For some time now, Square Enix has seemed determined to bring some of its older games back on the scene. If we go through lazy remasters (chronocross) and dubious remakes (secret of mana), they also presented us with much more convincing revised versions like Final Fantasy VII Remake Where mana trials. The Japanese studio continues its momentum attacking an RPG monument this time: live alive.
Test Conditions: Test conducted on a classic Nintendo Switch primarily in TV mode. We went through the game in just over 23 hours collecting all the ultimate weapons.
Live A Live in 2022 and in French?
Originally released on the SNES in 1994, live alive is a very unique RPG. Unfortunately, it never arrived in our region, unless it was imported, an alternative that did not solve the language problem. Regardless, the game had its small effect and became a cult following, with the Japanese audience obviously, but also across the Atlantic and even on the European side through unofficial translations created by the most devoted fans.
Years go by and the title retains a certain aura, although only a niche of players has really played soft. In its infinite goodness, Square Enix finally decides, almost 30 years later (!) live aliveall in partnership with Nintendo, hence the Switch exclusivity.
But it does not stop there. Visibly concerned about the quality of the port (which is not always the case with Square), the box this time opts for an “HD-2D” Remake (Octopath Travelers) with an unexpected French translation.
Connected stories served by a dream plastic
live alive assumes a daring challenge, that of telling not one but almost ten stories, each corresponding to a different time. Thus, you will be asked to live adventures that take place in prehistory, in the near future or even in the Edo era, in Japan, while traveling through the more distant future. Obviously, an element will unite all these times and, above all, the different characters, but we will avoid spoilers here.
The only thing we can tell you is that each scenario in general is entertaining and well written, with endearing characters, whether they are main or secondary. Small shot: the different protagonists sometimes lack depth, due to relatively short chapters (1 hour on average, some being equally long). In short, it is not so serious since the title stands out in its narration and the way of transmitting messages and emotions to us in a limited time, even paying the luxury of playing with the codes of the genre in passing. We only regret the lack of interest in the chapter dedicated to the Present, very short and completely anecdotal in terms of characters and setting. For the rest, we are in very qualitative.
How can we talk about epochs without mentioning atmospheres? live alive it is an example at this level and shows us that creating an atmosphere really does not matter. Whether it’s with the humor of prehistory and its onomatopoeia or the cold and eerie weather that reigns in the distant future, the game enchants us and makes us travel without difficulty, especially thanks to a beautiful soundtrack and artistic direction.
In fact, the music of Yoko Shimomura (kingdom hearts, mana legend, final fantasy XV), here totally re-orchestrated, sublimate an atmosphere already carried by absolutely gorgeous HD-2D graphics, also taking advantage of 3D to set up some very effective camera flips along with excellent pixel art animations.
solid base game
The game takes the form of a turn-based role-playing game with box-by-box movement. With up to 4 allied characters, matchups are quite enjoyable. Therefore, we choose its location based on the abilities we want to use (each with its range and area of effect) or the enemy we want to avoid. Each protagonist has his specificities, such as healing techniques or attacks that modify the nature of the terrain (squares on fire or poisoned, for example).
Overall, the challenge is fairly balanced, and the sheer number of abilities tied to the different weaknesses and resistances allows for some variety. Fights are designed to be relatively fast, attacks dealing a lot of damage (as long as we take weaknesses into account). Finally, the absence of magic points allows you to have a good time on the use side, the only limit here is a charge indicator that requires a preparation time depending on the chosen skill. There are also some nice little tweaks like handling character orientation to increase damage or accuracy.
That said, beyond these solid foundations there are some minor issues, starting with a few difficulty spikes that come out of nowhere, but thankfully quite rare. Then we noticed a slight lack of depth anyway, the concept flaw that prevents you from actually farming and crafting advanced builds. Nothing too dramatic, but it should be noted that we generally stick to the classic, which probably won’t bother RPG enthusiasts, tactical or not.
Finally, let’s wrap up this part by talking about special abilities. Some characters have access to a particular mechanic to use during exploration. The ninja can hide to avoid fights, the prehistoric man can smell odors to locate objects and enemies, etc. These various characteristics bring a little breath of fresh air that ends up differentiating all these eras in every possible way.
What’s new ?
In addition to the soundtrack and graphics, as already mentioned, this new version of live alive It has several additions and modifications that come, most of the time, to improve the gaming experience.
First we have the right to a radar during the exploration. The latter is a good idea since, as in many games of the time, some objectives can be difficult to understand, due to a logic that is not always very… logical. This card has the good taste, in addition to being disabled in the options, to be relatively vague.
In fact, it’s impossible to see the outline of environments or the location of enemies, for example. The only elements indicated are the entry and exit points of the area accompanied by a color code that lets you know if you have already crossed this or that door, or if the latter leads to the main objective or not. An advantage therefore, except for the far future chapter where this addition removes some pressure due to a particular mechanic.
We also notice the arrival of tutorial windows, often absent at the time. These are generally kept to a minimum and are relatively non-invasive, with one exception: the Edo-era chapter. Purists know that a password system is necessary to progress smoothly through this level, and this remake simply gives us the answer every time we need to use it. Shame.
On the quality of life side, we now have the ability to switch to play any chapter at any time and even leave a chapter in progress without losing your progress, which offers a bit more freedom in structure or allows hit in case of momentary blocking. The addition of an automatic save is also part of this, as is the ability to automatically skip scenes or scroll texts.
Finally, there are two extremely positive additions: the English and Japanese dubbing, as well as a small additional segment at the end of the game that puts the icing on the cake of this exceptional game.
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