Xbox has had a tumultuous relationship with Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs), and the absence of games in the genre has been quite the pock mark on the family of consoles. Alvastia Chronicles, developed by EXE-CREATE and published by Kemco, would like to fill that void by bringing retro inspired JRPG action to Xbox One. Alvastia Chronicles sends players on an epic adventure with Elmia, a plucky little priestess, and her silent brother, Alan. The siblings encounter a being that triggers memories of the death of their parents some ten years earlier. The two seek permission to leave their village and together they embark on an epic adventure in order to seek revenge.
It doesn’t take long for Alvastia Chronicles’ quirks to make themselves apparent. The story narrative is very clear that Alan and Elmia are siblings, complete with flashbacks with their parents, but there are horribly uncomfortable references to incest between the two thrown casually into the dialogue. Characters in the villages frequently comment on Alan and Elmia’s ‘romantic interest’ in each other, and even flat out tell the two to ‘get a room’ at times. While the incestuous dialogue does taper off eventually, it is still an awkward bit of conversation to have thrown around so casually.
Alvastia Chronicles’ game play focuses on emulating the classic JRPGs of yesteryear, complete with retro pixel art. The party of heroes, which grows as you explore, navigate their way single file around the a pixelated over world while occasionally dropping in to various villages that are indicated by a tiny town icon on the map. Its not all safe travels from Town A to Village B, however, as there are a wide variety of monsters scattered about the world and these monsters are invisible while exploring. Once you accidentally stumble upon these monsters you’re taken to a classic turn based RPG combat scene with enemies on the left, your party on the right, and your options on the bottom of the screen. A bar at the top of the screen features an icon and when each character’s icon reaches the end of the bar they are allowed to take a turn. The player can then decide to attack or to take other actions like defending, healing, or using potions when it is one of their characters’ turns.
Alan and Elmia’s story may be front and center for Alvastia Chronicles, but they are far from being alone on their journey. Relatively early the pair runs into several other characters who can serve as their companions, and eventually their party grows to the point that players have 13 characters active in a battle at once. There’s plenty of opportunity for customization with the companions, as there are over 100 available characters to collect throughout the game. Sadly, because of the sheer volume of potential characters they do easily become relegated to being collectibles. Keeping up with who you’d like to add to your party at any given time just becomes too much hassle to juggle. There is an additional layer of game play added in with companion bonds, which can be unlocked when you have a certain combination of companion types available to your party. These elements, however, can be a bit overwhelming for casual RPG players and are really only going to appeal to those who are seeking to set up a min-maxed party.
While most of Alvastia Chronicles is generally true to its genre it was still originally designed to be a mobile game. Unfortunately, some aspects of the game’s mobile roots still have a hold on the console release. Some battles will drop treasure chests as a reward, for example, but not all of these chests can be opened immediately. There are only four available slots for players to put chests into, and some of them can take several hours of waiting before they’re able to be opened. If you’re unfortunate enough to have chests in waiting already when a good chest drops later on you’re forced to discard the new chest. These tendrils of pay to play are also lurking in the game’s currency. While the currency can be found by grinding out battles and exploring the world, the easiest way to come by this currency is simply by buying it. It is the only remaining microtransaction active in the game at release, however.
Alvastia Chronicles mobile roots and awkward dialogue aside, the game stands solid as a JRPG that can easily be picked up by players new to the genre while also providing plenty to keep the stat focused players engaged thanks to its adjustable difficulty settings. Combat is solid and exploration feels rewarding, but there is the potential to get lost if you’re simply out there grinding for currency because you’re not willing to pay real cash for advances.
A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher