The Beginning of an Amazing Journey
Classically inspired JRPGs are like a breath of fresh air nowadays. It’s a genre which, much like a proverbial dinosaur, once roamed the world freely, generally standing at the top of the video game food chain. Today, that’s no longer they case. The genre isn’t nearly as common, nor as popular, as it once was. But that doesn’t mean that it’s truly gone the way of the dinosaur! Between the myriad of cookie-cutter first-person shooters and bizarre (yet often times still quite fun) role-playing hybrids, an old-school RPG still manages to sneak its way into the market once in a while. The most recent example of this is none other than FuRyu’s The Alliance Alive. And, although my journey within the game has only just begun, I’m already overjoyed with what I’ve seen.
The Alliance Alive begins in a world still reeling from the effects of a war which occurred 1000 years ago. The Humans, although free once upon a time, have long been under the thumb of a race known as the Daemons who, after emerging victorious from the now millennium-old war, have seen fit to segment the Human world so that they may never pose a threat to Daemonkind again. To further ensure this, the Daemons have also given a great deal of power to a race known as the Beastfolk, creating a hierarchy where everyone wins… unless you’re Human.
Needless to say, the Humans aren’t exacly pleased with their predicament, and have been fighting to free themselves for quite some time. The Alliance Alive‘s begins its story off by showcasing that desire for liberation in full effect, with childhood friends and Night Ravens — a resistance group committed to overthrowing the Daemons — members Galil and Azura being sent off to deliver a message containing important information to a nearby guild. Surprisingly, the delivery goes smoothly. Unfortunately, things go south rather quickly after Galil and Azura decide to sneak into a recently discovered ancient museum, only to be discovered and attacked by a high-ranking Daemon — an event which ultimately causes Azura to become blind.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever described a video game’s story as “good, old-fashioned” before, but that’s what The Alliance Alive‘s story is. It presents to its players a narrative that is familiar, but in a comforting way. I have yet to run into a part of the story that “utterly shocks me”, or turns out in a way that I didn’t expect. Still, I don’t really mind. I enjoy a quality “good vs evil” story from time to time — especially when it’s coming from a game like this. And really, that’s all that matters. Video game stories are supposed to be enjoyable, regardless of what else they are. And this game’s story is just that.
It doesn’t take long to figure out that The Alliance Alive contains within itself a big, big world. The game presents players with a sprawling world map, packed with plenty of things to discover. Alongside the areas more pertinent to the game’s progression are a number of optional locations — some more friendly than others — to explore, such as guild towers, dungeons, and towns. The world map itself also features a number of unique discoveries waiting to be made, and very much rewards player exploration. Just make sure to save before diving into anything that looks strange. Optional boss battles are tough right from the very beginning!
Dungeons within the game hit players with a heavy dose of nostalgia as well. The ancient corridors and dark caves, and lush forests are generally not only packed with monsters, but also with hidden secrets. Although some of these secrets are as simple as walking through a fake wall (I’ve only run into one of those so far, no need to worry too much), others require a bit more finesse, such as the time-related puzzles in the ancient museum. None of the puzzles (thus far) left me tearing out my hair, but a few did require some thought. In my opinion, The Alliance Alive‘s puzzles are well-balanced, and do a great job of preventing dungeons from being monotonous walking simulators.
A Legacy of Combat
If you’re interested in The Alliance Alive, then there’s a good chance that you’ve played it’s The Legend of Legacy. In terms of combat, The Alliance Alive‘s turn-based combat isn’t too far removed from that of its predecessor. Party member positioning once again plays a vital role in the flow of battle. Players are able to set their party members up in offensive, defensive, or support positions, with each position granting special bonuses. The row in which each character is placed also bestows certain effects, such as party members in the front drawing more aggro. Truthfully, mastering the positioning mechanics takes some work. It’s easy to overlook certain things in the heat of battle, and it can sometimes be hard to figure out which characters and weapons are best suited for which positions. Fortunately, The Alliance Alive is more straightforward and forgiving about its mechanics than The Legend of Legacy was. So long as you don’t mind a bit of trial and error, it shouldn’t take long to get things down.
Leveling up in The Alliance Alive also works similarly to how it did in The Legend of Legacy. Rather than gaining experience, characters grow according to how they fight. Characters who tank hits with shields will see a sharp increase in HP, for example, while spellcasters may see their SP growing more quickly compared to other party members. Because of this more player-focused approach to growth, The Alliance Alive allows players to shape their party how they see fit. …At least, in part. While certain stats do increase depending on how characters fight, each character’s base stats — made up of things like Strength, Endurance, and Agility — are pre-set. Because of this, you can only go so far with the customization, making things like a greatsword-wielding Azura less-than-optimal.
The Fun has Only Just Begun
I’ve greatly enjoyed my journey so far with Galil, Azura, and the rest of the gang, and I can’t wait to see wait to see how the rest of the game pans out. And, although I may not know how the rest of the journey unfolds, there is one thing that already I’m certain of — The Alliance Alive has all the makings of a modern-day “classic” JRPG.