Product Type: Working Designs Playstation games
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I had a dream last night...it goes like this:
Member Name: Cassanova
Date: 12/03/01, updated on 12/03/01 (228 review reads)
Advantages: Where do I start!
Disadvantages: What? None!
Here I am again, reviewing another RPG, and on the Playstation.
This time the game is Alundra. An RPG from a small developer called Working Designs, which is published by Psychnosis. It came out just over two years ago for the Playstaion and although isn’t well known, it is a truly excellent and enjoyable game.
You can pick a copy up now for a very good price, somewhere around £20 or lower.
The game starts with a general opening sequence showcasing the game with added cartoon movies in the usual Japanese style. The look is good, but clearly not in the same league as Final Fantasy. The music is good though, with a variety of moods, from exciting to a more calm section.
Next follows the title screen, very basic and no special options.
The game begins aboard a ship on a voyage to an island (I think). The main character, called Alundra, is on his way to a small village called Inoa. This is really all you know, unless you read the instruction manual provided, which tells you more about the plot and characters in the game. Basically, Alundra has the ability to enter people’s dreams, although if you don’t read the manual, you won’t know this until later in the game.
Anyway back to the ship. When you begin play, you can talk to people and get a general idea of how the game works and the controls. One button for attacking with your equipped weapon, one for jumping, one for running (or dashing) and finally one for bringing up the menu screen. To talk to people you use the same button for attacking.
Eventually you will end up in your cabin, and decide to get some sleep. You then have a strange dream in which a mysterious character tells you that it is your destiny to go to Inoa and save the people from an evil being called Melzas.
This is a typical plot for an RPG, save the world from a big, bad, evildoer. But this doesn’t matter, as the story is never te
dious or unexciting.
You then awaken from your dream to find the ship is caught in a violent storm. The ship is rocking violently and the tension is great. After running outside and getting an idea of what is going on, the ship suddenly crashes into the island and then the screen goes white.
Next thing you know, you wake up in bed in some strangers house.
I will leave it there, as it goes on for a long time. Besides, I don’t want to spoil it for some people.
Graphics and presentation
The graphics are not brilliant, but the presentation is very good. The game uses a cartoon look like the old RPGs on consoles like the Mega Drive. This has been done before in a lot of games, and quite a few on the Playstation. Suikoden (and Suikoden 2) use it, Wild Arms and many others also use this look.
But although you won’t be impressed by the graphical style, you will be impressed by the presentation. What I mean by this is the little touches like animation, lighting effects and other things like that. Light streams in through windows, water looks (and sounds) beautiful, and the animations are great.
The first time I played this game, I was always stopping to admire the brilliant scenery. Locations are varied and great. From ancient temples, to the village of Inoa. From the baron desert to the Murgg tree. I love the locations in this game. Working Designs obviously have a great imagination. Even games like Final Fantasy will have a hard time in the locations department, up against this game. Anyway enough of that.
The characters are also brilliant. Each one has a distinct look and story. Although there aren’t very many characters in the game, like Suikoden, what characters there are, are great. From the annoying views of Giles, to the warm hearted Jess.
Plus the enemies are also very good. Each enemy has a unique look and animation. Some are easy to kill while others require mor
e thought. But I will talk about this later on.
Music and sound
Well what can I say? The music in this game is truly wonderful. Maybe the best I have heard in any game. Although the music doesn’t have a huge variety of instruments like say Suikoden 2, the music is very well realised. Some themes are calm and relaxing, while others are very fast and exciting, and add tension to a scene.
The sound effects are quite good, with different sounds for swinging your sword and explosions. Generally the sound effects are great, but sometimes you feel that Working Designs could have thought of using a few more different effects.
Overall, hats off to Working Designs (or whoever produced the score for Alundra) for the music. It is incredible!
The playability is excellent with a style that harks back to the days of Zelda and Landstalker. Basically, you can equip one weapon and one item. So for example, you could have your trusty dagger and a tonic to restore your energy when it gets low.
You can only attack the enemy with one move, but with later weapons, you can use an extra attack, for example the sword lets you charge it up and release a lethal strike.
This idea has been used in almost every RPG (apart from turn-based RPGs) and works extremely well. It is such a good idea, as it means you can avoid a lot of the battles, unlike RPGs like Final Fantasy where you have to endure random encounters!
The bosses are brilliant. They not only look really scary and are sometimes huge, but they take time and skill to defeat. Again the animations of the bosses are great and you look forward to them, like Zelda 64.
Overall, the gameplay is great. Well done to Working Designs, again.
It took me about 30 to 40 hours to complete, and I still haven’t found all the secrets in the game. Make no mistake, this game is huge. Unlike Final Fantasy, the
game is big because of the amount of compulsory gameplay. In Final Fantasy you take so much time, because you spend hours just on the random encounters. If you took out all the random encounters from Final Fantasy, you would probably complete the game in half the normal time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Final Fantasy, quite the opposite, but games like Alundra don’t make you mad and annoyed.
The difficulty is quite good, with bits of the game being particularly tricky. Some people might say that the game is too hard, but I disagree. The only really hard part was Lars Crypt. You had to work out which order to turn the switches on, and it took me a whole day! Maybe it’s more obvious than I realise!
Overall, the difficulty level is great. Some bits were a real challenge which was really rewarding when you completed that part.
There are plenty of secret items to collect, mainly by finding the golden falcon statues. These can be exchanged for special items. But I won’t spoil it for you!
This game is shear genius. From the simple and addictive gameplay, to the excellently detailed environments. From the wonderfully scored music, to the exciting bosses.
I recommend this game to anyone who loves RPGs and adventure games.
Go buy it!
Thanks for reading my opinion.
I realise that I haven’t covered everything, but there are so many great bits about this game, I could go on forever!
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