A first step taken into Alphadia Genesis, and its fusion of swords and science.
As 2014 winds down to its conclusion, it’s time to set our sights onward to next year. 2015 is set to be a huge year for games, but one of the first releases of the new year isn’t your typical AAA fare at all. Alphadia Genesis is a retro JRPG by EXE CRATE, already out on Wii U and heading to Steam next month. We’ve been given a review copy of the game on its new home, and the chance to talk about its first slice. Nostalgic adventure awaits!
Alphadia Genesis stars Fray, a protagonist of the most protagonist-y calibur. Just look at him! What a protagonist! Fray is a guildsman, and a seasoned warrior. As such, he is wanted by the kingdom to serve as a knight. What we learn through the first scenes of the game, however, is that knighthood simply isn’t Fray’s cup of tea. Try as he might, though, Fray soon finds himself part of something much bigger than the life of a simple guildsman.
The first couple of hours of Alphadia Genesis contain a lot of exposition. We learn that the game’s world, although very medieval in appearance, also bears great scientific advances, enough so that humans have mastered the art of cloning. We learn that clones are tied to their masters, and are generally treated as less-than-human. Clone rights are a hot-button topic between the kingdoms, and we see Fray get a chance to state his support of their equal treatment early on.
The king – being kingly and all – calls upon Fray and his sister Aurra with a task. Aurra is a scientist, handy with a gun, and full of wit. We learn a little more about the story, and soon set off to investigate a cloning laboratory, which serves as Alphadia Genesis’ first dungeon. Here, Fray meets a clone who accidentally imprints onto him, and joins the party.
Alphadia Genesis starts out easy on the combat. The game so far is pretty standard turn-based RPG fare, with moves split into standard attacks and moves based on MP. The latter is actually divided into two categories: Break Skills, which utilize the characters’ weapons and often lower enemy stats; and Energi, which is your standard magic fare. By the time you’re through the first dungeon, you’ll have some shielding and healing magic as well as offensive.
Later on, once your party expands to a total of five (which happens more quickly than you might expect), you’ll be able to move characters around. Only four characters can fight on the front line, meaning your fifth gets put in the back for an assist. There’s also a second row in-between the front line and the assist position, but I haven’t yet gotten far enough to see what that means for combat strategy. Some enemies show a similar formation, and the only tactical advantage I’ve divined so far is that characters in the middle row can’t be hit as easily. Characters in the assist spot will give some kind of passive benefit, like increased evasion or attack power. So far, these seem rather limited, but they may vary as the game goes on. As you fight, an assist meter will build up turn by turn, eventually allowing you to call on your assist character for a special attack, which will vary depending on which other character calls on them. So far, I found it a little hard to predict what combinations will do what, so it seems like trial-and-error is the name of the game here.
Actually, that same trial-and-error philosophy applies to a lot of things so far in. A crafting system is introduced, allowing you to craft rings with various elemental effects. The first three available to craft are fire, water, and light rings. These don’t just amplify attacks of certain elements, but actually give those attacks to the wearers of the different rings. This is a nice touch, but leads to some confusion when facing enemies. As with the rings, most of the enemies I’ve encountered so far have also been fire-, water-, or light-type. It doesn’t take a harvard-graduate to figure out that water beats fire, but the relationship between light and other elements isn’t as clear.
From here, the story so far has me travelling farther to investigate a mystery surrounding the clones. More characters have joined the party, hailing from a neighboring kingdom that also has a vested interest in clones. I smell politics! The character writing isn’t what I would call bad, but it certainly feels more than a bit trope-y. On top of that, there’s a lot of weird dialogue that most likely suffers from less-than-ideal translation. The voice acting is Japanese only, and can be turned on or off at will. Only the central cast get voices, though, and we curiously only hear them some of the time.
The game’s retro visual aesthetic looks pretty good, reminiscent of some of the new mobile ports of older Final Fantasy titles, in their mix of sprite-based overworlds and 3D battle scenes. What’s odd, though, is the fusion of science and classical fantasy. To risk getting a bit too critical for a preview, it’s hard to ignore that the two don’t seem very well-combined. There’s no sign that the marvelous future-technology allowing cloning has any connection to anything else in the world, which otherwise feels like medieval fantasy in every respect. Oh, worldbuilding, ye flighty broad. Similarly, the monster designs seem a bit unfocused so far. It feels a bit like trying to fill a quota. “Slime monster? Check. Large rock thing? Check.” And so on.
Alphadia Genesis draws strength from the legacy at its backbone. Its combat feels very familiar, and as such doesn’t hold back on giving you many characters to work with quickly. It’s unfortunate that the enemies so far have been almost insultingly easy to defeat, as I didn’t find the need to use anything other than standard attacks until the first boss. The story requires a LOT of exposition up front, but this seems to be levelling out a bit as I press on. Alphadia Genesis will be released next month, and we’ll have a full review up for the game at that time. For now, though, maybe stay away from JRPGs. Alphadia Genesis has the potential to be the JRPG-iest JRPG you’ve JRPG’d in quite some time.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.heypoorplayer.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/011.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]If danger had a face…oh, if danger had a face. Jay Petrequin started writing at HeyPoorPlayer in the summer of 2012, but has always been a writer, be it in the form of articles and reviews here at HPP or in that of fiction and articles written over at PkMnCast.com. Jay has been a gamer from a young age, first finding his legs on a GBA and a copy of Pokemon Sapphire. He enjoys a game with a strong narrative and art design, but also appreciates the retro stuff from before his time. Jay also has a passion for comics, movies and anime. He likes to yell a lot on his Twitter @extremesalsaing, which is only the coolest twitter in town. Favorite games: Okami, Bioshock, Shadow of the Colossus, Xenoblade Chronicles, The World Ends With You, Pokemon Emerald[/author_info] [/author]