The music in Alliance Alive is superb, each piece of music feels as though it was meant for its part. The theme that plays when you first go out onto the rainy plains or known to most as the world map is mysterious and sad but also emphasises on the danger in the world, this is especially true as I embarked frivolously into the lake and got an instant game over by the dangerous sea devils lurking in there.

Alliance Alive has some very unique ways of traversing out on the plains, once you have progressed through the game you are given a flying Ornithopter which allows you to fly but not in the sense that you might think, you cant simply fly at high altitudes to where you want, instead you can glide for a short period and are able to traverse large canyons and other inaccessible areas where deadly lakes are present. This gives a real sense of adventure and I was excited to explore what I could, it’s like having platform game elements in a JRPG, and that is something that happens not often.

Alliance Alive has plenty of other systems in place while not essential add depth and variety to the game. Guilds operate in certain areas in the game and allow on the field and in battle benefits, you can recruit characters to these Guilds or not at all, the amount of time you wish to invest into the guild is down to the player and you would be forgiven to forget it altogether but it is nice its there.

A PlayStation 4 Review Code was provided by NIS America