The Alliance Alive HD Remastered PS4 Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: JRPG
 
Rating: PG
 
Release Date: 18th October 2019
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
3.5/5


User Rating
1 total rating

 

Positives


- Expressive chibi characters
- Strategic battle system
- Streamlined gameplay

Negatives


- No new content over 3DS original (apart from enhanced visuals)
- Can be difficult to navigate overworld
- No voice acting


Posted November 7, 2019 by

 
Full Article
 
 

The Alliance Alive was originally released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2018. It is a traditional JRPG which, by all accounts, should have attracted more attention than it received. Due to dwindling 3DS sales and the success of the Switch the title went largely unnoticed by many. Thankfully, the HD remaster gives the game another chance in the spotlight.

One thousand years before the start of the game, the world of mankind was invaded by Daemons. During the conflict, a barrier known as the Dark Current was erected which darkened the sky and divided the land into different realms. The Daemons quickly established a hierarchy where humans are considered the lowest lifeforms and must obey the other races. Fast forward to the present day and players are introduced to the Night Crows, a group who wish to restore humanity’s former glory and defeat the Daemons.

The story focuses on nine characters who are initially split into three factions. Players are first introduced to Galil and Azura, childhood friends who dream of seeing a blue sky and find themselves on a misadventure. The pair are joined by Renzo and Barbarosa, two soldiers who are loyal to Azura’s father. The second faction consists of Vivian, a Daemon who is interested in the human world, her Daemon Butler Ignace, and Professor Tiggy, a human who is studying the Dark Current. Last but not least is Gene, a man who is trying to win favour by serving the Daemons and Rachel, a hunter who likes adventure. The three factions come together about a third way through the story, forming an alliance.

While the  basic premise of The Alliance Alive isn’t unique, what makes it engaging are the personalities of each character. Quite often you’ll see the characters bickering amongst themselves, flattering each other or apologising for mistakes they have made. Dialog is text based, which would normally mean emotions aren’t conveyed like they would be with voice acting. Thankfully the characters are very expressive; showing tears, frowns and smiles. It’s a joy to watch unfold and goes a long way in making the world feel alive.

The Alliance Alive features an open world which players can explore. There are lots of hidden pathways to discover which lead to chests, items, caves, buildings and minor puzzles. Vehicles are used to travel over certain terrain, such as Tiggy’s duck robot which is resistant to heat and can traverse through lava fields, and a flying machine that you use to glide over mountains. The game’s environments are varied and are a joy to explore, never becoming repetitive and constantly throwing new ideas at players. It can sometimes be hard to navigate to new towns and special areas however, as the mini-map only displays points of interest that you have previously visited. When it comes to story objectives, you are normally only given the general direction you should travel via dialog from one of the characters.

Like many traditional RPGs, monsters will appear in the environments and when you touch them a battle will commence. If there are multiple enemies in the immediate vicinity a chain battle will commence, where you must fight multiple battles one after the other without resting or healing. Battles are turn-based but there are several mechanics which sets The Alliance Alive apart from other JRPGs. Firstly, characters do not gain traditional experience and level up. Instead characters gain random stat boosts, such as health and SP which is used to unleash special attacks. At the end of each battle characters are automatically healed. You also have the option to speed up battles to make them two or four times as fast and there’s an auto battle option where characters will automatically use their previously used attack. Due to these mechanics battles typically last only a few seconds and there is no need to grind experience to be able to progress to the next area. This allows for the game to focus more on exploration and the actual story, arguably making it one of the less alienating JRPGs on the market. The speed up and auto battle feature also makes the game friendly for repeated playthroughs, particularly if you have already played the original 3DS version.

The Alliance Alive also has a Formation system which plays a key role during battles. The way it works is your party (and the enemy) have three line formations and each character’s position will influence how effective their attacks are and the type of bonus they will receive. For example, characters in the frontline will have boosted defense, middle line characters will have boosted attack power and those in the back will have boosted support abilities such as healing. You will have various predetermined formations that you can use throughout the campaign. Other than choosing which character fills in which spot however, you cannot create your own custom formations. The system is easy to ignore in the early parts of the game, but after a few hours you will start feeling the pressure of how much of an impact it actually makes. Don’t get too attached to using the auto battle and speed up features, take your time to adequately learn what formations work best for different scenarios. It will save you having to repeat some fights later!

By default characters are equipped with two weapons and have base level proficiency using them. There are several different varieties on offer including swords, shields, greatswords, spears, bows and staffs, and these can be freely assigned to any character. Each weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses, such as the bow offering high attack power but also being unable to defend the user from enemy attacks. It’s good to make sure your party of up to five characters has a variety of weapon types as this will come handy when strategising how to tackle enemies, particularly bosses. Weapon proficiency can be improved by spending Talent Points, which are awarded after completing battles. Talent Points can also be used to increase damage output, use less SP when unleashing special attacks and allow you to sneak up on enemies in the overworld so that you can make the first strike when battling. You will initially have only one or two attacks for each weapon, but much like the stat boost, characters will randomly learn new abilities completely on the fly.

Visually the game has benefited greatly from being ported to home consoles. The chibi-style character models and water coloured environments all look pleasing in HD. They’re not quite up to the same standard as other titles such as Ni No Kuni and its sequel, but they’re clearer than the 3DS version and look great on the TV screen. The music is sadly unmemorable, but pleasant and fits the tone of the adventure.

One minor issue with the HD remaster is that it doesn’t feature any voice acting whatsoever, even in the cutscenes. It just seems a bit off when playing this game on the big screen. Also, apart from the HD visuals there is no new content or enhancements of any kind. It’s more or less a straight port of the 3DS version which may disappoint some.

The Alliance Alive HD Remastered is a pleasant JRPG. While its story is predictable and the overworld map can be a bit confusing to navigate at times, the characters are lovable and the battle system has been streamlined to avoid unnecessary grinding but also has a lot of strategic elements to take advantage of. If you’re a JPRG fan and missed its original release on the Nintendo 3DS, then you will not be disappointed.

 

Rocket Chainsaw reviewed The Alliance Alive HD Remastered on an original PS4 system. It is also available on Nintendo Switch.


Joseph Rositano

 
While Joseph's main hobby has always centered around video games, he's also taken an interest in movies, musicals and traveling around the world. No one quite knows what Joseph's true motivations are, but rest assured he is always planning his next grand adventure!