By Jason Quinn / January 29th, 2018
|Title||Zwei: The Arges Adventure
|Publisher||XSEED Games, Marvelous USA Inc.|
|Release Date||January 24th, 2018|
Zwei: The Arges Adventure is the latest Falcom title to be published by XSEED Games. Just a few months ago, Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection was also released, and that is a sequel to this game. A bit odd to release the first game in a series after the second one, but the stories are self-contained so it’s no big deal. It’s worth mentioning this is the first English release of Zwei, and also that this game is technically 16 years old.
Zwei starts out with our heroes, Pokkle and Pipiro, going about their peaceful lives. Suddenly, a masked man steals the village’s most treasured possessions: six holy idols. With the idea of adventure and a big payday in our hero’s heads, they set out to recover these stolen idols. The story here definitely shows its age. The plot is predictable, and you can tell where it’s gonna go after the first dungeon. The character writing is also nothing to write home about. The boy, Pokkle, is in love with the notion of being an adventurer and hero. His sister Pipiro is a bit of a curmudgeon that appears selfish but can be genuinely caring.
XSEED did a really good job with the localization. The playful and fun nature of the script goes well with the pretty lighthearted nature of the game. There are some eye-roll inducing puns that I personally loved, and it gives all the characters a distinct personality. Still, even a “punched up” script doesn’t save the overall narrative from ultimately being a bit boring.
The gameplay is this game’s biggest problem. Without trying to be too hyperbolic, I think it has some of the worst action RPG gameplay I’ve experienced. Hitting the attack button makes Pokkle do a little dash forward, and this counts as an attack. You can only attack in the direction you’re facing, and attacks can only register on one enemy at a time. Unfortunately, the game loves pitting you against multiple enemies, and you have zero defensive options.
Pipiro has her own attacks too, the first one in the form of a little magic blast. It has the same problems as Pokkle’s attack where it can only hit one enemy. Fortunately for her, she acquires several kinds of magic as the game progresses, all of them allowing you to hit multiple enemies. If you get a 5 hit combo, you get access to a big charge up move, which is just a little homing blast that can hit multiple times.
There are a handful of other issues at play here too. A big one is that the game is unnecessarily devious with its enemy encounters. Oftentimes enemies just spawn basically right on top of you. This makes it so taking damage is inevitable and there’s no point in thinking about how to approach enemy encounters since just mashing out attacks is really the only thing you can do anyways. You can also launch enemies into the air, and the way that’s depicted in a 2D-space is simply the enemies sprite getting larger. This can make tracking the enemy kinda hard, not to mention how distracting it can be. On top of all that, there’s very little hitstun on enemies, which means they can go on attacking you while you yourself are attacking.
Dungeons themselves also don’t have a whole lot going on with them, with the biggest thing it demands of you is pressing a button to open a door. The bosses are where many of the game’s issues come to a head. Your attacks are so basic and with no defensive options, it’s impossible to avoid taking damage. Boss’s attacks don’t have any kind of proper wind-up or telegraphing anyways. From a developer that is responsible for some of my favorite action RPGs in the Ys games, it’s a bit shocking just how much of a mess this game’s combat is, and how uninteresting the dungeons are.
Much like the other Zwei game, this handles its experience system in a unique way. Rather than just killing enemies to gain experience, you have to eat food that gives you experience. My problems with this are the same as in the other game. Food dropping from enemies is random, so you can end up under-leveled just because of pure bad luck. I appreciate attempts to be unique, but I just don’t see this being any better than a traditional system.
There’s a lot of bonus dungeons you can complete as well if you want more to do after the story mode. It’s just a shame the combat is such a mess and the dungeons are so uninteresting that you probably won’t want to. There’s also a New Game+ system where you can carry over all your stuff after you beat the game.
Visually, this game really stands out. If the game played half as good as it looked, it would be a masterpiece. The environments all look like hand-drawn 2D art, and it’s simply gorgeous. Some of the chibi style character sprites look a little odd, but the game overall still looks very good. The music is also fairly good, though much like this game in general, isn’t exactly Falcom’s best.
As I mentioned previously, this game is rather old, so you’re not gonna get a ton of settings to fiddle around with. There’s only a toggle to play the game windowed or full screen. In windowed mode, the screen size can’t be changed and it’s a rather tiny resolution of 854×480. Unfortunately, there’s no way of customizing your keyboard or controller settings either. Controller support is pretty decent, though I found using items to be a bit simpler with a keyboard and mouse. Still, the game is fully playable on modern hardware without any fuss, and that’s commendable.
This is a hard game to recommend. It’s a shame how not fun the game is, because it’s presentation is pretty great. In terms of gameplay, even the second Zwei game is a big improvement, and the story really isn’t interesting enough to make it worth it for that either. I’ve grown a decent collection of Falcom games in recent times, and this is a far cry from their best work. For the curious, the game costs $20 and I managed to complete it in 17 hours. I’d say the only way I’d recommend it is if you really, really want a complete collection of Falcom games on Steam. If you’re just in the market for an action RPG, I’d give this game a pass.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Action RPGNihon FalcomPCXSEED GamesZwei: The Arges Adventure