Hey gang, Valkor here. Before the first Bravely Default was released, I was a little out of it when it came to JRPGs; I think it was mainly due to me not paying much attention to the scene or maybe offerings in the genre were pretty slim. Afterward, I’ve played through both Defaults and even Battle Chasers filled a gap that’s been missing in my RPG life. And then “The Alliance Alive” stepped in. And while it looks and feels a lot like a Bravely Default game, it does enough to stand out on its own. Check it out.
Alliance Alive follows nine heroes as they attempt to take on beings known as the Daemons (in fact a couple of Daemons will join in on the journey), who also use beastfolks as their enforcers. It turns out about 1,000 years prior, Daemons came along, blotting out the sun and took over the human race. To make matters worse, the lands are divided by a deadly dark current brimming with nasties should anyone draw near. And now it’s up to Azura, Galil, and crew to save humanity and bring about peace amongst the land.
"Alliance Alive" plays out like your typical RPG. However, it differs in how you level up. You don’t gain experience or level up in the traditional sense. But your characters get stronger after battles where they would gain HP/SP or their special attacks strengthen. The game also uses a feature called “awakening”, which is how they’ll learn new special attacks depending on what weapon they wield. You can choose amongst seven types including swords, axes, and spears, which any character can wield; you can also fight with your fist if you wish. If things get too intense in battle, characters will use Ignition, which will allow them to perform a “Final Strike”. Not only is this a powerful move, but it’ll also break your weapon. So it’s good idea to keep extra weapons on hand. At the end of each battle, you gain talent points, which you can apply towards becoming more proficient in certain weapons or awakening new skills. You start out with a nice chunk of points but you don’t gain as much when battling monsters. And this can be a slow process as some skills take thousands of points and you’ll probably only gain 10 – 15 talent points per battle.
Another interesting concept about "Alliance Alive" is how the game handles health; you have two types you must deal with – maximum health and current health. Maximum health is the amount of health a character has. However, current health is what a character is left with after they’re downed in battle or hit with an enemy's special attack. At the start of a battle, you can have a character with a max health of 200, but the enemies can either drop your max through attacks or deal further damage when you’re down. Thankfully, this is just a temporary effect and you can regain max health when you visit an inn. And speaking of health, you can’t use health items on the open map – you can only use them during combat AND you can only use them if they’re equipped. So this becomes one of the many choices you’ll have to make when you're heading out to grind – do you equip your character with an accessory that might be useful in combat or do you equip a health item? I prefer equipping health items when nearing a boss battle and accessories when battling monsters on the open map.
Alliance Alive is pretty linear in its structure, but it uses a top-down, open-world mechanic as you progress. On the world map, you can see your enemies (rather than dealing with random battles), which brings us to another unique mechanic about the game – the towers. As you explore the open world, you’ll discover different towers that’ll aid you in battle. Each tower offers up a different offensive or defensive effect. However, they usually react at a time when you really don’t need them. For the most part, a tower will step in right when I’m about to clean things up, so then it becomes an unnecessary extra step. But when they do hit, it's at just the right moment.
The Alliance Alive, while it might appear pretty standard amongst RPGs, does enough to set itself apart from the rest; whether that’s a good or bad thing that’ll be up to the players. But for now, let’s dive into my thoughts with the TOV Breakdown.
The Alliance Alive is a charming adventure that took some time getting used to, but overall it was a pleasant and entertaining experience. The new mechanics were hit and miss, but it’s the story that’ll keep you interested. What I really enjoyed the most was how it shows the same opening sequence but from different perspectives. The towers coming into play, again, it's hit and miss, but its something different and when it works it works! Graphically, the game looks familiar (Bravely Default), but that’s definitely not a negative because it’s still pretty to look at. But I’d prefer the character designs to the backdrops any day. I just think it’s funny that most characters don’t have feet. Combat is pretty smooth and I’m always game when I can play an RPG where every character can use any weapon; I don’t have to focus on class or race, just give them a weapon and go! Finally, the music isn’t all that much but what’s there works and matches with whatever is going on. In the end, The Alliance alive is a fun romp that’s definitely worth the play through. I think more could have been done, but what was given was certainly worth my time.
I’m not a fan of the health system with the whole max/current deal. I’d have preferred a traditional system because what’s given is a bit confusing at first. You’ll adjust but it’s just strange that I can’t use health items when I’d like. And while I think the towers are cool, for the most part, they’re useless in that they don’t activate until the battle is near completed or they kick in when the enemies you’re facing can be easily taken out. What would work best is if you can use the touchscreen to activate a tower at your leisure as opposed to the system choosing for you. If there’s a new Alliance Alive game, that should definitely be an option.
The Alliance Alive is available now for the Nintendo 3DS; it’s something different that even with its fault is still fun to play. The story will certainly keep your interest, however, there are some play mechanics that will take some getting used to. In the end, out of TOV 5 stars, I’m giving The Alliance Alive a 3.5.