Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jul 292019
 

On the weekend, I finished playing The Alliance Alive.

I’m surprised I never blogged about this game beyond a passing reference, because when I played The Alliance Alive’s 3DS demo, I loved it and immediately knew I wanted the game.

The developers previously made Legend of Legacy, a turn-based RPG that lost my interest when I learned it has virtually no story. Then came The Alliance Alive, which was essentially billed as “Legend of Legacy, but with a story this time.”

Indeed, while the story in The Alliance Alive isn’t groundbreaking, it’s a full plot with a large cast of enjoyable characters. Set in a world that has been divided into multiple realms by the Great Barrier, a construct put in place by the Daemons who rule over humans, it follows several groups of characters whose paths eventually converge and set them on a quest to unite the realms.

(Although I didn’t mention The Alliance Alive when I learned about Quartet, this is another example of that style.)

Some of the character development is a little rushed, but I loved the characters and their interactions. There are a lot of little moments that helped bring them to life, and it really seems like the developers wanted The Alliance Alive to feel like a classic JRPG.

Pacing in general is a bit odd, with quick, short chapters that only occasionally slow down.

However, when you want a break from the fast plot progression, there is plenty of reason to explore. The Alliance Alive is filled with secrets and optional challenges, as well as one of my favorite things: character recruitment. After a certain point, you’re able to recruit NPCs to join the alliance, in a system that reminded me of recruiting characters in Suikoden.

(This might be due to the scenario writer being Yoshitaka Murayama, who also worked on the Suikoden series.)

Gameplay is a bit unusual. It’s a turn-based JRPG, yes, but instead of leveling up in a traditional fashion, your attacks level up as you use them and unlock new skills as you fight. I like this, because it ends up somewhat tailored to your gameplay style (even if the unlocks have at least some degree of randomness). There are a lot of little odd design decisions, but overall it’s really fun.

Aside from my comment about the pacing, the only thing I disliked about the game is that the dungeons got less interesting as they went on.

Early dungeons have puzzles, something I miss in JRPGs. Later dungeons, however, are more content to throw a bunch of powerful enemies at you so you can either challenge yourself by fighting them or try to avoid them. I wish there were more dungeons like the earlier ones.

But that’s a minor quibble about an otherwise great game, and if the developers make another story-focused JRPG, I’ll be there day one.

If you like classic turn-based JRPGs, I highly recommend The Alliance Alive for the 3DS or its upcoming HD remaster for the Switch, PS4, and Steam.

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