‘Live A Live’ Review: A Timeless Epic For Nintendo Switch
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Featured Image Credit: Nintendo
Timeless. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think about Live A Live. After playing through this 90s throwback, it’s incredible to see how the separate plotlines - spanning from Prehistory to Distant Future - all combine to produce an epic tale of overcoming evil in its many, yet familiar, forms.
See the trailer for Live A Live here:
As I mentioned in our preview, this HD-2D RPG serves up a wide array of protagonists from different eras. Each chapter puts you in the role of a hero who must do their part against a malevolent force. Initially faced with seven different scenarios, you can choose the order in which they unfold.
There are traditional RPG setups, such as the Near Future setting where you play an orphan with psychic abilities who must take down an evil corporation. This section of the game involves exploring a gorgeous, slightly futuristic city. You’ll talk to NPCs, collect items, and fight enemies in grid-based/turn-based battles.
Then there are less conventional storylines, like the Present Day tale of a man who dreams of becoming the strongest warrior in the world, à la Street Fighter. This chapter does away with all the exploring and instead serves up a series of fights that you must win in order to roll credits.
This versatility keeps the game fresh long into your playthrough. Things change, even if only slightly, and your playstyle changes with it. In the Imperial China story, you go out into the world as a martial arts master who can handle himself against anyone. On the flip side, the Distant Future scenario has you playing a tiny robot who has to avoid confrontation in order to survive.
Every chapter is excellent and deserves a place as part of this grand adventure through time, although I would suggest saving often to avoid huge time losses when you lose a battle. This happened to me mostly in the Twilight of Edo section, so maybe start with something else.
The Prehistory section is especially charming. Without using any written dialogue, this story is endearing and hilarious. Playing as Pogo, a green-haired caveman, you and your ape friend Gori must embark on a quest to save a new friend from a hostile tribe. Using only pictures and expressions, this plot will pull you in immediately, as if playing through a cartoon.
As I previously said, it’s tough not to look at Live A Live and think of Chrono Trigger and the recent remasters of early Final Fantasy titles. Similarities are present and in no way unwelcome as every title mentioned here is brilliant. The thing is, Live A Live very quickly establishes itself as unique.
This game is incredibly bold in its ambitions. The way it switches up the formula from chapter to chapter is so daring, especially when you consider how long ago this game first released (1994 in Japan). The creative vision on display here is astonishing, and it’s hard not to imagine what a full remake - Final Fantasy VII style - would achieve. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Another excellent feature is the music. Varied by chapter, each piece is as sumptuous as the last. From the traditional influences in the Imperial China story, to the Near Future’s funky, bombastic Go! Go! Steel Titan!, it’s non-stop bangers from beginning to end.
In short, Live A Live is an epic story made up of multiple narratives and protagonists, taking place over different eras and genres. While from the outside it may appear to be another remastered retro title for Nintendo Switch, it is without a doubt one of the best games I’ve played this year.
Pros: Gorgeous art style, incredible soundtrack, epic story
Cons: Death scenes can kill momentum
For fans of: Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy series, Triangle Strategy