Live a Live

All Vital Signs are Good in Live A Live

One of the more anticipated RPGs, Live A Live, has finally arrived in the west – in this Nintendo Switch remake. Now, that I finally had a chance to try out the demo on Nintendo Store, I was pleasantly surprised. Live A Live is a turn-based strategy/RPG where heroes from different time periods confront the Mysterious Odio.

Time periods range from Pre-Historic, Imperial China, Edo Japan, the Wild West and all the way to the far future. The demo, however, had just three of those – so far I’ve tried Imperial China and Edo Japan. Still, these, along with the Wild West, were the ones I most looked forward to.

Live A Live finally makes it west on Nintendo Switch, and I couldn’t wait to try out the demo!

Combat

Combat can make or break an RPG – and in Live A Live’s case, it’s definitely the former! The game offers a variety of attacks, status effects, tactics and animations. These many features allow it to always keep things fresh and exciting. Movement is on a grid, and the system allows many interesting strategies. For example, you can create space to avoid enemy attacks while counter-attacking. Or, with careful planning, you can set enemies up for either a strategic combo attack, or grid hazards.

Grid-based movement allows you to surround your foe and pummel them!

Combat actions occur based on a charging system. Each character has a specific meter – whichever character has it at full acts first. Enemies’ and allies’ meters charge every time you do something. Combat accuracy depends on its specific rating and the direction you’re facing. Each attack has a category, based on attributes and status effects. Those can improve your strategic attack – or your enemies’, if you aren’t careful.

Some abilities take time to execute – others are instant. You will need to plan your attack carefully. Enemies can interrupt abilities’ charging – so watch out!


Each attack has attributes that enemies are either vulnerable to (heavy damage), resistant to (little to no damage) or completely ignore.

When it’s your turn to act, you get a few options: First, the abilities’ menu, which allows you to attack. Next, there’s the regular utility menu, which lets you use inventory items. Those have many effects: heal, buff/debuff, pass turn to another teammate, wait – which gradually fills everyone’s charge gauge, or try to flee the battle. Finally, you can move your character around the battlefield to close a gap or avoid attacks, check your party members’ status, or change the direction your character is facing. You could also heal a fallen party member before they are hit again – and are eliminated from the battle.

At the incapacitation stage, you still have a chance to heal your allies, but don’t hesitate!

Battle Environment

In the demo I played, you could affect specific tiles of the environment by using elemental area attacks. Those standing on such tiles will then take elemental damage – every other turn, from my experience.

Sights, Music & Sounds

Live A Live features some beautiful pixel art environments and character animations. The remake loses none of that classic style. The voice acting, too, is fantastic. I really enjoyed the way the English-speaking voice actors told the story, and I hope I’ll hear them again in future projects. Although the sound effects are about what you’d expect considering the time the game first came out, they still weren’t that bad. The music, though, gets you into the epic adventure mood right from the loading screen! I loved the battle songs of the Imperial China and Edo Japan so much that I’d just sit and listen to the former instead of fighting!

Navigation & Map

The navigation system uses a small compass-like mini map that has icon objectives for you to move towards. It’s pretty straightforward because the maps aren’t that big. Grey diamonds signify that you haven’t yet explored or discovered the area; blue diamonds mean the opposite; orange represent objectives that advance the story.

Final Thoughts

Live A Live is a lot of fun – and if you’re an RPG gamer, you owe it to yourself to try it at least once. The tutorials are well done and can help newcomers feel confident in their strategies. Combat, voice acting, music all get five stars from me. Not only did I have fun with this demo, but I’d really look forward to a future RPG fully centered around Imperial China or Edo Japan.

The Edo Japan period was a lot of fun to play. Ninjas, samurai’s, and ronin’s – I’m all in!

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