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Alphadia Genesis 2 (Android) artwork

Alphadia Genesis 2 (Android) review

"Another Exe-Create game, another instance of me wondering what could have been..."

Since starting the "Kemco Khallenge" a couple of years ago, I've approached each of the publisher's short, disposable RPGs with an equal mix of interest and dread. Interest, because each game is a new experience and (regardless of quality) will only take a short time to clear so I can move on to the next one. Dread, because there's a near-guarantee that some aspect (or aspects) will be marred. The chase is almost always better than the catch, since I'm perpetually looking forward to the next title while still enduring whichever one I'm playing currently.

The amazing thing is that Kemco has enlisted five teams to produce these games, but none of those developers have truly hit the jackpot. Wouldn't you imagine the law of averages would make someone luck their way into a truly enjoyable 15- or 20-hour experience at least once after so many attempts? But, no, I'm left picking my way through the ashes, wondering just how good this or that game might have been if only there were a better translation, or a better difficulty curve, or more interesting dungeons, or characters that felt like more than cardboard cutouts, or whatever else. It probably says something when I've played through roughly two dozen of the publisher's 60 or so available games and my most complementary reviews essentially boil down to "It was pretty good… especially if you consider it's really cheap and its flaws aren't TOO glaring!"

Exe-Create's Alphadia Genesis 2 is perhaps the most heartbreaking reminder that in the world of Kemco, we can't have nice things. When it comes to telling a story, this is easily the developer's best effort I've experienced. When it comes to putting a good game around that story… I've seen better.

To start with the positive, the plot isn't of the usual generic "plucky heroes versus evil overlord/demon" variety. This is sort of surprising, since every single Exe-Create game I'd previously played fell into that trap to some degree. Instead, we have a legitimate "shades of grey" scenario. The game's world has two kinds of people: Lucerians and Atramians, with the Lucerians hosting the ruling empire among their numbers. Meanwhile, the Atramians have a pair of connected problems. First, something is going wrong with the Black Energi serving as their inherent magic power. It randomly turns them into bloodthirsty monsters. Secondly, the empire is aware of this issue and has come to the conclusion that the only way to ensure the safety of the White Energi-based Lucerian citizens is to exterminate all Atramians.

This situation leads to the game's opening scene, when small-town Atramian lad Dion gets to watch as the people of his village are culled by a group of Lucerians led by Prince Julius and a top Lucerian general named Herman. Dion only survives thanks to a secret network of passages under the town, as well as the aid of wandering knight named Faulkner. Naturally, the lad is left with a strong desire to enact revenge upon the empire that slayed his friends. Faulkner eventually becomes a party member, as do Chiffon--an Atramian girl with royal heritage--and Lucerian scientist Elize. The latter feels the world's people might be better served by a cure that doesn't involve forced extinction.

The plot is straightforward and progresses logically. Dion, Chiffon and cohorts go from one Atramian village to the next in order to drum up support for a full-fledged military assault on the empire, which is a matter made trickier due to one ally being a manipulative backstabber who is looking to grab all the glory and power for himself. Making this story better than Exe-Create's normal fare is the amount of time spent studying key imperial figures. The emperor is harsh and pragmatic, but legitimately feels he's doing what needs done in order to preserve safety for his subjects, even if he's damning himself in the process. An establishing moment for Julius happens early in the game, when he passes on the opportunity to kill Dion and end the rebellion before it even gets off the ground, all in order to transport an injured subordinate to safety. Both Herman and Major Kamil have nothing but respect and admiration for him, feeling he has the skill in battle and an ability to emphasize with those of lower station that could make him best ruler the land has ever seen. It's actually sort of refreshing to move away from a tale of generic evildoers and see one that presents two sides who simply have incompatible solutions to the same problem.

Overall, this is a pretty easy game to get into. With the use of accessories, each character gains skills in up to two of four classes at once (with a fifth class available to anyone insane enough to grind all four to their maximum level). Or, you can have characters only use one class and devote their other accessory slot to an item that raises stats or bestows other advantageous perks. Battles have an interesting twist to them, as well, since characters open fights with a maxed-out boost gauge. This allows them to attack up to five times in the first round of combat or, if using skills or spells, to use all five boosts to greatly enhance their attack power, healing ability or (for buffs and debuffs) duration. This system gives battles an interesting vibe, where you'll want to go all out initially, but if you can't finish off foes in that first turn, you're stuck attacking once per turn like a mere commoner.

Bosses are a real mixed bag, and fun battles aren't part of the mix. Early in the game, I hated them, as foes were far too durable for Dion's and Chiffon's spells and skills to take them out in one round. That left me to participate in lengthy, tedious fights where I'd s-l-o-w-l-y whittle down a seemingly infinite well of life. However, as I progressed, I not only gained the other two characters, but also gained access to more powerful attacks. My improved resources allowed me to leave my enemies on the brink of death after a single turn. About the only exception to this rule was the final boss of the post-game, "true ending" dungeon. With him, I had to spend a turn using rare items to completely restore a character's boost gauge so I could gain another round of super-powered attacks, hopefully before my target became annoyed enough to simply wipe my entire party out by spamming an unbelievably powerful spell twice per round.

In the grand scheme of things, that was a mere annoyance compared to this game's fatal flaw: a complete lack of imagination when it came to designing, well... anything. I've grown accustomed to Exe-Create's worlds being comically linear, with nations and continents positioned along a winding path that connects every town (and with dungeons situated at the end of shorter branching paths). But now, that horrible design has also taken over dungeons. They ALL operate by that same principle. You enter a dungeon and follow a long, linear corridor, with short side halls leading to treasure. It doesn't matter if you're in a cave, a forest or the damn imperial castle; with the exception of their appearance, every single dungeon is exactly the same. The closest thing to a puzzle is that two of them have doors blocked by magic, so you need to follow your linear path to a boss whose defeat dispels a barrier. Making matters absurd: unless you play on the hardest difficulty, the game "kindly" includes markers pointing out the direction you should walk, as if there's any way a person with two brain cells to rub together could possibly get confused.

When it comes to good dungeons in RPGs, I tend to be most satisfied with those containing puzzles, even if they're rudimentary "find switch/key to open door" things. Or at least complex mazes, where I have to work to find the proper route from the entrance to my goal. Long, linear paths consisting of a tedious walk broken up by encounters don't cut it. I found myself trying to rush through all the actual playing in order to find what direction the story would take.

This made it easy to absolve myself of any potential guilt over how I essentially broke Alphadia Genesis 2 over my knee. Getting this game's IAP points is extremely easy, simce all you need to do is earn an "S" or "A" ranking in battles. If you only use five-boost attacks on the first turn, you accomplish that feat regularly. In the game's shop, there are a number of great accessories that boost a particular stat by 200 points, as well as an unlimited supply of those rare boost-gauge-restoring items. Give Elize an extra 200 points to her magic-governing stat and she'll be powerful enough to solo nearly every boss in the game. Add 200 points of strength to Dion and Faulkner and if those bosses are still standing after Elize blasts them, they won't be for much longer.

Did I have fun playing Alphadia Genesis 2? To a degree, yes. For once, I legitimately enjoyed progressing the plot in a Kemco game, and there is a part of me that does enjoy finding ways to utterly dominate everything a programmer can place in my path. But when every dungeon is the same linear slog, where puzzles and complicated designs are replaced by soul-crushing length, actual enjoyment is in short supply. I give Exe-Create credit for writing a story I genuinely liked, but when I'm wishing that large chunks of the actual game could be excised so I could just read the story without having to deal with the dungeons, that's a significant problem and prevents me from awarding the game anything more than a lukewarm recommendation.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (April 19, 2018)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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