Posted: April 26, 2014
Alpha Kimori: Great Doubt - Episode One is Sherman3D’s first foray into making an in-house video game, with their previous work having been mostly outsourced programming and artwork for games such as Drawn to Life and Scribblenauts - and a fairly good first game at that. Sherman3D have brought something fairly unique to the table by releasing a Malaysian-produced Role-playing game more in-line with classical Japanese RPGs than anything.
Alpha Kimori takes place in a future in which aliens known as Centaurians have invaded Earth. A god-figure known as alpha Alpha - a giant spaceship - comes to the planet and rescues a chosen few humans, who are in-turn protected by 7 Angels who serve it. Alpha brings these humans to Kimori, a new planet in which humanity can begin anew.
The humans quickly run afoul of eachother and split into two warring factions, the Bidarians and the Jinrians. The Bidarians wish to drain Kimori of its resources (Crystals known as Ki Crystals) to create an attack force to take back Earth by force, while the Jinrians wish to live in harmony with their new planet and embrace the second chance they have been given.
Alpha Kimori follows Rick, a genetically-enhanced Bidarian supersoldier who begins to question whether the values he was raised on are morally right, or if he was just raised to believe they were. The story is a politically-rich tale with surprisingly complex themes of morality and legacy, and there are enough twists and turns to keep you gripped and waiting for the next scene of character interaction to find out where the story is going.
The story is definitely the most important and interesting aspect of Alpha Kimori, and you will find yourself pining for the second episode by the time you’re finished with the five hours this title delivers. Despite a few spelling errors and awkward translations here and there, the story is detailed and well put-together, and will definitely have you thinking about it afterwards.
The game is designed much like a standard old-school JRPG and doesn’t have that many unique aspects going for it as far as gameplay is concerned. It is an unfortunate example of an average game in this respect, as what it does pretty much just works and isn’t that interesting. This is especially noticeable at times in the story when you are expected to backtrack through areas littered with the most basic of enemies.
Much like in Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, the combat system is a standard turn-based tirade with attacking, special abilities, guarding, and items. There is no substance and no interesting combat options. Even when you unlock one of the most important plot-related abilities, it’s just slapped in the Skills menu with your other abilities. The only thing setting it apart from regular JRPGs is the fact that combat order isn’t dictated by a speed stat - instead the player characters always go first, except for one minor exception found in an extremely easy fight later on in the game.
I found the biggest problem with the gameplay is how insultingly easy it is. I didn’t find myself challenged by a single fight until the final boss, which was just straight-up unfair unless you have a good stockpile of powerful healing items. For the most part I found I could win fights in a single turn, which was only furthered by the fact the critical hit rate in the game is ramped up all the way. Critical hits happened so often that it looked like they may as well have swapped the crit rate with the normal hit rate.
Most new areas came with enemies that were only slightly more difficult (Generally more health and a tiny bit more damage) but with exponentially increased experience rates. In one area I was getting 100 experience per enemy, only to have that boosted to 300 per enemy in the next. This made me feel like I was permanently overleveled and made the game a breeze, coupled with the fact leveling up restores all your health and Ki (The game’s Magic Points).
Disappointingly, the design of the game feels like a lot more effort was put into artificially extending the game than creating anything with substance. You are repeatedly sent back through areas that have no relevance to the story whatsoever, and some parts even damage the story just for the sake of 10 minutes of added length.
The backtracking isn’t all bad though, as graphically the game is spectacular for what it is. All the graphics are beautifully hand-crafted pixel art very reminiscent of Phantasy Star and the Super Robot Taisen series, and the battle graphics are fully animated and a joy to watch, and each area was designed extremely well and rewarded venturing from the route you were to follow, making the backtracking a perfect chance to go back and find things you’d missed the first time around.
Accompanying every area, battle, and gripping scene is Alpha Kimori’s absolutely superb soundtrack. There is very little to complain about with the music in the game, with every song perfectly orchestrating the importance and emotion of every scene. The composer of Alpha Kimori really outdid themselves and I applaud them for creating such a beautiful soundtrack, which is most definitely the best part of the entire game and made my experience all the more enjoyable.
In conclusion, there are a few major problems with Alpha Kimori, but these could all easily be fixed, and I eagerly await the second episode with fingers crossed hoping that they have done so. I would recommend picking up this game if you value story more in video games more than anything else, as it is a spectacularly well-told story which now has me craving the second episode just so I can find out what happens!