The story of Alvastia Chronicles is nothing that will be winning any rewards for being amazing. In saying that, it reminds me of the older RPGs from the early ’90s. Little story and gameplay is what’s important.
A millennium ago, the Alvastias live in the land below that seemed to be like Earth, until the Archfiend attacked. All the fighting made the below world uninhabitable for the people living there. Then, god-like beings descended to the world and raised pillars with land masses upon them.
Ten years ago, the pillars were attacked, and this is where the protagonist’s parents were murdered – in the attack which rendered Alan mute. He still, however, swore to protect his sister, Elmia. One day, while patrolling the surrounding area around Sirhyus Village on Roslond Continent, Alan and Elmia encounter the monster who killed their parents.
This encounter leads to a story of revenge for their parents, as well as to stop the monsters from invading the pillars and restore the tranquil lifestyle of Alvastia. Amassing an army of over 100 companions, will the siblings be strong enough to stop the monster and avenge their fallen parents?
Being initially a mobile game, Alvastia Chronicles has a lot of depth to it. I have not played the mobile version, so I cannot compare the two, but there are a few things in the game that shows its mobile roots.
Being a JRPG, as well as a 16-bit retro styled game, the controls are straightforward: move Alan around the screen in a four directional way (up, down, left, and right), pressing A will allow you to interact with NPCs and is used as select in the menu and battles, B is cancel, X is open menu, and + is options. A general layout for almost all JRPGs.
Alvastia Chronicles has battles aplenty, and it takes a more classical approach with random encounter battles. Random encounters are something I love, even if they happen A LOT. I was playing and had two fights within two steps on the world map, not a problem for me, although I could see some players getting annoyed with them.
Once in the battle, it is as every other turn based JRPG goes. Each character and enemy attacks one at a time and the order of attack will be determined by the speed of each character or enemy. The player line up consists of three party members and their companions, being vanguard (in front) and rearguard (at the back). Each character can attack, use skills and items, flee, and swop.
There is, however, a few slight differences with how some of the actions work. Skills are not based on magic points but have a set amount of uses per battle; a weaker ability could be used twelve times in a fight, whereas a stronger one can only be used once – these reset after each battle. Items that heal or temporarily boost a statistic can only be used in battles; health is also restored after a battle as well as any debuff. Swopping changes the currently selected character from rearguard to vanguard.
There are two nice additions to the battle system: a speed up allowing 3x speed and auto attack, letting the party attack with no inputs from the player. These make trash mobs easier and faster to go through. A much needed feature, more so with the number of random encounters there are.
After winning a fight, at times, loot will be dropped. These randomly drop: there is money, chests, ALP, and tickets.
Level Up and Strategy Room
The level up system for the characters remains simple – to get enough EXP (experience points) and the characters get stronger with set increases to the statistics as well as unlocking new skills at different levels.
Later on in the game, you will unlock the strategy room. This room allows for companions to level up in fights without being there, as well as also augmenting the attack and healing abilities used.
Alvastia Chronicles boasts a large roster of over 100 companions and is a Pokémon style collection game where you don’t catch the companions, they join you after a quick chat (that’s one way to obtain them). This simple mechanic drives the game forward and is the main focus of Alvastia Chronicles.
These companions are the essential resource in the game; they determine a lot of the battles. Each has its job role, for example, Villager, Bard, Mage, and Pet to name a few. The jobs determine the abilities of each companion, the bonds it can make, and the type of attack it is good at: physical or magic.
Bonds and Hope Stones
When a companion levels up, they get the standard level up of stats and new abilities, but you can also level them up again using Hope Stones. Companions can be leveled up again to the same level as their current level (at level ten, I could level up the companion to level ten again using Hope Stones, augmenting its power even further). Hope Stones are required when you recruit a new companion, a random drop in battle and can also be purchased in a ‘Shop’.
Hope Stones are also used to unlock Bonds. Bonds can make the difference between winning and losing a boss battle or a hard fight. When equipping companions to your characters (three per character), it is in your best interest to look at the available bonds you can use or, if enough Hope Stones, buy to suit the preferred play style. Essentially, bonds are buffs given to the party when equipped and have the necessary jobs to activate, e.g. “Magic Swordsman requires a Warrior and a Mage to use and will occasionally, fire is cast when using a normal attack“. Only the vanguard bond will be active within the party, making Swap useful depending on the fight.
Equipment and Synthesizing
Equipment is simple to understand, weapon, head, and body, these can be bought from a shop or won (more on that in The Shop section of the review). The weapons, however, can be upgraded by Synthesizing, to do this, you need a base weapon (the one that’s getting improved) and at least one other weapon of the same type, the base weapon will level up, increasing its base attack stat. Along with the level up, there is a chance that the base weapon will adopt, if present on the weapons used as materials, one status effect. These range from attack boost, to status effects.
Synthesizing is one of the mechanics of the game that needs to be utilised to make the game easier.
There are three types of shops to use on the adventure: the first two are weapon and item shops. These shops use in-game money that you get from battles or selling items that you no longer need.
The last shop can be located in the menu screen. It is just called Shop. When clicked, the game will save, and you will be taken to a store page with Buy Item, Play Pillar Killers, and Purchase Premium Additional Content.
Buy Item – Allows you to buy unique items with the use of ALP (Alvastia Points). ALP is obtained after every three fights and can be found in chests. These unique items can be used for permanent buffs to stats or to unlock hidden and unique content.
Play Pillar Killers – As a battle reward, you can receive tickets, these tickets are redeemed for a regular game of Play Pillar Killers, where you can win a weapon or a companion. Also, ALP can be used to play a unique game (this increases the odds of better items you can win).
Purchase Premium Additional Content – buy double EXP and damage, and enable an option allowing to control the encounter rate.
Rewards and Chests
While playing, you will get rewards for doing specific actions like collect ten companions, kill 100 enemies, and etc; it’s a nice addition to the game and makes doing activities rewarding.
Chests can be gained after battles; at any one time, you can hold up to four of them. Once obtained, there will be a time limit set before being able to open them. Keys to open the chests are obtained through the ALP shop. Chests can be wooden, metal silver, gold, or platinum. The better the rating, the better the stuff you can get.
The core gameplay is excellent and fun; the chance to win companions and weapons can break the game. When I started the game, within the first two hours of play, I won an Ultra Rare companion at level 35. The mobs then were level 10 – not only that, I got three weapons that are too overpowered for the area.
I know this is chance, and i don’t have to use them, but its how the game is designed you equip the best Items you have. It is just a shame it was not level appropriate per area, so you do not get something way overpowered.
The audio for Alvastia Chronicles is reminiscent of the SNES-era games, with the 16-bit music style. It put me in the mind of these RPGs. For me, it was great; I love 16-bit music. I will gladly listen to music outside of the game. The sound effects, again, are 16-bit sound style.
Not everyone will be enamoured with the 16-bit music or sound effects. They are in no way as in-depth or outstanding as it is not as detailed as the sounds produced today. For myself and others that grew up with the SNES, it will be a breath of fresh air.
Visuals & Performance
With this installment of KEMCO’s impressively growing library of games on the Switch, it has been taken down visually by a step. Keeping in line with the style of the 16-bit era, the game adopts a similar aesthetic view with the sprites being pixelated. I love this style. When entering a fight the sprites are more detailed, reminding me of Final Fantasy 6 detail, and there is nothing wrong with that.
When it comes to the dialogue between the party characters, it is done in a visual novel style, beautiful hand-drawn characters.
With the performance, nothing at all was a problem; no slow downs, no stutters. It ran smooth as could be in both handheld and docked. I played this in docked mode.
Alvastia Chronicles has been priced correctly at $12.99 USD, £11.69GBP. Being a KEMCO game, at least you will be getting a decent length game with plenty to do, and here is no different.
Like RPGs that are different? Check out our review of Halcyon 6.
100 collectable companions
Well paced story
Plenty to keep you busy
Some companions can make the game too easy