Alliteration in HD
A few years ago, FuRyu launched The Alliance Alive on the Nintendo 3DS. It was a celebration of classic RPGs with a flair of modernity. It was a clever little RPG that we rated a positive 90% thanks to its artsy setting, interesting plot with dueling narratives, and a strong sound outing. The Alliance Alive served the 3DS well, and contributed to the handheld’s overwhelming collection of quality RPGs. Then, when everyone was ready to leave The Alliance Alive with the 3DS as Nintendo puts it to rest, NIS America & company decided to publish a remastered edition of the cult favorite RPG. Since 2018 and 2019 have been the years of the remaster, a move like this makes sense. But how often do we see a Nintendo handheld game transition to the PS4?
Before we touch upon my fears and whether they were eased, we should quickly review the content of The Alliance Alive. You control an array of characters, beginning with young Galil and Azura and swapping narrative perspectives with Vivian and Ignace (along with the assorted characters who travel with them). The world is divided by the Dark Current, and the inhabitants, particularly the humans, have little idea whether others exist outside of their world. Hell, Galil and his friends don’t even know or believe in a blue sky. Worse yet, Daemons control the land and treat humans as less than animals. When Galil and Azura embark on a simple quest to inspect an ancient facility, they quickly draw the ire of the Daemon overlords. From there, the story unfolds into an intricate tale that runs about 30 hours.
Combat in The Alliance Alive features a unique take on classic turn based action, something that has typically been sorely lacking on the PS4 (excluding the typical Kemco endeavor). Characters can wield an array of weapons and can spend talent points increasing proficiency with them. Doing so allows them to learn new skills quicker or cut the SP expenditure of a skill by 1 or more, for example. Once Ignition is built with each character, they can use a special skill that deals massive damage (which easily killed the first two bosses with one swipe) but also breaks the weapon that character was using. There aren’t really any experience points; characters have a set chance to increase HP, SP, level up abilities, etc. after each battle, and you can spend more talent points on increasing those chances.
Visually, it’s difficult to tell that The Alliance Alive began as a 3DS exclusive. The remaster does such a nice job of smoothing out the enlarged images that you couldn’t easily tell the game was, in fact, redone – let alone shifted from a handheld to a console. And I review all games on the same 55’’ 4k HDR LG television. This one looks great on the PS4. Of course, if the art style isn’t to your liking, it’s irrelevant how well the team accomplished this feat. For me, the art direction has always been superb – a type of artist’s sketch up, complete with etch lines and all. It’s reminiscent of Bravely Default/Second in character sprites and visual style. In other words, it is something that will most likely age well, like Wind Walker, for example.
What sticks for me, more than anything else, is that there has been a sore lack of traditional RPGs for me to enjoy on PS4. This isn’t to say that there aren’t good RPGs – there are plenty and more, thankfully. There just aren’t many that harken to RPGs of old, the ones that inspired so many of us. The Alliance Alive does this well, but innovates enough of its style and gameplay to work on its own without needing to rely on nostalgia. It’s a game that I loved on the 3DS and loved more so on the PS4.
If you’re wondering whether you should pony up for this one, I’d highly recommend it. The main story takes about 30 hours to complete, and you’ll spend much and more going after 100% completion/platinum. Pure fans of turn based RPGs have plenty in the combat to keep them interested, and there are speed up options available for combat if it’s not your thing. The level of effort poured into The Alliance Alive HD Remaster is clear – and PS4 RPG fans should rejoice at the opportunity to play this newly shined gem.