A nice action RPG game with some optional tasks if you don’t mind to grind a bit.
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: XSEED Games,
Marvelous USA, Inc.
Release date: 31 Oct, 2017
Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection is the second title of the Zwei series, succeeding Zwei: The Arges Adventure. It features exploration in a brand new continent with the reoccurrence of some characters from the previous game. Before we proceed, I would like to tell you that my knowledge of the first game is only up to the screenshots that I saw on the Steam store page, so my review will be based on that.
The game has 3D, cute-looking visuals. Characters are displayed in small proportions, making everyone look young despite their age. Although the environments are made up of low-poly models, it doesn’t fail to amaze me with their presentations. Backgrounds have great composition and unique look, and the addition of foggy effects at some area help to make it look more atmospheric.
Some dialogues are voice dubbed to help with the immersion. I found the voice of the main character, Ragna, to be weird at first, although it doesn’t take long before I get used to it. Everyone is voiced very well although they might sound a bit bland if you compare it with one villain that talks expressively.
As for the story, the game does a good job in its worldbuilding. Each resident in Ilvard has different interests and characteristics, and it was fun talking to them to find out what they are thinking. Some additional info will also be revealed if you keep on bothering them, although you don’t have to do it to understand the full story. At the end of the day, I become fond of the characters, whether they are villains, main characters, or NPCs.
Although you don’t have to play the first game to understand the story, doing so is encouraged. You’ll meet some characters from the first game and they will refer to some events that happened in the past. I felt missing out whenever that happens and kept on regretting not playing that one first, especially since the main characters are so lively and interesting.
The game focuses on dungeon delving and treasure hunting. Dungeons are spread in the world map, each containing ~5 dungeons in each area. Your task is to traverse these areas and reach the goal, whether it’s by defeating all enemies, collecting all chests, or all of them. Your progress will be ranked at the end of the dungeon, ranging from bronze to platinum.
Items can be used in two ways. One is to heal your HP and the other is to increase your EXP. However, if you choose to use the items for the latter one, know that you can trade 10 of the same items to an item that grants you higher EXP points. This changes the playstyle into two: casual players need to grind items to get enough healing items and leveled up while those who seek challenges can try to use items only to increase their EXP. Attempting to clear all dungeons in platinum also helps to increase your item stock, especially since you need to redo the same level a lot of times to achieve it.
You can switch between two persons. Ragna is a melee attacker with huge burst damage while Alwen is a ranged attacker with various spells that can help in different situations. Although you’ll stick to use one character at first, more varied enemies will be introduced later on, forcing you to switch tactics depends on the enemy that shows up. Figuring out which spells that is more effective on an enemy and figuring out their attack pattern is one of the joys of playing the game.
Bosses have different attack patterns and weak points, forcing you to figure out what to do to defeat them. It can take several tries before you can figure out how to dodge them, especially if you try to defeat them without using any items. It feels rewarding when you finish them off.
Some chests in the dungeons are hidden beneath puzzles. Some are simple, some are more tricky to solve. You need to figure out the clues hinted at some areas, which might or might not be noticeable at the start. It can be hard to solve some puzzles because of this, and some of them will also prove to be annoying to solve.
Length and Difficulty
I finished the game in ~65h. My playtime is a lot higher than it’s supposed to be since I tried to get platinum on all levels and boss fights except for the last two ones. However, even though I replayed some dungeons several times, my levels tend to be lower than the recommendation at the beginning. It’s not that hard to solve the non-boss dungeons in this state, although this also means that casual players, especially those that use items to heal, need to grind a bit, whether to heal themselves or level up based on the dungeon’s recommendation level.
The difficulty is adjustable based on how you play. People who use items will find the game to be easy, although those who try not to use it might find trouble in some bosses. In fact, I couldn’t even beat one extra boss without it.
The game has a fixed camera, making it hard to defeat some bosses when you have to circle them and dodge their attacks. Some cutscenes also have the BGM to be louder than the voice dub. Lastly, you can’t skip cutscenes. It takes time to replay a boss fight when you need to change gear.
Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
Although it can be annoying to get platinum rank on all dungeons, it’s still fun to play the game. The introduction of different enemies in each dungeon help to increase the variety, forcing me to figure out how to defeat them efficiently. The decision to scatter NPCs and give them new dialogues after defeating each boss also helps as a breather from dungeon delving. The game might look repetitive at first with you having to repeat the same pattern all over, although it tries to introduce some variety at the last few dungeons. If you like action RPG games with a bit of grinding, this game is for you.