Game Title: Alvastia Chronicles
Company: EXE Create, KEMCO
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 4 – 7 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 53.4 GB

EXE Create sure has been supporting handhelds a lot, lately. It hasn’t been that long since I got a chance to dive into one of their RPGs, and here we are again, enjoying some retro RPG goodness. The interesting thing is that there are different styles of RPGs that they make. Many of them are styled after SNES-style RPGs.

Some of them, on the other hand, are more towards older RPGs, from the days of the NES. I know of only a couple of these games, and this is the first time I’ve gotten the chance to dive through.

Packed with a ton of recruitable characters, here is my review of Alvastia Chronicles for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

alvastia 2 - story

This story is set in Alvastia, a world filled with continents raised high into the sky due to a war against monsters from ages ago. You play as Alan, a mute warrior who narrowly escapes a monster attack that destroyed his hometown, vowing to protect his little sister and keep that travesty from ever happening again.

When the monster that killed their parents appears in a nearby forest, he and his sister go on a journey to avenge their parents’ death, picking up ally after ally to do so.

The overall story here isn’t bad, as it’s a neat little revenge story-turned-worldwide conflict, though some of the story aspects I didn’t like. The game, far too often, derails conversations into randomly flirting events betwen the four main characters (similar to how often this happened in Asdivine Hearts II).

The other issue is its “True Ending” segment. When you clear the game and get the extended story chapter, you have a massive amount of lore dumped on you in an incredibly short amount of time. The lore is interesting, but it’s thrown on you and resolved so quickly that you barely have enough time to process the re-writing of the story before everything is over.

Gameplay

alvastia 3 - gameplay

Like many other EXE Create games, Alvastia Chronicles is a retro turn-based RPG with a heavy emphasis on recruiting NPCs into your party nearly everywhere you go.

Basic progression is the same as most of these RPGs, though this is more set in the vein of NES-era RPGs like the early Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games. As such, some things aren’t around on purpose, like items that warp you out of dungeons and controls only being linked to straight directions instead of fully-analog controls.

Outside of that, you have your typical formula of roaming around on a World Map and visiting Towns and Dungeons for Story Quests, Shops, turn-based battles, and more. This game’s uniqueness comes in the form of Recruitable Characters.

alvastia 4 - characters

On that topic, almost every dungeon and town has multiple NPCs that can be recruited into your battle party, with over 100 possible party members by the end of the game. Some of them will join the moment you interact with them while others have conditions, like defeating certain monsters or recruiting all of the other NPCs in their class, like all Mages or all Chefs.

This system goes further in Party Management and “Battle Room” systems. Each party member consists of one of the 3 main characters and 3 NPCs that you can “equip” to their formation, giving the main party member extra attacks and the skills of those equipped party members. These party members also level up with the other party members and level up to learn new skills as well as unlock special stat boosts and effects based on which NPCs are paired together.

Then you have the Battle/Strategy Room. These are slots that NPCs can be assigned to for random effects during battle, like spells going off or extra attacks being permitted to the party. These can also change, depending on who is assigned to these roles, but combined with the Party System, you could have a good dozen or two members assigned to something and all contributing to battle together.

strategy room

Outside of this system, it’s similar to combat in other EXE games. Each party member has attacks and various types of physical and magic-based skills they can perform, as well as a Burst Attack/Ultimate Attack once they’ve fought so long and have built up their gauge. One really nice aspect of this battle’s combat system, however, is the fact that the party is fully healed after every battle, meaning that as long as you survive the battle, you’re back up to 100% for the next.

This formula works pretty well, but there is one area where the game really lacks: Length. For as intimidating as it sounds to have 100+ party members, the game’s story is a rather short one, only spanning around 8-10 hours. It’s true that’s a fair amount of length for the game’s asking price, but like I said in the previous section, a lot of the plot points are thrown at you and resolved so quickly that it feels the game progresses a little too quickly.

Controls

Controls are pretty simple. No touch or motion controls so everything is done with the buttons. This game does not have the D-Pad glitch I mentioned in my AH2 review.

You move around with the D-Pad and Left Analog Stick. The L and R triggers manage the mini-map and Quick Menu. The A button is used for interactions and B button for canceling options. Y pulls up the World Map and X pulls up customization.

Finally, the + button pulls up the Save Menu. All in all, it’s pretty simple.

Presentation

alvastia 5 - presentation

Graphically, the game is set up like an 8-bit RPG and definitely succeeds in that retro look. However, the blurriness of the models and environments really makes it difficult to look at in docked mode. It looks alright in handheld mode, but I had a lot of eye-strain in TV Mode.

Performance-wise, I have no complaints. No frame- drops. No crashing. Everything runs very nicely.

Battery Life

Being an EXE/KEMCO RPG, I expected and got great Battery Life. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 31 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 22 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 6 hours, 30 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 7 hours, 05 minutes

As expected, there’s a ton of Battery Life here.

In conclusion, Alvastia Chronicles brings in a bit of uniqueness compared to most of EXE and KEMCO’s other recent console releases. On the downside, the game proceeds a bit too quickly and the visual presentation causes eye strain in Docked Mode. It’s definitely a unique NES-style RPG, but not a long-lived one.

Final Score: 7.5/10