Review: Alphadia Neo (Nintendo Switch)

Alphadia Neo is the latest RPG published by KEMCO. Even company fans will admit that these games can be hit or miss. Thankfully, Neo is more of the former, checking most of the right boxes, so to speak.

One of the things I’ve criticized these games for is the plots. Tropes are the norm with KEMCO games, and some of that holds true with Neo. Surprisingly, the typical “young man with no memory” angle (Monster Viator, Liege Dragon) didn’t bug me so much, even if it lacks some intrigue by now. You’ve got a meteor, technology, a war, etc… The notes it hits are familiar, especially for the series, but not annoying.

The same can be said for the characters. Amnesiac Alt is fine enough as a lead, likable if thin on personality. Princess Souffle’s early alias quickly gives way, but she’s okay as a support, if a bit unmemorable. Enah is how she is in most games, known more for clinging to the lead than anything else. I’ve always wondered if it’s the same character or not (due to the clone’s long life), but I accept her for what she is. The best of your party of four is the David Bowie-looking Carlo, driven to save children that the empire abducted.

Where Alphadia Neo shines best might be its battle systems. This surprised me, as many, if not most, KEMCO games fall into similar patterns. Though offering plenty of variety, I usually end up falling into a sequence of the same go-to moves. After all, Energi clones have the strength of 10 army men. Here, I actually enjoyed experimenting, and the battling became front and center as a result.

You’ll watch your ranks grow and learn new moves, all standard stuff. But it’s the infusion of rings with Energi that open up your elemental list. Eventually, each member of your party (equipped with triplet rings) will have dozens of moves at their disposal. And it’s fun seeing how each one executes. Throw in different battle methods, styles, resonant (allied) skills, and more, and you have combat that seems like a good use of time (though you may want to bump the difficulty up to hard if you have experience). Even the enemy variety seems better than many KEMCO games, with more creature types and less recycled undead variety.

If, for some reason, the battling connects with you less, you’ll be pleased to know there are some usual but no less appreciated ways to deal with it. Multiple difficulties (changeable on the fly) are included. Monster pillars will let you adjust the enemy encounter rate. Using the roulette wheel (up to three times a day) earns prizes. You can gain extra experience in multiple ways, through harder enemies or currency (both in-game and real life), to make battles more of a background element.

Regarding presentation, Alphadia Neo impressed me by having locations that appear actually lived in. The original Alphaids on 3DS has sparse buildings with a few repeating items. Here, they are detailed, and I enjoyed walking in them. Finding the occasionally hidden passages and accompanying treasures is a bonus. The music is fitting, but while most KEMCO games have that standout tack or two, Neo doesn’t. It’s just decent, nothing more or less.

When you aren’t busy saving the world, you can enjoy a bit of pleasant fishing. Each village has a fishing spot, and it’s a fun break to see what you’ll hook. It seems slightly inconsistent to me, what determines a cath versus an escape, but it’s likely my need to learn more and practice. I feel a completionist leaning with all the question blocks in my fish catalog.

Alphadia Neo is a steadily entertaining RPG for 15 hours, give or take your side quest consumption. Extra challenges and a handful of post-game extras are a bonus. With enjoyable battling and fun fishing, this one is better than the sum of its parts and comes recommended.

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* This article was originally published here


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