Release Date: November, 2012
Publisher (Developer): Modest Arcade (Modest Arcade)
ESRB Rating: N/A
Conversation has always been an important part of any RPG, but it is rarely the focal point of a game. Alcarys Complex manages to make it the very essence of its gameplay and creating a whole new dynamic for how you play an RPG. You would think all of this talking would leave gamers bored or disinterested, but the games story leaves you so intrigued that the lack of combat keeps you wanting to talk to everyone in the game world.
A story of corruption and were-beasts
Alcarys Complex takes place on the continent of Elcaea. The land is filled with corruption and the world already seems lost. A virus called the tetra-alcaryine virus has caused several people to take on humanoid form of common animals such as wolves, rabbits, foxes and bears. Unable to control their transformations at times, they can lose cognition and become violent. Several countries have been treating these individuals into second-class citizens. In other countries they often “disappear”.
In Alcarys Complex, you take the role of six different characters and follow their individual perspectives on the events happening in their world very similar to the Song of Ice and Fire series. The perspectives shift between young Corvalass, who finds out he is a cursor; Angela the military woman, a hired mercenary named Leyt and three other denizens who are all a part of the greater factions they work under.
Exploration and combat are still important parts of the gameplay, but these two take the back seat in Alcarys Complex. Dialogue and story take center stage and beyond. Your experience points are now replaced with sociability points. These are earned by talking to individuals in towns and around the open world. The average citizen offers you a decent amount of SP, but more complex story conversations allow for a greater SP award.
A lot of good talk, not enough walk
The stand out feature in this game is its conversation system and dialogue. Alcarys Complex delivers an interesting and entertaining conversation system. Rewarding players with these SP points forces them to talk with every individual in town. In other games this can be tedious at times, but in Alcarys Complex talking to the townsfolk allows you to understand the intricate corruption occurring across the continent and find out some of the rich background lore of it.
Alcarys Complex’s rich, while also bleak story, works perfectly in tandem with the games conversation system. Some conversations with in the storyline need to be handled with intense delicacy. Choosing the right character to speak within the party can make difference between a good or bad outcome. And if you do it right you’ll earn some extra SP.
The visuals offer a vibrant 16-bit world, minus the hard pixilated look. Despite Alcarys Complex’s grim setting the world is incredibly vibrant and full of color. Towns offer plenty to do and exploring and finding different townspeople to talk to. It’s hard to believe at times such a dark story is occurring in such a beautiful continent.
Despite the great use of conversation many other typical RPG tropes suffer in Alcarys Complex. While exploration is good in finding and talking to people, there is little else to see and discover at times. Even the open world rarely offers anything to see or discover. Getting lost is also fairly easy since there is no world map or dungeon maps.
Side quests can be picked up as well at contract boards, but once again there is very little incentive to pick them up. This once again is due to the lack of direction that could have been offered by a map.
Leveling up too, thus far, has offered very little effect on my party’s abilities. Since I’m not fighting it out with baddies I can hardly notice the changes in the characters or party’s improvements. This also leads to no need to not buy new items other than healing products.
Bordering on too-much talking
I can’t dispute Alcarys Complex’s excellent focus on conversation. Changing experience points into sociability points is brilliant and could offer a new dynamic to new RPGs. Even replacing combat doesn’t bother me. However, the intense focus on conversation has also let down all of the other great things that make a good RPG game. I had no interest in exploring, collecting items and with no map to point me in the right direction I had no desire to explore any further. The conversation may win over most players, but not everyone. If you can deal with that then I recommend picking it up and sharpening you r social skills. If not, it’s best to skip this game.