Many games nowadays are guilty of taking a popular game from a particular genre and simply try to replicate it. Most first person shooters, for instance, always involve a bulky white American male shooting anything that looks remotely foreign, since popular culture has taught us that non-Americans are usually terrorists. While there is an over-saturation of shooters in the US and UK, Japan instead get an abundance of turned-based RPGs with young teenagers/adults forming a big group to take down the giant demon God with the power of friendship. Originally made for iOS and Android devices, Kemco has created a 2014/5 re-release of their own take on a turn-based JRPG, under the name Alphadia Genesis for the Wii U and Steam.
There is a lot of story to go through in this game, but the basic premise is about clones disobeying their registered masters and running amok, killing innocent human beings. It is a very interesting idea, but unfortunately, it has no payoff. It is a shame too, because the story feels like it could have been something really unique and engaging, but alas it is nothing but a wasted opportunity.
But a story can be saved if it has some interesting characters, a la Tales Of Graces F, where the story was generic, but keeps the player’s attention with entertaining characters and their humorous dialogue. Sadly, Alphadia Genesis has also ticked the boxes for every type of cliche character that appears in an average RPG. Our main hero Fray is the typical spiky haired nice guy who is determined to achieve his goals. Then there is Fray’s sister Aurra, who argues with his older sibling, but still helps him fight and gives him motivational support. There is also Corone who does nothing other than look pretty and act as Fray’s love interest. Then there is Enah, a lost clone who is registered as Fray’s master when he finds her early in the game, meaning he has to take full responsibility for her and show her how things are done in the real world. There is also Grande, leader of the Crimson Wolves tribe who is the old and cocky, but likeable meat basket. Finally there is Walter, the arrogant, hot tempered rival of Fray whose every line of dialogue belittles one of the other characters, except for Corone, for whom he has strong feelings for. He is the most annoying character in the game since he contradicts every character’s decision, but offers no course of action himself. And since Fray does not have that much hatred towards him, Walter’s attitude comes off as infuriatingly childish and juvenile.
The personalities are not the only reason for Alphadia Genesis’s flavourless characters. The dialogue that they spew out is just as uninspired and feels like it has been ripped off from other RPG stories. On a side note, in some occasions, Japanese voice work will come into play and while it is authentic to some players, there is unfortunately no way to switch the voices to English for those that wish to do so. Kemco seem to really like their story and script, at least, because one other major problem I have with Alphadia Genesis is that the characters love to flap their gums. It is typical for an RPG to have a lot of talking, but it seems like there is more speaking in the game than there is gameplay.
Story and characters aside, the gameplay itself is actually fairly solid. It is what you come to expect with a turned-based RPG. The heroes and villains each take turns to deal with attacks and, depending on whose speed stat is higher, gets to go first. You can use Break Skills, which are essentially high damaging attacks that are useful for given situations, and you can use Energi attacks that are pretty much spells and either provide offense to opponents or healing and stat boosting properties to your companions. Both of these attacks cost Energi points to use, this game’s equivalent of mana/magic points. Each attack will also fill the Sub-Assist bar, where any resting party members generate a random offensive or defensive attack or spell of theirs along with your own. This is very satisfying when Lady Luck is on your side and you are dishing out a lot of hurt, but a majority of the time, it can feel fairly useless because it can either give you defensive spells that you do not need, or attacks that do very little damage.
Because this is a Wii U port of a mobile game, the graphics in Alphadia Genesis are not great, and can sometimes be downright hideous. The character portraits and introduction cutscene look alright and the textures in the battle scenes have been smoothed, but the frame rate on the overworld sections is very choppy, making playing on the TV a complete eyesore, which is why I spent most of my playtime on the Gamepad, as it seems to suit it more. You can definitely tell that this used to be a mobile game. There is very little music as well and it gets ear-grating when you are hearing the same few tracks over and over again and wish for something new. I had to listen to my own music to keep myself from going crazy.
The biggest flaw that Alphadia Genesis has however is the tremendously steep difficulty spike in the latter half of the game. The enemies still come in groups of four at maximum, but their attack damage and speed are given a dramatic boost, meaning they will unleash massive pain to your heroes before they even have a chance to attack back. You then use your turn to heal your party members, and the cycle starts all over again. It is possible to defeat the regular enemies with enough patience, but it gets worse when it comes to the bosses. They sometimes have henchmen with them to complete the group of three or four, and have attacks that are so high in damage that they can instantly kill one, two, or even three party members. I managed to only just about keep my cool with the first three encounters or so in the second half of the 12-15 hour adventure, but on my fourth encounter at the 11.5 hour mark, my head was filled with so much anger and frustration that I gave up and called it a day. My patience had worn thin and it was the first time I have rage-quit in a while.
Alphadia Genesis has some good ideas in it, but the execution could have been a bit better. It relies too heavily on previously made RPGs to mimic what worked in those games and only vaguely attempts to make it its own thing. The characters are derivative, the environments are derivative, the script is derivative, and the overall design is derivative. The game did have an interesting narrative concept, but it does not think beyond it. At no point does it feel like you are achieving anything. The gameplay, while generally dull and average, is passible and can be fun and fulfilling at times. Sadly, it is let down by the latter half of the game, at which point you start taking cheap, high damaging hits and put the controller down. Alphadia Genesis is an okay distraction, but nothing more.
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