STAFF REVIEW of Alvastia Chronicles (Xbox One)

Friday, February 22, 2019.
by Adam Dileva

Alvastia Chronicles Box art It seems KEMCO has been having some success with porting their previously released PC and mobile RPG’s over to Xbox One, as it seems nearly every month or two a new title is released for console fans. For classic RPG fans, this is a great thing, as there’s always an influx of new titles to play and enjoy, though sometimes the quality can sometimes be hit or miss. With their newest release, Alvastia Chronicles, my interested was piqued, as I grew up with classic RPG’s, so I truly appreciate the retro inspired pixel graphics and traditional gameplay. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with Alvastia Chronicles initially though to be honest, but I’m glad I sat down and gave it a chance, as I enjoyed it all the way until the credits rolled, fulfilling that retro niche that needs a scratch now and then.

The world of Alvastia is under the protection of 4 magical crystals, that is, until once day on of the crystals is shattered, unleashing demons into the world and terrorizing citizens. These crystals also act as a barrier to hold back the evil Archfiend Valhyt from coming to the world to destroy it. While the Archfiend himself may be held back from returning to Alvastia, his right-hand guards are not, and they begin to destroy and kill whatever, and whomever, they see in their path.

A casualty of this carnage happened to be the parents of Alan and Elmia, a pair of siblings that vow to set out for revenge. Ten years pass, and now that the brother and sister are teenagers, they’re ready to set on their journey to challenge the Archfiend and restore balance, but there’s no way they’ll be able to do so alone, so they require help, and lots of it.

While Alan and Elmia survived the attack a decade ago, both haven’t been the same since. Alan hasn’t been able to speak since that day, and Elmia does ever want to leave Alan’s side, for fear of something terrible happening. To say that they are inseparable is putting it lightly. Not only are they out to avenge their parents deaths, but they’re going to also have to stop the other crystals from becoming destroyed, as it will unleash the Archfiend unto the world.

Along the way, Alan and Elmia will come across others that want to help along the way, joining your party and boasting your ranks. Your main additions will be the beautiful Raine, an ogre warrior, and Gil, the pleasure-seeker that will do anything to impress the ladies. There’s a decent amount of interaction between the characters, allowing for each personality to become fully developed. Even though Alan can’t speak, he uses a notepad to write down his thoughts and questions. Gil is constantly hitting on any female he sees, or even hears a mention of, and easily became my favorite by the end of the journey. There’s some humor throughout and I quite enjoyed the storyline, even if it does utilize the cliché ‘crystals that protect the world’ trope.

While you’ll forge bonds with your main companions, one of the main hooks about Alvastia Chronicles is that you can recruit up to 100 other companions. That’s right, triple digits of characters. Doing so won’t be so easy though, as some will have strict conditions before deciding to join your party, whereas others will simply join because you talked to them, or they like your hair, or the sky is blue. Each character has their own interesting abilities and stats, so you’ll want to recruit as many as you possibly can to create the perfect teams to suit your playstyle.

These 100 characters though don’t get any storyline spotlight or any real interaction aside from the quips when trying to recruit them. They instead are added to one of your main three teams, of which Alan, Raine and Gil are the leaders of. Each leader can take 3 others into battle, along with Elmia providing backup, totaling 13 characters in play at all times. Do you want to create 3 melee heavy parties, or balance one out with magic and healing? It’s completely up to you, and the more companions you have to choose from, the more of a perfect combination you can form.

Every time you recruit a new companion, you’ll also be given a handful of Hope Stones. These are essentially a special currency that can be used to unlock new bonds and permanently increase a companion's stats quite dramatically. Given that there’s up to 100 companions, there’s no way you’ll be able to minx/max everyone, so you need to be strategic with whom you want to not only use, but permanently increase their stats.

Finding a team that works is easy, but finding the perfect team is what will take some time, testing and practice with. The most powerful companions will require you to complete other objectives, but they are well worth the effort if you want to sink some post credit time into Alvastia. Certain bonds can also be unlocked as you progress as well, allowing for parties to essentially have a very specific buff or bonus applied at all times. Some are basic like extra damage, but others are more unique and specialized, allowing for some very powerful combinations if created properly, and something that will need to be utilized for post-game challenges.

Visually, you may assume that Alvastia plays like your traditional turn based Final Fantasy, but instead, there’s a bar that the top of the screen that indicates when everyone’s, including enemies, turn takes place, based on varying stats and speed. What I really enjoyed was seeing my full team of 13 characters on the screen at once fighting against the enemies; it really make it feel much more epic than simply 3 or four characters standing alone.

Combat is your general fair once it’s your turn, and even though each of your three leaders each has a team of three companions, if you choose to attack, that whole team will attack as its turn. Subsequently, if you choose to use an ability or magic instead, you only get to use one per team on your turn, choosing form your leader or companions. It’s a simple and basic mechanic, but very effective and simple to understand.

While Elmia is unable to participate in combat herself, she’s able to unleash a Burst Attack once her gauge is full, allowing you to queue up a list of special attacks with no real cost associated. These can easily turn the tide of battle, mass healing or dealing damage in quick succession. There’s a lot of strategy to be had, and while you can toggle an auto battle if you wish, certain bosses will destroy you if you don’t pay attention to what types of damage they are currently reflecting; something I found out the hard way.

Another really cool feature is the ability to upgrade your weapons. While you’ll find and be able to purchase better weapons in new towns and from monsters, the real improvements come from upgrades themselves. Whatever weapon you want to upgrade, you can “feed” it lesser (or better if you wish) weapons to give it additional damage and bonuses. It’s very simple to do, and once I had an endgame weapon and upgraded it massively, I was having no problems dealing massive damage, even to bosses.

I really enjoyed the retro inspired visuals, as it looks like it was taken straight out of the 8-bit era. The same goes for its audio, as the chiptunes and music was a wonderful companion to go along with the aesthetic. I had the credits rolling in just under 7 hours, but I could easily go back for another 20+ if I wanted to participate in battle arenas and find all 100 elusive companions.

While some may simply think of Alvastia Chronicles as a low budget retro RPG, but for under $20 CAD, you could do a lot worse; the characters have enough depth and personality that I was chuckling at many points throughout my journey, wanting to see its conclusion. KEMCO did a great job here, giving classic RPG fans a great value with just enough depth to be an interesting adventure.

Overall: 8.1 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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