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HAL Laboratory
Action RPG
  • December 17, 1993
C+ 2 total ratings
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One Thousand is Such a Round Number

An Alcahest review Author: Ziyad Khesbak Published: July 22, 2005
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To tell you the truth, Alcahest is a fairly fun game. Though published by Square, this quaint title's development actually took place with HAL Laboratories, famous for bringing us a particular pink pal. Following in the footsteps of both Soul Blazer and Zelda, Alcahest falls into the category of those adventure games with definite RPG elements and qualities. And while it does a fair job of providing amusement and challenge, its collective whole is nothing more than a mediocre diversion.

Just the pits

The story of Alcahest begins, like so many others, with an ancient evil under the threat of being released, and a hero charged with the divine task of defeating it once more in the same manner as before: a millennium later. So now, it's up to the brave swordsman Alen to gather the elemental guardians and defeat Alcahest once and for all. Or at least until the next 1000-year stretch comes to pass. Truthfully, the story amounts to essentially nothing. But then again, this isn't a full-fledged RPG.

Instead, you've got your stock set of characters that try so hard to be important that you just don't care. Maybe it was somewhere between the princess and the android that I was fighting with my wizard that I realized what a poor effort was made to develop characters past their centimeter girth. No matter.

Thankfully, combat is varied and exciting enough to make you forget the terrible woes of emulating greater titles. There are two items of note in Alcahest's combat system: your form and your ally. Depending on what guardians you have acquired, you can change your form to take on those specific qualities, changing your element and mode of sword attack, and it's sometimes necessary to switch back and forth, which adds some variety to combat absent from simple sword-slashing. You can also switch which ally you have at your disposal, which you use will determine what additive projectile will be added to your attack, and which special ally-specific special attack is at your disposal. The end result is a surplus of slashing fun.

Carnivorous plant, meet steel.

Gameplay is basically on-rails. There is no cohesive world, only the progression of dungeons you are forced to go forward on, no accessory leveling up. That is to say: there are experience points. Yes, like some disgusting form of Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest, you are forced to accumulate experience which will culminate in your leveling up and increasing strength and hitpoints.

The sound isn't amazing; you have your synthesized sword slashes and far-from-inspirational adventure music. Something reminiscent of Act Raiser, maybe. And controls? Who even talks about controls anymore? You're not going to have any problems with the simplistic SNES-era button-mashing.

As a whole, it's a fun ride, and something that should definitely be looked into by fans of overhead adventure games; someone looking for a good fix before the next Zelda game and open-minded about the older generation of games. But ultimately, it's just another step on the stairway to today, and this step is a little squeaky.
Editor's Grade
dotted line "Slash, slash, special attack. You've seen this before."
C+ dotted line Average Reader Score (Based on 2 ratings) | Rate it Now
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Nerd Patriarch
Square Haven Editor
Member since October 19, 2002
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