Oh Alliance Alive. I’m very sad that nobody played this game because Legend of Legacy was a doozy that probably warded people away. This is because it was bad, I mean that it was bad. It was hampered by obfuscated systems and the complete lack of a plot, and was a huge grind to get through. Did you know that some characters had secret affinities with certain weapons? Now you do!
Alliance Alive arrived to fix Legend of Legacy’s, well, Legacy. And wow does it do a fantastic job with that! There are so many aspects that got fixed that it’s less of a spiritual sequel and more of a spiritual redo.
So why do I love Alliance Alive so much? Let me count the ways:
A combat system that finally makes sense. Where Legend of Legacy had too many systems that didn’t make sense, Alliance Alive has a bunch of systems that are all laid bare in their entirety, while also easing up on the complexity. Everything is defined by formations and roles, no more secret systems to speak of. It harkens back to a nice little blend of Romance Saga and Final Fantasy II, speaking to the pedigree of the game considering its developers. It’s extremely addictive to set up a bunch of different formations to change your strategy up on the fly. Also the bump to five active party members instead of 3 is a huge improvement. Speaking of Party Members…
An Alliance with Soul. Your 9 party members, like, talk to each other! It’s wild! They have lines and a personality and everything! And they’re all really charming! I can’t remember their original names because you can name them whatever you want from the Status menu, but I’m particularly fond of the Daemon Fox lady and the young scientist girl. Their interactions are a lot of fun. There’s also a plot to speak of (written by the same person that wrote Suikoden II) and it’s actually pretty engaging, concerning a human uprising against the daemons that have them under their thumb. It’s not mind-blowing by any means, but there are enough mysteries to keep you enthralled.
The Alliance System. People have been saying that Ni No Kuni II is like Suikoden II, but when it comes to closeness, I’d say Alliance Alive hits that mark a lot closer. About 9 hours into the game you unlock the Alliance System, wherein you set up 5 Guilds on your giant Ark ship. You then recruit members for your Alliance in different areas and assign them to the different guilds, which increase their power and help you out. The way you recruit these people is part of the fun — one human with an obsession with wanting to become a daemon joined when I switched my active character exploring the map to one of my daemon characters and talked to him. Another joined after we kicked their butt in a fight. There’s an addictive “collect ’em all” quality to grabbing all these characters, and I’ve essentially put the main quest on hold to find them at the moment.
A World Map. For real! And rather than just running around, you get a cool little glider that you can use to strategically fly from place to place to access secret out of the way areas, like new spots to build Guild Towers and guild members to recruit. It’s very cool (although the game can lag a bit if you’re moving too fast).
QOL Stuff. You can save anywhere! If you need to backtrack, 9 times out of 10 the game will fast-travel you there if you want! All the stats are explained this time (I’m serious, Legend of Legacy was bad)! You can change character’s names! The enemies are all visible on the map! You can chain battles to expedite grinding, if you want to grind at all!
JRPG Nostalgia. I guess this all culminates to one single feeling I have about Alliance Alive: it actually pulls off that nostalgia for the SNES/PS1 era of JRPGs. Something about raiding a hot spring to save a bunch of talking frogs felt like peak Final Fantasy IX to me, and that’s very much a good thing. It even has secret party members! There’s no obnoxious fanservice, no tedious sidequests that feel like padding, and every system in the game makes sense to include, letting you put as much or as little time into it that you want (seriously, you can completely ignore that Alliance system if you want to). And it does all that without hewing so closely to those SNES/PS1 JRPGs that it doesn’t actually do anything interesting or new. It’s just a really good game that feels like it was made with love, in my humble opinion.
Now that Alliance Alive is getting ported to the Switch, give it a shot! It’s definitely the most slept on game of 2018, and I highly recommend it!