What’s It About?
The Alliance Alive HD Remastered is a turn-based JRPG primarily developed by Cattle Call, with some work also done by FuRyu and Grezzo. The game is an HD update to the original 3DS release that came out in 2018. With inspiration taken from classic franchises such as the SaGa series, The Alliance Alive delivers a fun and satisfying experience that stands out as one of the best on the system.
The Nintendo Switch has been very kind to the JRPG fan, offering a wide selection of fresh new titles alongside older classics. While franchises such as Xenoblade and Pokemon stand out in the spotlight (and rightfully so), The Alliance Alive seems to have slipped under a lot of people’s radars, myself included for a while. I’ve been familiar with the game ever since its original release on 3DS, but I was completely oblivious to the Switch port until I happened to stumble upon it on the Eshop one day. Always eager to try out a new JRPG, I picked it up on a whim and ended up loving it for numerous reasons.
The game has some really solid talent behind it, with the story being written by Yoshitaka Muriyama of Suikoden fame, and the music composition being handled by Masashi Hamauzu, who worked on the Final Fantasy series. I found the soundtrack to be enjoyable overall, although it’s definitely pretty different from most JRPG’s of this style. It goes for a more atmospheric, almost steampunk-style tone. I really liked it, but if you're a fan of more melodic OST’s, this one might not be your cup of tea.
As far as the story goes, the game takes place in a world where evil Daemons have brought the planet to ruin with a force called the “Dark Current”, and now reign supreme over humanity. You play as a motley crew of resistance fighters called the “Night Crows”, who are determined to end the Daemons’ tyranny. The cast of nine characters is unique and varied, and you’ll get a chance to play as each of them before they all join together, à la Final Fantasy 6.
You won’t find any archetypes you haven’t seen before in other games, but that’s not a bad thing necessarily, as they’re all likeable and diverse.
The battle system takes heavy inspiration from Square Enix’s SaGa games, which makes sense as many ex-SaGa developers worked on The Alliance Alive. Basically, combat is turn based; but instead of picking commands from a typical “Attack-Magic-Item-Defend” menu, most of your abilities in battle are tied to the weapon you’re using.
There are numerous weapon types, and each character is capable of wielding any of them. There are no experience points or levels; instead, you’ll earn SP by winning battles, which will allow you to unlock new weapon skills. The more you use a particular weapon type, the more proficient you’ll be with it. There’s also a grid for you to position your characters on, which are associated with either Attack, Defence, or Support. I’m a big fan of this battle system, and I found it offered a lot of freedom to develop your party however you see fit.
World-map traversal is also very well handled, with a lot of emphasis placed on exploration. Early on in the game, you’ll gain access to a glider which allows you to soar across the map from high places. While using it, you’ll have to take things like elevation and terrain into account, which makes getting to your next destination a puzzle in itself. There are also Guild Towers dotting the land. Activating these towers grant you various bonuses both in and outside of battle, and you’re able to build more as the game progresses. It’s a surprisingly complex and layered system that offers some really handy benefits if you’re willing to invest the time.
Aesthetically speaking, the art style and character designs are unique and charming. If you were a fan of the 3DS’s Bravely Default, then this style is going to be right up your alley. The character models and overall art style are extremely similar, and it even incorporates a similar “pop-up book” look to its towns and cities.
While I praised The Alliance Alive for its unique art style, there are times when you can definitely tell this was a 3DS game. I’m far from a stickler for graphics, but I feel more could have been done in this department to make it feel more compatible with the Nintendo Switch. It is an HD Remaster, but only barely. This is far from a dealbreaker, but it was something that lingered in the back of my mind as I played the game.
The game could have also benefited from a dedicated battle theme for basic encounters in the overworld. Boss fights and strong enemies have their own unique tracks, but standard fights against normal enemies will simply play the music of whatever environment you’re in. It just struck me as an odd choice to not have one.
This is a pretty subjective criticism, but I feel that the game could have really used some voice acting. Even during pre-rendered cutscenes, where the game is trying its best to be very cinematic and you can see characters’ mouths moving, there are no voices at all. It’s really noticeable and jarring, and it took away some of the emotional impact from very important moments.
The Alliance Alive is a well-crafted game, and is absolutely worth your time if you’re interested. With a well-written story, a unique soundtrack, and a fun and rewarding battle system, it’s hard to go wrong with. If you enjoy titles from the “Golden Era” of JRPG’s, this is definitely not one to skip out on.
Geek to Geek Rating- 4/5
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Price: $49.99 (Nintendo Switch eShop)
Rating: T (Teen)
Platform: Nintendo Switch