Alvastia Chronicles Review – Paint By Numbers JRPG

There is not a single part of this game that was what I thought it would be. There’s something to be said that I had a significant bias going into this thinking it was going to be an extremely shallow mobile port spit out to make a quick buck, instead I got what feels like a passion project by a misguided teenager. It’s a Final Fantasy rip off, through and through, from the plotline of protecting four crystals from four fiends, to the two frame idle animations on the NPCs and the turn based combat. It at least does some fairly unique stuff with the combat, but ultimately I spent most of my ten hours with this game reeling from the entirely unsubtle brother-sister incest plotline and the painfully tropey cast.

Superficially awful

The writing of this game is kind of awful, but a special kind of awful that transcends train-wreck syndrome. There’s no edge to cut yourself on, no so-bad-its-good humor, no stupid, but loveable characters, only painful and often audible groans. The four heroes each exemplify their own stale tropes ripped straight from the worst anime you’ve ever seen with the elf character Gil being particularly awful. A character that holds the misogynistic woman chaser trope to such standards it often comes off as pitiful rather than the comic relief character he’s intended to be. Only the main character is ok, but only because he doesn’t speak as a plot device, and even that gets old pretty quickly as every NPC and their mother brings it up. You’re also thrown into an incest plotline that is so forced down your throat that you’ll be begging onii-chan to end it all. Pretty much every piece of writing in the game is a regurgitation of something old, with no facade of change whatsoever.

Between the imitation retro visual style and the crunchy MIDIs, the presentation is just as boring, and sometimes as headache inducing as the plot. I can’t think of a single exemplary song from all seven in the game, or a single sprite that stood out as quality work. And aside from all the “retro” music and sound effects, there’s also an inexplicable slide whistle when you jump from a small cliff. Quality. The NPCs were actually fairly diverse, more so than any of the classic Final Fantasy games from the SNES era, but ironically enough, there are less unique NPCs than there are generics, a carryover from the one unique aspect of the game.

A single crystal among the trash

The game probably knew it wasn’t going to win any awards for presentation or story, and probably just threw them together to fulfill the gimmick of the game. The three main fighters take up certain roles, tanky warrior, strong barbarian, and a mage, but each can be supplemented by the companion system. As you explore the world you meet various NPCs that will join your party, but not as frontline fighters. Instead each character can equip up to three companions that bolster various stats and grant unique moves based on the companions class. There are even a few unique companions gained through the story. This idea works fairly well but the companion abilities are never as strong as the main characters, meaning that any semblance of party synergy is thrown out for raw DPS. There are some fun tactics that I experimented with, but they were all very circumstantial at best, and by the end of the game it became buff, attack, heal, rinse, repeat. The game was also incredibly easy on the normal difficulty, and I was spending more time in the auto-attack mode than actually hitting buttons, only stopping to strategize on a handful of endgame bosses.

On the hard and extreme difficulty modes enemies gain increased health and damage, which can make the game a lot more of a slog if you’re playing it the way any normal person would. Using every advantage I came across through the game was more than sufficient for normal, but I was getting tossed by normal enemies on the field when playing on hard. The game also has this weird gacha system where it actually just gives you the premium currency through battles now and then (although they will still gladly sell you the currency on the eShop). The gacha system randomly gives you weapons, armor, and companions, most of which are stupid overpowered, and on my first try in the early game I got a companion that could do 4000 damage compared to the main characters 40. Needless to say I never touched that system afterwards if not just to cash out my 20+ earned draws at the end just to see what I got. I don’t feel like I should have to tread a line between too easy and grindy, let alone having to pay to experience the intended difficulty. Otherwise if you play a little more conservatively and hold yourself back, you may get a reasonable challenge out of the game, but that shouldn’t be your responsibility.

Nothing for no one

I felt a little bit of Stockholm syndrome to say the least, and by the end of it I don’t think I hated it, but I certainly didn’t like it. It felt confused, and at risk to sound like a pompous ass, entirely amateurish. If any one of the elements were able to flourish or even just flounder then maybe this game would be worth it, but I don’t think this game is for anyone, not gem seekers, not dumpster divers.

System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.

Disclaimer: A review code was provided by KEMCO.

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