Archlion Saga is an adequate, easily completable RPG for the Nintendo Switch. Don’t believe me? Just look at the advertising! Their words, not necessarily mine. The idea behind the design is to make an RPG short, simple, but engaging enough to be worth playing. Does it accomplish that goal?
The plot is where the simplicity starts. There’s a legend of the Archlion King that says once every 1000 years the Archlion King will come and fight back the evil Serpent of the Night and free those with the Curse of the Serpent, who will suffer and die from it in the meantime. As it turns out, you have the mark of the Archlion and thus are thrust by fate into an adventure to try and stop the Serpent. However, you only have part of the mark of the Archlion. In order to take on the task at hand, you’ll need to unite with the others that bear the other parts of the symbol.
The combat system is fairly streamlined. With every battle you have the first turn with the option to attack, defend, use an item, use a skill, or escape. Most of these are self-explanatory but the way the skills work is a bit different than you might be expecting. Generally skills have requirements and limitations to their use. There’s no magic meter to manage, but most skills have cooldowns based on how many turns have passed. Some require a certain number of turns to pass before use. Others require use of another skill or action first. Some have a limited number of uses per battle. What’s also a bit different than most RPGs is that both your party and the enemy party function as a single unit. So whatever action you choose on your turn is your entire action for the turn, but that also means your HP, defense, and attacks are all bound together as well. The results of battles still have the typical experience increase that can allow you to level up and sometimes learn new skills. You also get gold from fallen enemies and sometimes items. You can equip each character with different weapons and armor from their own specific pool of choices as you go. The gold is used to by equipment and consumables in shops, which is generally the only way to heal outside of spells in battle.
Another unique mechanic are the fairy stars. These stars can be found in bubbles around the environments or gained over time by having the game running. These can be used for a small variety of things. In battles you can use a star on your turn to guarantee a critical hit attack. You can use a star after the battle to double the amount of experience gained once per battle. Primarily, though, they are used as keys to open locked chest and doors throughout the game. The game also includes a few features to keep you from getting too lost or stuck. There’s a scrolling line of text that tells you your current status in the top left, which can be expanded along with a map detailing the locations of chests and key points of interest by pressing L. You can also open the main menu to get a briefing on your current and past objectives. You can even hit R and have a line of arrows appear on the ground for you to follow to your next objective in most locations. Once you assemble your full party, all that’s left is to go where destiny takes you and fulfill the prophecy to save the land from eternal nighttime.
There’s definitely some neat stuff to like about this game. I like simpler RPGs so having such an interesting yet simple combat and party system really say well with me. The music has some very moody tunes along with some pretty cool ones too. I kept getting vibes of Pokemon towns, Zelda seriousness, and Castlevania action while listening to it. These are all good things. The visuals are great pixel art too. It’s very vibrant, colorful, and crisp with enough detail and variation on monsters to keep me interested. The grinding is pretty optional and pretty easy to do if you choose to. The mild amount of customization in building your party is welcome and the star mechanic is pretty interesting too.
Although I do wonder what happens if you run out of stars and want to unlock something. Do you just have to wait around for more if you blew all of yours? There’s not much for items. You get herbs for healing, a cure all medicine, and a thunderbolt attacking item. You do keep a pendant with you from the start, but its healing falls off pretty quick and isn’t the best cleanse of status effects anyway. The equipment you get mostly feels the same for every character, albeit with a different skin. While the plot is serviceable and they clearly tried to add some weight to it rather than just having the story be a formality, I do find that a lot of it moves a bit too fast and is a tad cookie-cutter in structure. I also found the hint arrows to be a bit much. In most places they just feel insulting and the few places where you can’t use them are places that they’d actually come in handy. Oh… and there’s the mild annoyance of having to hit A a lot of times to advance text and not knowing when the exact timing to do it optimally is because the game beeps every time you hit A regardless. Or B. The constant beeping for this even when there’s nothing to beep about is just very slightly irritating. Nothing major.
Archlion Saga boasts its modesty and appeal, and I can respect that. It’s short, simple, satisfying enough, and cheap enough to justify what it offers. If you’re looking for a short, simple, interesting little RPG for your Switch for a low price then this is a great one to check out. It knows what it is and isn’t trying to sell you on anything more than that. In fact, it’s almost not worth reviewing when you think about it. The advertising already showed you all of this! I’m just here to confirm it. If you were interested in what Archlion Saga promises, then rest assured you’ll be getting exactly that.