Switch version tested
Review code provided
Alvastiva Chronicles is the latest JRPG from publisher KEMCO and follows the story of Elmia and Alan in a tale of retribution and the quest to restore peace. Don’t be fooled by it’s super cute and modern looking anime thumbnail tile as this game is full-blown nineties retro and wreaks of the early entries in the Final Fantasy series. The excellent KEMCO are no strangers to releasing quality content which is backed up by the fact that they been in the industry since the mid-’80s. Their first release, Dough Boy, hit the Nintendo Entertainment System so it’s great to see them back in 2019 on Nintendo’s latest console offering. Safe to say we are in good hands, let us begin!
Our story kicks off with a flashback, Elmia and her older brother Alan witness the death of their parents at the hands of a mysterious stranger. It was a truly heartbreaking and an incomprehensible event that mere children should never be subjected to. We jump forward ten years and our duo are grown up. A similar event unfolds and the gears slowly clunk into motion as the pair set out on the most epic of journeys to rid Alvastia of the evil that has ravaged the once beautiful land. Creatures, monsters and the unruly will all stand ferociously in their way but this is a storyline where good must prevail. This isn’t a task for the faint-hearted, an army must be gathered, people that share the same end goal must work in unison and save the day. The road is long, new skills, strengths and powers will need to be mastered.
The visual used in the game is very traditional. Simple, crisp and large pixelated sprite-based characters that live in a vast world connected by an equally retro overworld map system. It’s easy to become lost in the moment and think that you are re-playing one of the early Final Fantasy games. This is a positive though. Everything feels familiar, the way in which the text boxes look, the world map, the switch to combat and screen wipes used. Everything is solid with a fitting soundtrack to accompany adding a level of polish.
As you traverse the land the aim is to sign up new companions to fight by your side, Alvastia Chronicles boats a whopping 100+ to enrol. Every town, cave, settlement or wherever you find the story takes you it is important to talk to as many of the folk that reside as possible. Most will offer to join after a short interaction but others are a little more complicated to snag and require certain criteria to be met. This is a fun addition to the game and offers the incentive needed to revisit already looted areas. It is a great nod to some of the classic offerings and very much akin to what we experienced in the legendary Suikoden and its sequel.
The combat system opted for here again stays true to the roots of the best examples from the RPG genre and delivers high-octane brawls to the death in a gripping turn-based affair. You can set up with a party of 13 members so it is definitely one that needs to be micromanaged if you want the best results. Certain characters work better with others and level up at greater rates, its a fine balancing act. Progress in the game also unlocks special abilities while collecting new weapons, items and treasure. Bonds is the method to connect companions and if done right will give a little extra boost on the battlefield. At the beginning, you are given the option to play Alvastia Chronicles on easy which negates a lot of the need to delve into this aspect of the game which is handy if you just wanted to experience the thrilling storyline.
Alvastia Chronicles has some great quality of life touches. The world map is reasonably large but marks places of interest that you have previously frequented, can’t be bothered with all the random battles en route back? well, use the warp function. Within the submenus there are some handy aids that will give you advice, not sure on the best equipment or loadout then let the game decide. More so than all of these though is the ability to jump in and hit the save slot at any point, it can be a real lifesaver just don’t wait too long in between playing as this is all about the story.
Alvastia Chronicles on the Nintendo Switch is a well-made JRPG that has a great storyline and likeable characters. There’s a lot of game for the money, it never quite reaches the heights of the all-time classics but it gets a lot right. With an interesting companion system and fun combat, it is easy to recommend. Additionally, Alvastia is available on all current-gen formats and even mobile platforms so it’s ever been easier to play!