Typically, mobile RPG titles chase the thrill and experience of one specific moment in gaming history: 16-bit Final Fantasy titles. Alphadia Genesis 2 changes course and instead throws us back to the late ’90s, rekindling the time we spent with early 3D RPG titles for the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn. The contrast of playing this sort of game on a modern PC brings to light the impact that both time and progress have had on games over the years and reminds us all that some things are best left in the past.
STORY – BLACK VS WHITE
This particular story follows Dion, an Energi user who uses a new form of magic known as Black Energi. His village is attacked and his father is killed by the royal army, as the ruling Empire only allows the use of White Energi. Over the course of his adventure, Dion will face off against the warrior Prince Julius, who is looking to prove himself to his own father, the King.
The actual plot is a classic good versus evil trope, and you’ll gain party members to help your cause along the way, ultimately proving that both forms of Energi are fine if used for the greater good. There isn’t anything particularly compelling about the writing, which is disappointing as this is a sequel and a prequel. Alphadia is a long-running mobile series dating back to 2007, and Genesis stands as its own prequel series.
My main issue was that none of the characters are unique or interesting. Julius reads as a stand-in for Cecil from Final Fantasy IV, and Dion is every generic RPG protagonist. Energi is simply a form of magical ability, with little to no explanation or commentary on what might make it a unique construct.
I know what I should have been expecting, as the original mobile release of this title was back in 2015, and mobile RPGs aren’t particularly known for copious amounts of storytelling. But as KEMCO brings more and more of these titles to PC and consoles, it’s becoming harder to excuse the limited scope and still call it a worthy experience.
Seeing that your first party member is, yet again, a dainty teenage girl who comes from nobility and harbors a desire to explore the outside world is now a cliché. To go on from there and have an even younger, amnesiac girl be the linchpin between two opposing sides of the war is another tired scenario that’s been overplayed to death over the years.
Until the team at EXE Create Inc. decides to adjust its development style, or KEMCO becomes more stringent in regards to what titles they publish, this will continue to be an issue that grates against the appeal of the games. The releases that the companies choose to port over from their former mobile market will continue to remain low-tier fodder for Steam Sales.
GAMEPLAY – STRIPPED DOWN
Overall, the gameplay in Alphadia Genesis 2 is simply what you’d expect. Turn-based combat, encounter-driven battles, and overworld exploration in the vein of traditional JRPGs. There is one solitary gimmick, and that is the boost slot mechanic, which does little to ensure a good time.
In addition to the standard attacks and special skills, boosts will allow you to perform moves in repeated succession with stronger power. This action is limited, and it’s easy to overshoot on a lesser enemy and get stuck against a stronger one later in the battle. I didn’t find it a particularly interesting mechanic and mostly used it as a faster means of finishing low-level encounters, faster than even the auto-battle feature.
That is a returning staple in mobile ports, including a button that automatically progresses combat encounters. It’s not very intuitive, and your characters mostly just default to their generic attacks, resulting in low damage and long bouts of waiting. In this instance, I was thankful for the Boost Gauge, but it still didn’t feel like an essential aspect of the game. The combat balance just felt skewed.
GRAPHICS/AUDIO – WIDE OPEN SPACES
As I said before, the aesthetics for Alphadia Genesis 2 aren’t based on SNES games anymore. We’ve hit 1998, baby! For better and for worse, the graphics of this game harken back to titles such as Shining Force III. Gone is the pixel-art of old, and in are the polygons of pain.
The general overworld is a standard top-down view we’ve seen in prior JRPGs, albeit with 2.5D visuals. Disappointingly, combat encounters are little more than vast empty space with a couple of character models and UI elements thrown in. I’m sure that this is a stunning feat on mobile devices, but on PC, it feels like I’m emulating a lesser-known PS1 title.
I’m not trying to come down on the game too hard. The graphics look fine, just underwhelming. The art style isn’t even impactful like in a title such as Legend of Dragoon, it’s mostly generic and plain. There wasn’t anything that made me stop and think, “So this is Alphadia.” It all felt largely like ground that’s been tread before, and better.
If there’s going to be one thing that I found surprisingly well-executed, it’s the sound design, specifically the voice acting. By default, certain characters have a Japanese voice actor for dialogue sequences, providing an extra layer of detail that helped when the plot began to slog. Not every character was graced with their own voice, and sometimes we’re merely treated with a laugh or a battle cry.
Overall, the music and sound effects were well done (if forgettable). There weren’t any moments where I thought very much about the game audio one way or the other. Everything was competently made and fit the scenes well. Just another nearly-there moment in a nearly-good game.
Alphadia Genesis 2 was reviewed on PC. A code was provided by KEMCO.