I had always heard there was an amazing library of JRPGs on the 3DS but never truly dabbled in what was on offer. Outside of Pokémon and eventually Fire Emblem, my 3DS remained criminally underutilized. Until I played the Switch port of The World Ends With You, I never appreciated what gems the 3DS had to offer. Now I have been able to check out The Alliance Alive on Switch I can honestly say that I should have spent more time on the 3DS, and less time fanboying over my Vita, so thank god for the work NIS has been doing by bringing this gem to the Switch.
The Alliance Alive has a world that has been fractured by massive walls thanks to a race of Daemons. Before the game kicks off these Daemons have ruled over the world for 1000 years where their invasion caused the sky to be darkened among other colossal climate issues. The story starts with Azura and Galil, two humans who are exploring, when they start uncovering some information about the mysteries of the world. A lot of events suddenly take place where Azura is blinded by a battle with a Daemon, and after returning to her father they find their village is being ransacked by Daemons. This is because Azuras father is the leader of the Night Crows, a resistance group, and the small group quickly escapes via the undercover bunker.
Soon after you take control of a Daemon historian call Vivan and her butler who pop down to earth for research purposes. If you have read many of my reviews, I hate spoiling plot points with a passion, but I felt this is an important inclusion because it starts to give an idea of where this story goes. Throughout its plot you will take control of Daemons, humans and a monster soldier as the initially obvious looking plot gets a whole lot deeper. This is the game's biggest strength. The characters have a genuine feel which can early on come off as JRPG tropes, but they become surprisingly rounded by the end. As I say, I don't like spoiling plots so I will leave that one there.
When it comes to the gameplay, The Alliance Alive is basic in many ways. Where you place your characters on the field has an impact on how they fight, but for the most part it is a turn based JRPG that is exactly what you picture in a JRPG. The coolest aspect is the ability to use an ultimate attack that comes when a battle looks close to end. What your character does is sacrifice their weapon to unleash the power of a huge attack. There were plenty of times I rolled the dice on getting taken out, so I didn’t sacrifice a good weapon, but other times it was worth it to get out of that sticky situation.
The weirdest aspect of the game is how you level up. Characters don’t level up, but their attributes do depend on how they are fighting in battle. I never totally understood the system here, but whether a character was healing, or attacking with a certain weapon determined how they skilled up, and what skills they learned. You can switch weapons easily which was a fun aspect of the game, and each weapon class such as spear or sword, would gain more powerful abilities.
With some of these JRPGs one of the biggest hooks after its story is its style which The Alliance Alive has in spades. Outside of a beautifully designed soundtrack, the aesthetic uses a simple beautiful cell shaded style. It has bizarre proportions involving big heads and small feet that looks unique yet familiar. In a world where design only shows in the level of detail, to have such a unique style is something awesome.
The Alliance Alive HD Remastered is an awesome JRPG that is well worth checking out if you didn’t play the game on 3DS. It’s familiar in so many ways, yet unique in so many more for better and worse. It’s one of those JRPGs that will appeal to fans of the genre, but probably only fans of the genre.