Thanks to NIS America for the review code
Title: The Alliance Alive HD Remastered
System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 10/08/2019
In this RPG adventure, you take control of Galil and his friend Azura, who set out on an adventure together to try and discover what happened to their world hundreds of years ago, while also hoping to fix a divide between beasts and humans, caused by terrifying creatures known as Daemons.
At first glance it would be very easy to mistake this game for a clone of Bravely Default, considering how it seems to outright rip off the look those two RPGs, with how the characters are designed and the scaling of the world. It definitely looks like a game that could be tweaked into another entry in the Bravely franchise, but thankfully the game still has a bit of its own identity, and the HD Makeover has really helped the game in the long run, as the whole game is displayed at a higher resolution and absolutely blows the look of the 3DS original out of the water.
The battle system is entirely different, for one thing, and the UI is much more to the point, allowing you to find your skills within no time at all. The character art is also a lot more on the colorful side even if the actual designs can feel a bit too similar. On the bright side, the music is absolutely outstanding, with a great battle theme along with other enjoyable tracks, and there’s plenty of iTunes worthy songs to discover here.
However, despite characters talking with their mouths in cutscenes, it should be noted there’s zero voice acting to speak of here, which depending on your preferences, could be a perfectly OK thing or something that’s a dated choice for a modern RPG. I still enjoyed what was going on enough to not mind the lack of voices, and the fact that the cutscenes (Except FMVs) can be sped up with the press of the Plus buttons help make it super easy for fast readers to enjoy the story at a brisk pace.
The Alliance Alive controls like your typical RPG, with you navigating the world map with your party, engaging in battles and using skills to defeat the opponents, all while exploring towns for information or to advance the plot. It sounds pretty typical and overall the progression works as you may expect, but the battle system breaks from the usual norm in several ways that help make the game more handheld friendly.
For starters, you don’t gain EXP at all. Instead, the stat and skill system is akin to the SAGA franchise and Final Fantasy II, in that the more you battle, the more you’ll increase your stats depending on how the battle goes, and sometimes you’ll learn new skills or upgrade them in the middle of a command, so you have to make do with what skills you’ve got and stick with it, as grinding to learn new skills isn’t really practical.
However, to make up for the lack of EXP, a new total known as Talent Points comes into play. TP is gained after every battle, but in pretty small numbers, and spending them is something you have to do on your own. Each character can spend their TP on numerous traits that can increase their skill with certain weapons or moves, impact how enemy encounters and status conditions play out, or even increase the chance of new skills being discovered, which makes spending these especially important.
Since you gain stats more easily than skills, you won’t necessarily be overpowered by enemies as long as you keep on fighting them and plan accordingly. Your initial party of two might get murdered by some of the more dangerous enemies lurking about, but over the course of the game you’ll get new party members to assist you, although some will come and go as they please so be sure to focus on your main duo whenever you can.
Another thing that helps these battles stay fun comes from how you can double the battle speed up to two times, meaning that you can blaze through battles against weaker enemies by just turning to speed up to 4X and wailing at them with the auto command. (which repeats the last moves on cursor memory) This is a fantastic way to grind for extra stat points and take care of enemies quickly, which helps the game’s pacing a lot.
Saving the game normally requires that you go to an inn and save there, but luckily this game allows for autosave at any time with an quick button command, and save times are near instant. This means if you worry about making a mistake, you can quicksave and reload the file if you fail, or you could easily use it to take a break right before a boss. Not to mention if you die, you can retry the battle without concern, or run away at the cost of some stat points.
Needless to say, the fact it doesn’t auto-erase upon being loaded and you can make a new quicksave with no effort makes this a perfect pick up and play game, too. If you just want to tackle a dungeon and then call it quits, you can do that stress-free! Likewise, if you want to play for a long while and get to a point where normal saving is not as easy, you can quicksave to end your game anyhow, and I can only think of the Dragon Quest mobile ports having a quicksave feature just as handy, so it’s fantastic to see this game be super accessible and kind to the player’s schedule while also allowing for plenty of challenge and strategy. Combine that with a lot of extra collectibles to discover in the form of the Order and Chaos gems, (scattered around the entire world) and you have plenty to do for the $50 price point, although there’s unfortunately no new dungeons to find here over the 3DS original.
In conclusion, The Alliance Alive was a game that I was very surprised by, as it’s of really high quality! Containing some of the best aspects from the SAGA series with some handy quality of life improvements, and you have one of the best pick up and play RPGs that I’ve seen on the Switch in a long while.
With instant quicksaving, a speed up option in battle and during cutscenes, and a story that moves at a pretty good speed that’s also well written, this is easily one of the best underdog RPGs to launch this year, and for those who are in the same camp as me and missed the 3DS version due to it being on the 3DS in 2018, you have no reason to skip out on this quirky RPG adventure, especially if you enjoy the Saga series or want a RPG that’s easy to pull out and play anywhere you go without worrying about hunting down a save point.
However, if you already played through this on your 3DS and didn’t mind playing on that system, then there’s little reason to rebuy this game outside of some QOL improvements and enjoying the adventure all over again, since there’s no significant new content such as dungeons or extra characters. Regardless, I can’t recommend this game enough, and I really am excited to see if these developers cook up a sequel in the future, or bring over their other oddball JRPG, The Legend of Legacy.
I give The Alliance Alive HD Remastered a 9 out of 10.