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  • Writer's pictureAllan Jenks

Game Review #436: The Alliance Alive HD Remastered (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Allan Jenks

Developer: FuRyu

Publisher: NIS America

Category: RPG, Adventure

Release Date: 10.8.2019

Price: $49.99

Buy The Alliance Alive HD Remastered from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy The Alliance Alive HD Remastered from Amazon here.

Do You Have a Moment to Talk About Our Swords & Saviors?

Though I love RPGs in general, not a lot of the RPGs I play have me bragging on them to anyone around me who I think will listen. Rare is the gem that gets me so excited about a battle system that I type a small essay on it to a friend in text messages. Though rare, these games do find their way to me every once in a while, and I have been fortunate to find another one of these absolutely brilliant games in The Alliance Alive HD Remastered.

This game feels so polished and so well-composed that I immediately loved it. You start out with two childhood friends, Galil and Azura, members of the resistance group “Night Ravens.” The world has been divided into separate regions by The Dark Current, a cataclysmic event that appeared when the Daemon overlords emerged to overthrow the population. It’s been like this for so long that most people are unaware that there is even any way beyond the current. The Daemons rule over the Humans with an iron fist, and treat them like disposable tools. The Beastfolk—animal-like humanoid creatures—also serve the Daemons, but are given power to rule over the lowly Humans. To free their people and take back their world, an unlikely hodge-podge of heroes must join forces to start a revolution.

How Long Was the Intro Again???

The story is deep here, and quite engaging. I was so engrossed in it that I almost didn’t notice that I was already two hours into the game when the opening credits started playing—almost, but it still caught me off guard, and I thought the game had reset for a second!

Each new set of characters is introduced in an interweaving storyline that has you jumping around to different realms with everything tying back together seamlessly later on. I know this is a remaster, not a brand new game, but if you’re like me and were late to the party with this game, it’s really news to me, and I don’t want to give too much of the story away. I will just say that it is epic and well-crafted.

The Art of Arts

I mentioned the battle system getting me quite excited, and I meant it; the battle system is one of the most unique turn-based RPG systems I have ever experienced. There aren't ten different versions of the same character-specific weapon—though each weapon type has a couple of different versions that vary in stats—but rather, there are just a set number of different weapon-types, and each character can use all of them; and the more they use them, the more skills (called “Arts”) they "awaken" with that weapon.

New Arts are learned mid-battle when executing an attack. The character has an “Awakening” and suddenly executes a completely new Art. These Arts can also level up with continued use—also occurring mid-battle—permanently increasing that Art’s stats. This really encourages the player to use as many different types of weapons and Arts as possible to keep the characters balanced in their attacks. By that same token though, it also allows for you to focus on a particular set of Arts or weapon type, creating a sort of job class for each character. You can use swords, greatswords, axes, spears, staffs, bows, shields, and can even opt to go unarmed and learn different Arts with just your fists! With so many different options and ways to progress, the possibilities are wide open, and I think this will add a great deal of replay value to the game as well.

Bring a Snack!

In addition to being able to equip any type of weapons, each character also has two accessory slots available to equip different items, like buff items such as fire rings, attack items like exploding milk caps, and healing items such as food and medicine. There is no “Items” command in battle, so unless you have it equipped prior to the start of the battle, you can’t use it during the battle, and yes, this includes medicine and food items to raise your HP.

Now, there are magic spells (called “Sigils”) that can be purchased or learned when a character has an Etheract equipped, and some of those Sigils are of a healing nature, so if you forget to equip your meds, there is still some hope for you. An Etheract is a special weapon that has a magic emblem engraved on it that allows the Sigils to work for Humans, as Humans cannot use magic otherwise. Your Beastfolk and Daemon party members are able to use sorcery, however, and can use it without the need for any special type of weapon. Sorcery magic is actually my favorite part of the battle system, as it has some pretty high-power attacks, and pretty great animations to boot.

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

When your character powers up to a limit break (called “Ignition”) a final strike attack becomes available. The Final Strike is an extremely powerful attack that will generally K.O. a tough enemy in one shot, but at the cost of that particular weapon breaking. Luckily, the drop rate of most of the weapons is decently high after battles, so it can easily be replaced. Since the Arts you learn are tied to the weapon type, not the weapon itself, you will still maintain your Arts with the replacement weapon.

Also, as you progress further into the game, you will unlock a support move called “Reinforce.” This requires your character to use Final Strike while there are other characters in the same battle position—more on battle positions in a moment—and allows you to perform a series of incredibly powerful attacks on the enemy, and will not count as the support characters’ turns either, which is nice. The battle positions are interchangeable, and can be changed on-the-fly during battles or prior to battle in the menu. You can choose a front row position that grants higher attack power but makes you more vulnerable to damage, a back row position that lowers attack power but raises speed and healing, or a middle row position, which has a well-balanced mix of the two.

Don’t Spend All Your SP in One Place!

Your HP recovers after each battle, so the need for medicine is lowered in this regard, but your SP, which is required for most Arts to be executed, does not refill, though your SP does refill if it levels up, or when you stay at an inn or a guild tower. This also keeps the battles more balanced, as it forces you to strategize a bit more instead of just spamming the highest-powered Art over and over again. Unlike most RPGs, your characters do not actually level up, but their stats do, independent from one another. So, after a battle, your character’s HP might increase by a few points, or maybe their SP another time.

At the end of each battle, you also receive Talent Points, which can be used to improve the stats for different aspects of each character’s Arts, such as how quickly new Arts for a particular weapon are Awakened, or how much SP is consumed with each Art. You can also use the Talent Points to purchase battle prep skills, such as haggling abilities that get you shop discounts, or sneak abilities that let you sneak by more enemies unnoticed.

The Enemies Are Afoot

Speaking of sneaking by enemies, The Alliance Alive HD Remastered also has one of my favorite types of encounter systems with monsters. It is set up almost like Earthbound, in the sense that the enemies roam around the overworld and dungeons freely, and you engage in a separate battle screen when you come in contact with them. Like with Earthbound, if you sneak up behind an enemy unnoticed, you gain a battle advantage, but if the enemy gets you from behind, they have the advantage in the battle.

Unlike any other game I have experienced though, The Alliance Alive features what is called a Battle Chain, which is a series of back-to-back battles that occurs when you come into contact with 2 or more enemies in the world map or dungeon at the same time. This makes you think twice before just barging in to a monster-infested room, as your HP will not replenish until you complete all of the battles in the Battle Chain—so hopefully you have some medicine equipped before this happens!

One more thing about the battle system, and I will shut up about it—I promise! Throughout the game, you will encounter different Guild Towers. Each Guild has a specialty: Recon, Blacksmith, Library (Information), Signimancy, or Tactics; and when you are in range of these Guild Towers during a battle, the towers will occasionally give you an assist. The different towers have different support for your party, some stunning your opponents, some flat out carpet-bombing them. It doesn’t happen too annoyingly often, but I’ve had a few towers come through right on time for me during my time with this game, and it was much appreciated.

How Remastered is It?

Now, the title of this game is The Alliance Alive HD Remastered, so let’s talk about that for a second. The original version was released on the 3DS, and while the graphics weren’t bad, when comparing them side-by-side with the HD Remaster, it is very apparent where there was room for improvement, and that room was taken advantage of in full with this remaster! The graphics are smooth, polished, and delightfully adorable in the chibi style of the game.

The sound effects punch through and are very well-done, and the soundtrack is excellent as well. Overall, though I never played the original myself, I am quite impressed with how this remaster was handled. The towns and overworlds are gorgeous, and every little detail was polished here.

Wrapping Up

There are a million things that I feel like I skimmed over or barely even touched on with this review, but there are only so many words I can type! For a more in-depth look at the game, you can visit the official website here. Suffice it to say, I loved this game! Everything about it is just great. The battle system is innovative and fun, and allows for quite a bit of customization and variety, the graphics and sounds are spot-on, and to top it off, the story and characters are incredibly engaging and charming! If you like ANY sort of turn-based RPG, then I recommend adding this one to your collection. This is a full-priced Triple A title that is worth every penny of the $49.99 price tag, and though I am always hesitant to hand out a perfect score on an RPG—I compare them all to Chrono Trigger, so it’s never a fair fight—I am going to do it here. I give The Alliance Alive HD Remastered a perfect 10/10. Go out today and buy this game!

Score: 10/10

Buy The Alliance Alive HD Remastered from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy The Alliance Alive HD Remastered from Amazon here.

Follow Alliance Alive

Website / / YouTube

Follow FuRyu

Website / / YouTube

Follow NIS America

Website / Facebook / / YouTube

*Review code was provided for review purposes.

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