Game Review #390: Archlion Saga (Nintendo Switch)
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Reviewer: Allan Jenks
Developer: Hit-Point Co., Ltd.
Release Date: 7.18.2019
Price (at time of review): $4.99
Buy Archlion Saga from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
I Love You, But I Don’t Have Time for You
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love RPGs! I love just about everything about RPGs, except, sometimes, the amount of time that is required of you to fully immerse yourself into a good RPG. I have my full-time job (which is, unfortunately, not this), my wife and my 2-year-old daughter, and my band to occupy most of my waking hours, and though I do find time to play my games, I don't always have the ability to take on a full 100-hour+ RPG.
Enter KEMCO with their first chapter—of many, hopefully—in what they are calling the “Pocket-sized RPG series” of games, Archlion Saga. What is a pocket-sized RPG, you may ask? Great question! Basically, it is the full RPG experience—leveling up, learning new skills, finding new party members, being pulled into a great story, facing challenging enemies, upgrading weapons and armor, etc.—but in a streamlined, fluff-free, and most importantly, short presentation. I was able to complete a full—and very fulfilling—playthrough of the game in just over 3 hours, and there is even a new game+ feature that allows you to take your stats and re-start for another playthrough, which I wish was a feature of every RPG.
The TV Dinner of RPGs: Quick, But Filling!
When I first got the chance to review Archlion Saga, I thought it sounded like a cool idea for an RPG, but I wasn’t really holding out a lot of hope for an immersive RPG experience, I was just expecting a generic playthrough with a barely-there story that sped me through from start to finish without much effort. I am so glad that I was so wrong! This game kept me glued to the screen the whole time, and though the story is a simple one, it is still a good one that allows for a fully fleshed-out tale.
While the character development is limited—as should be expected—there’s still enough there to get you caring about what happens to everyone; and you get a full narrative of the saga of the Archlion King, and how he must slay the serpent in order to save those who bear the curse of its mark of death. The game is split into 5 linear chapters, and once you leave the area for each chapter, you can not go back, so there is no open-world exploration, but I didn’t really feel it missing, as the story content was moving so efficiently that it just flowed.
The Battles of the Archlion Kings
As for the battle system, I found Archlion Saga to be rather unique and innovative, while still feeling incredibly familiar and functionally simplified. It is a turn-based battle system, but rather than each party member taking a separate turn, you choose one attack per turn, and your enemies attack back once per turn as well.
You also don’t have separate HP stats during the battle, though each character does have their own HP stats in the menu screen. Instead of each character striking out on their own, the aggregate total of all of your party members’ individual HP stats are added together into one HP bar for the entire party. This is the same with the enemies, so whether there are 5 enemies on the screen or just one, they still only have one HP bar to deplete as well.
You can choose to do a simple physical attack, which seems to be a general attack using your party’s combined attack stats, or you can execute a critical hit attack by using a star—these are collected throughout the journey, and can be used for critical hit, to open treasure chests or locked barriers, or to double the EXP of a battle. Be careful not to use them all up on doubling your EXP or on critical hits though, as there is a finite amount of these stars on your journey, and there are several areas where you need a star to progress to the next area. I used the double EXP on the big battles with extra high EXP results, personally.
You can also select an individual party member and choose from their list of learned skills. These skills are different for each party member, and each skill requires a certain number of turns to charge up for use. I found that each skill, whether it was a healing skill, a magic attack, or a thief skill, was useful and necessary. So many RPGs I’ve played have had tons and tons of new skills that you learn, but many of them are fairly useless in the grand scheme of things, and I end up never using the majority of them. Not so with Archlion Saga, as each of the limited number of skills—three per party member total—were helpful and provided a good tactical use.
The battles were challenging too, and they kept the game interesting throughout. Unlike a few other RPGs I have played recently, I felt like I had to actively strategize and use the proper skills at the right time to stay alive—especially in the last chapter, where almost every battle was a boss battle. You collect healing herbs throughout the game as well, but they cannot be used during battles. Instead, you must rely on either the party members with healing abilities, or the use of the pendant you gain at the start of the game. The healing skills are much more efficient later on in the game, once your HP gets into the thousands instead of just a few hundred points, as the pendant never really gets any more powerful as you level up, it just levels out around a +300 HP—this may also be just so you have something to heal you during battles early on before you get any real healing skills in your repertoire, which totally makes sense.
Was It “Short-Sighted” Too?
Visually, Archlion Saga follows the current indie trend of the “modern retro” style, and is done beautifully in 16-bit style. The colors are bright and eye-catching, the enemies are well-designed and original, and the battle animations are nice. The only thing I can really critique—and it’s not a huge deal—is that the tiling lacks appropriate continuity in certain areas, making a brick road pattern look a little busy, but nothing game-breaking there.
The soundtrack is simple, but also done quite well. The battle music is catchy and never got annoying or repetitive throughout my playthrough, and the sound effects really do a great job tugging at my nostalgic heart strings. Overall, the sights and sounds were very polished and thoughtful, and really created a great atmosphere that sucked me in. This game has a familiar-but-unique look and feel to it that really stands out from the crowd.
I really enjoyed my time—brief as it was—with Archlion Saga, and I have a feeling I will enjoy it at least a few more times with the new game+ feature. When all is said and done, this is a short little RPG adventure that leaves you feeling like you’ve gotten the full RPG experience, and I can definitely appreciate that. If you are like me and love RPGs, but just don’t always have the time to drop 100+ hours into a full-sized epic journey, I would recommend that you pick up Archlion Saga to enjoy the “Pocket -sized RPG” as I did.
Buy Archlion Saga from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Follow Hit-Point Co., Ltd.
*Review Code Provided by KEMCO