As I was listening to the radio the other day, the announcers were asking where the town with the world’s most “equitable climate” (constant mild temperatures throughout the year, evenly distributed rainfall, low humidity) was. As they discussed the pros and cons of living in such a place, they often described the consistently average weather as “world’s most boring,” and I feel that’s an apt comparison for many of Kemco’s RPGs. Just like an equitable climate, Alphadia Genesis doesn’t attempt to do anything new or interesting; it doesn’t take any chances, and it’s almost laughable how perfectly generic it is.
Fray, passive and naive JRPG hero, finds himself appointed as head of an investigation team when clones begin to murder their masters. He’s accompanied by his sister, Aurra, who looks at least two decades too young to be a head researcher, along with two knights from the neighbouring kingdom, Corone and Walter. I was impressed to see real character development in the relationships between Fray, Walter and Corone, though the romance often read like a TV teen drama — complete with hot springs bathing, of course.
Weaving a story of homicidal clones into a medieval fantasy setting is one of the few original ideas Alphadia Genesis executes, but it fails to do anything enticing with it. You visit a number of high-tech labs during the adventure, yet this technology is never found within cities or towns. There’s an Isaac Asimov-style of philosophy on the rights and free will of clones, but if you’ve read any sci-fi you’ve seen it before, and it isn’t particularly relevant to the central plot either. There’s a couple of interesting twists towards the end, but they’re resolved annoyingly quickly and comfortably.
If you follow Kemco’s releases, you might have heard Alphadia Genesis was the first to use any 3D modelling. The overworld and field are still 2D sprites and tiles, but battles are fully 3D and look pretty good. Character models are detailed and perfectly match their colour-clashingly awful dialogue portraits. Aurra looks like someone threw up on her: green hair, green clothes, green eyes. Fray shares an almost identically coloured design with a character named Grande and, more than once I used an item on the wrong one in the heat of battle. On the opposing side, there’s only a handful of different enemies that are simply retextured over and over and over again.
Fortunately, the combat itself is fairly interesting. It’s a traditional turn-based affair where characters use regular attacks, special skills, magic or items. Each character learns a set of unique skills as they level up, though magic is elemental and can be taught to different characters by equipping the appropriate ring accessories. For example, Fray learns fire magic by default, but can also learn water magic by equipping him with a Water Ring. This allows for fantastic customisation, since, with the right accessories, you can mix and match magic across characters as you wish.
As the game progresses and combat becomes more difficult, balance is thrown completely out the window. Most level-appropriate skills require one-third or even one-half of your total EP (mana/MP equivalent) to use. In late-game battles, I often needed to dedicate a character to continually use EP-restoring items. Bosses tend to use the same strategies too: open with a powerful attack that hits all party members, and then continue with single- or double-target assaults. You’ll end up applying the same strategies to most battles, which renders a wide variety of magic and skills useless. There’s an auto-battle option to help speed things up though, and you can even customise the type of attacks you want executed.
On the field, Alphadia Genesis is a typical 90s-era JRPG. The story takes you from one identical town to another where you’ll chat with all the townsfolk, buy new equipment and pick up some sidequests. There’s about a couple of dozen of them to complete, but they’re mostly “go kill ten of this” or “bring me back ten of these.” Dungeons are all the same: long, empty corridors. There’s only a handful of “puzzles” throughout the entire game, and they won’t take more than a few seconds to solve. You can zoom in and out though by pinching the screen, which makes avoiding dead ends less frustrating than it could have been.
Even with an upfront cost, there are a number of optional in-app purchases you can make if you wish. These include some special accessories and other items that could make the game slightly easier. Thankfully, you can avoid them entirely and never feel like you’re missing out on content.
At fifteen or so hours long, Alphadia Genesis is a great length for a mobile RPG. You can save anywhere, and death is remedied with a simple “retry” option in battle. Aside from a poor, error-filled translation, there’s little about the game that is notably bad. Instead, it’s consistently average, never managing to rise to great heights. I didn’t dislike my time with Alphadia Genesis, but I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it, either.
Footnote: Oh, and in case anyone was interested about the world’s most equitable climate: I can’t say if their information was accurate or not, but apparently it’s a small town west of Sydney in Australia’s Blue Mountains called Falcounbridge.