Going back almost thirty years, Takashi Tokita put his heart and soul into a game called Live A Live. It was a collection of smaller role-playing games set throughout world history. The game was never launched outside of Japan, and with only 27 000 copies sold, most people considered the game a flop. Despite the lack of success, Tokita would go on to work on major titles, including numerous entries in the Final Fantasy series.
Despite a lackluster reception in 1994, Live A Live is making its second appearance, this time on the Nintendo Switch. Published by Nintendo in North America, this is a remake of the 1994 original, and brings back the stories from the original with a fresh coat of paint. With a wider audience to receive this title, as it is not just a Japanese release, can Live A Live rewrite history and become a critical and sales success?
Live A Live Details
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): Square Enix
Genre: Adventure, Role-playing
Modes: Single Player
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
So much to tell
The story line of the game might not make sense until you complete the entire experience. As you begin, it does feel like a bunch of different stories combined into one book. Think of a book of short stories, and you might begin to understand how the game feels as you first start out. The first few stories happen in the past – prehistoric, ancient China, feudal Japan, the Wild West, and present day – while the final few chapters look to the future.
It is worth noting that characters from one chapter won’t be transitioning to another, and the order that you play all these stories doesn’t matter either. You can tackle this game however you want, which will allow you to jump in and out of certain time periods if you like.
Love the Wild West but not as much of a fan of feudal Japan? Have at it, there is no right or wrong way to play. For someone who enjoys hopping around and experiencing different experiences, this is promising to do this all within one package.
Combat is the one consistent
The stories being different in each of the various chapters might make you feel like you are playing a game with no consistency from one chapter to the next. When there is combat – at least one game doesn’t have any combat at all – the games are fairly consistent. Combat is turn based, but not static. Instead, you can move yourselves and allies on a 7×7 grid, complete with positional bonuses and more.
It’s actually a really great system, and allows you to be much more active in the combat sequences. Although I’m not a huge fan of grid based combat systems, the stories being told were unique enough to keep me moving. Knowing that each game wasn’t an epicly long adventure made those combat sequences much more enjoyable.
If you have played Octopath Traveler or Triangle Strategy, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect. This is a wonderfully created 2D-HD experience. The environments, for the most part, are gorgeously detailed. While there are a few exceptions, the overall aesthetic of the game is top notch, and it’s quite obvious a lot of work went into updating this aspect of the game.
The feudal Japan level was a favourite of mine, as well as the wild west experience. When playing on the Nintendo Switch OLED unit, fans are in for a real treat as each and every environment pops with colour and detail you wouldn’t expect out of a remake, let alone a 2D-HD one.
Equally as good is the game’s soundtrack. The nice variety sprinkled throughout are all indicative of the time period the specific chapter is focused on. The music you hear is varied, ranging from quiet undertones to loud and boisterous moments. It’s a great blend, and well worked into the game’s structure. The voice acting, on the other hand, is a bit of a mixed bag. The development team attempted to accurately recreate voices that would be indicative of the time and place they are being used, but it’s the delivery of many of these lines that feels out of place.
Live A Live is a nostalgic worthwhile adventure
With each scenario taking 1-3 hours to complete, Live A Live might not seem like it has a lot of content. In fact, there were times when I wished a few of the scenarios would have gone on longer than they did. However, when putting them all together, it’s a comprehensive package that plays great, and is manageable as well.
It is still just a remake of the 1990s experience, however, so expect a few frustrations along the way. Without the quality of life improvements we are accustomed to in games now, there are moments where you might be lost, uncertain of what to do next, or just downright frustrated. That being said, pulling through and finding the solution each and every time is such a rewarding experience. From start to finish, Live A Live is a treat, and one I cannot seem to put down.
+ Outstanding HD-2D visuals
+ Story variety
+ Consistency in combat
– Voice acting delivery is subpar
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF LIVE A LIVE
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3/5