Rise of the Third Power


Review by · March 5, 2022

“They can’t save the world, but they can change history.”

I would love to expound more on such an intriguing tagline, but doing so would mean revealing massive spoilers for Rise of the Third Power, the latest game from Ara Fell developer Stegosoft Games. Featuring eight protagonists and an ensemble cast embroiled in a fantasy storyline loosely inspired by the events that led to World War II, Rise of the Third Power is a far more ambitious and expansive effort than Ara Fell was. It certainly shoots for the moon, yet it doesn’t quite get there.

It has only been 20 years since The Great War decimated much of the world and its people. While some nations prospered, others are still rebuilding. A tenuous armistice was put in place, but not everyone believes in it β€” least of all, the crippled empire of Arkadya. Arkadya believes that the post-war armistice was a one-sided humiliation against them. Through a subversively deadly combination of political machinations, military tactics, subterfuge, and guile, Arkadya wants to divide, conquer, and forcibly unite the nations of the world under their iron-fisted ideology.

The narrative begins with the cynical rogue named Rowan and his ebullient partner-in-crime Corrina on a secret mission to capture Princess Arielle. After playing through part of their caper, I found myself in the shoes of the aforementioned princess. Arielle enjoys her luxurious life but wonders if she is anything more than simply a tradable commodity in her father’s political maneuverings. From then on, the plot kept thickening, and I got to know several more important characters, including those who join the main cast and those intertwined with them. Although Rowan is the primary player character, the game changes perspectives a few times to keep things fresh and allows you to see certain plot points through different eyes.

Exploring a 2D town in Rise of the Third Power.
Princess Arielle makes a rare excursion outside her castle.

The plot has its share of “because it’s a JRPG” moments, and clunky humor sometimes feels shoehorned in, but Rise of the Third Power remains engaging, and the writing bursts with personality. Adult characters are often underrepresented in JRPGs, and several characters in Rise of the Third Power are troubled adults with messy pasts. Each of them is deeper than meets the eye, and their interpersonal relationships are more complicated than they seem. I was compelled by the diverse ensemble cast of heroes, villains, playable, and non-playable characters β€” I’m sure everyone who plays this game will find a favorite somewhere in the game’s world.

However, one obstacle with the game’s story is that the font used for all the in-game text (be it dialogue, narration, tutorials, menus) is awful. A game with as much text as Rise of the Third Power needs a clean, legible, and decent-sized font; the letters presented here are small, overly pixelated, and difficult to read. The icons in the menus could have been larger as well, allowing the interface to be less twiddly.

Luckily, Rise of the Third Power‘s soundtrack consists of myriad pieces of licensed music from AudioJungle. Despite the music being from several composers and encompassing several genres β€” from classical to metal β€” each piece was painstakingly selected to fit its intended character, scene, event, etc. Yes, it would have been nice to have a completely original soundtrack because you can hear many in-game songs elsewhere, but I wasn’t really thinking about that as I was playing Rise of the Third Power. I was simply immersed in a good game with a fitting soundtrack.

I share a similar sentiment regarding the graphics. Rise of the Third Power was made using Unity, though many of the assets show its RPG Maker roots. That being said, there is plenty of original art in the character portraits, sprite work, battle animations, and several environmental set pieces. I think it’s a nice-looking game and, again, was too engulfed in the game’s vibrant world to nitpick any assets I’ve seen in other RPG Maker games I’ve played over the years. The one aspect that might be divisive among fans is the anime-inspired character portraits accompanying the dialogue. I liked their expressive faces and vivid colors, but others may find them too cartoony.

Rise of the Third Power Screenshot Of Two Character Engaging In Turn Based Combat Against Some Soldiers In Dark Armor, Against The Backdrop Of A Sunset Through The Windows.
The strategic battles look far better in motion.

Rise of the Third Power is a fairly linear journey with a satisfying ending, but the game has sidequests and allows for plenty of exploration, so I hardly felt like I was being led around by the neck. The overworld is expansive and filled with bustling towns to slum in and healthy-sized dungeons to traipse through. The areas themselves were just the right size for me β€” just large enough to encourage exploration but not so large that tedium would set in. The bottom line is that Rise of the Third Power’s world is well designed, and I was quite absorbed in it.

Hostile encounters are inevitable on any RPG journey. In Rise of the Third Power, enemy encounters are visible on the field and only respawn when you stay at an inn or by asking the wandering merchant β€” whom the party sometimes sees in dungeons β€” to reset enemy spawns. Three characters participate in battle, but all EXP gained is distributed to the entire entourage so nobody falls behind. Characters can also be swapped out during combat, which is an important mechanic to use.

The classic “hack and heal” method of JRPG battling does not work in Rise of the Third Power. Even in the early stages, on normal mode, my party died because I mistakenly went on autopilot instead of paying attention to the tutorials. Rise of the Third Power is a game that looks like a Final Fantasy but requires a more Shin Megami Tensei style mindset to turn the tides of battles. Strategically utilizing buffs and debuffs, paying heed to each character’s skillset, finding the right combinations of characters with complementary skillsets, discovering joint combo skills they can do, and employing other exploits (such as strategic character swapping) meant approaching each battle with care. I couldn’t just shut my brain off and go to sleep.

Okay, maybe I could. See, Rise of the Third Power has four difficulty levels (Story, Normal, Hard, and Expert) that you can swap on the fly, and normal actually poses a decent challenge. However, the most notable mechanic is Story mode’s “auto-kill” option where you can insta-win any and all battles to advance the story. I would have really liked this feature in my youth; the frustration of getting through a dungeon, saving before a point of no return, getting trounced multiple times because I was under-leveled or inadequately prepared, and not having a second save further back so I could grind and prepare, was very real to me. Back then, my only options were to completely restart the game, which meant losing a day’s worth of progress or use a cheat device to pummel the boss and advance the story.

Rise of the Third Power Screenshot That Shows The World Map With Trees, Grass, and Blue Seas.
A vast and diverse world is waiting to be explored.

Speaking of saving, you can manually save the game, but there is also an autosave feature. Sometimes a reminder would pop up to tell me to save the game when I was about to encounter a major boss or story event, and I really liked that. This would have been a great feature in some of the RPGs I played in my younger days, when I often threw my hands up in frustration, shouting, “NOOOOO! I forgot to save!”

My biggest caveat with battles is that while they look good, they play out slowly. This wouldn’t be a big deal if they were infrequent, but they need to be fought often to gain spoils as towns do not have traditional equipment shops. Instead, you upgrade gear in a similar fashion to Final Fantasy VIII‘s junk shops, where you use raw materials harvested from battles to craft equipment upgrades, which are sometimes a pain to harvest. Adding to the drag is that the game requires a fair bit of backtracking, and there’s no backtracking, meaning you have to walk back and forth multiple times through previously traversed areas. Rise of the Third Power takes a good 20 or so hours in story mode, and upwards of 35-40 on normal, so this is not a short game by any means and its length feels somewhat padded.

With its compelling storyline, the ensemble cast of memorable characters, and solid worldbuilding, Rise of the Third Power offers longtime JRPG fans a taste of why they fell in love with the genre in the first place. It also allows you to pet a plethora of pooches and pussycats too! Unfortunately, the poorly chosen font, slow-paced battles, lack of fast travel through previously explored areas, and awkward attempts at comic relief bring the game down. However, f you can look past Rise of the Third Power‘s flaws, you will find a robust JRPG experience.


Colorful ensemble cast, intriguing storyline, plenty of dogs and cats to pet.


Questionable font choices, slow and often repetitive progression, forced humor.

Bottom Line

An enjoyable, if flawed, classically-styled JRPG experience.

Overall Score 81
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Neal Chandran

Neal Chandran

Neal is the PR manager at RPGFan but also finds time to write occasional game or music reviews and do other assorted tasks for the site. When he isn't networking with industry folks on behalf of RPGFan or booking/scheduling appointments for press events, Neal is an educator, musician, cyclist, gym rat, and bookworm who has also dabbled in voiceover work and motivational speaking.