It’s not often that I get to write about a game a second time around. In this case, it’s The Alliance Alive HD Remastered, a game I was praising back in 2017-2018, to the point it was my favorite game of 2017. For the Nintendo Switch release, FuRyu has opted to focus on bringing over the experience wholesale, and this approach works out.
This Nintendo Switch remaster isn’t a Complete Edition or anything like that – it’s the original game with upscaled textures, and the addition of a Guidebook that is meant to help out players who want to learn more about the game’s mechanics. The game is still unvoiced (which can be good or bad), but on the other hand, loading times are as brisk as they were on the original 3DS version.
In the past, I’ve written extensively about the battle system, character recruitment, and the attention to detail that was lavished onto this game, and this still holds true, considering the above. However, I didn’t really go into the story, which was penned by Suikoden writer Yoshitaka Murayama, and which serves as an example of a story of hope that tells itself sincerely, even if it doesn’t break new ground.
In particular, Murayama really shows his writing chops when it comes to the pacing of the story, and the game never feels like it drags on. The early game is spent setting the plot into motion, and we learn about Galil and Azura’s motivation to see the blue sky returned to the world, even if it has painful costs. But just as we reach a critical turning point in Galil and Azura’s side of the story, the game swiftly moves the scene to Gearsrock, where we get to meet the Daemon characters Vivian (best girl!) and Ignace, as well as the genius professor Tiggy. Vivian is somewhat of a weirdo, being interested in Human affairs and Sorcery, but that speaks to the attitude of the rest of her race. She’s the one who is usually explaining the Daemon angle of thinking to the rest of the party.
Later still, we swap to Gene and Rachel, who provide a different look at human resistance, or how some humans have been able to find a place among the Daemon hierarchy. Despite seemingly turning traitor, the game reminds us that these people are still in their own way working towards a future of peace with Daemonkind, and freedom for Humans.
What really sells this smorgasbord of a party are the small interactions that each of them have, and much of this happens in this first part, where we get to see their interactions shine in smaller groups. There are moments where Ignace tries to talk over Tiggy and her “disrespect for the Daemon nobility”, but Tiggy is having none of that. While waiting for an old researcher to decipher ancient text, Azura is the only one who ends up falling asleep during the wait, only to be shocked at the old linguist’s yell of triumph upon completion. Rachel may only be a hired mercenary acting as Gene’s bodyguard, but she’ll willingly drag her employer into battle as long as she can get away with it. These small moments give nuance to each of our protagonists beyond the broad personality strokes.
After establishing the three parties and their characters, The Alliance Alive finally allows us to combine parties and allow the cast to bounce off one another. After obtaining the Ark, for example, there’s this small interaction between Galil and Tiggy that I love, where he is ignored by Tiggy until calling her by a childlike nickname, to which Tiggy finally responds out of annoyance. Galil says that he doesn’t want to cause Tiggy and the others trouble considering it’s Galil and Azura’s quest that led them to the Caged Realm, and Tiggy, being smart, appeals to Galil’s inner romantic by explaining the endeavors of science as finding freedom beyond limits, and a chance to test her battle suit.
These small moments perpetuate the early game up to the big boss battle that solidifies our cast as a party with a common goal – and by then, I’m invested. We know enough about each character that we can enjoy the characters just working together, and it’s all thanks to the expert pacing of the game’s writing.
The Alliance Alive HD Remastered is available on Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4. The game will release for PC via Steam in 2020. The game is also available on Nintendo 3DS.