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“Live A Live”, test and opinion: the mythical Japanese tactical-RPG arrives with us with great fanfare, 28 years later

The oldest RPG fans will be delighted, the others will discover a Japanese masterpiece from the Super Nintendo: Live A Live is finally available here, on Switch. Like titles of the same genre as Triangle strategy and Octopath traveler, Square Enix has taken on the task of making a well-kept remake with an HD-2D graphic style much more suited to our current screens. For the rest, the game is identical, except for a few details, to its original version. Of course, the text is entirely translated into French, but the dubbings offered are either English or Japanese.

An original adventure

Concretely, Live A Live is a UFO in the RPG family, if we take into account its release in 1994. Far from the classic standards of the genre, the title stands out by offering the player seven different stories with a distinct character and specificities. . It is therefore possible to start the adventure in the order you want, choosing from Prehistory, Imperial China, the End of Edo Japan, the Far West, the Present, the Near Future and the Future distant. Once these seven paths have been traveled, with very variable timings, the end of the game is joined in two additional chapters. The whole loop in about twenty hours.

In practice, each universe is very well written and a different music agrees each time to complete the journey. The sets and atmospheres are very different and, even if the specificities of the characters are not always very relevant (such as the power to hide in feudal Japan), the pleasure and wonder are there. The landscapes as well as the backgrounds are magnificent, and the fact of being able to move in depth is original.

Tactics, but not too much

If the adventure is atypical, the gameplay is at least as much. More than a traditional RPG, Live A Live is a tactical-RPG. Here, no mana or energy, but plenty of time to manage on a gridded battlefield. Each character, like each opponent, is based on a charge gauge for his attacks, knowing that a powerful attack consumes more time.

Unfortunately, the tactical aspect is not very developed. Sometimes you have to adapt your strategy for one or the other tough enemy, but, overall, performing the same movements and attacks is enough. Moreover, the difficulty is not always well managed, with stories that are sometimes full-bodied, sometimes negligible. Apart from this aspect, the characters themselves are varied, with different ways of approaching each of the seven adventures. And their attacks are sometimes visually impressive.

A little more approachable

If, as already said, Live A Live remains the same game as originally, small changes have been made to make the experience more accessible. For example, a map has been added to better navigate the different paths. Unfortunately, it is difficult to read. Also, the password system in the frame of Feudal Japan has been removed. Unlike the original game, each password is now given automatically. These two examples represent one of the only faults of this game: what could have been more accessible has not been well reworked and certain passages now lack player involvement. However, this has little impact on the gaming experience, which remains very pleasant.

Good points

1. A classic to finally discover

2. Neat HD-2D and music

3. The original story and gameplay

Negative points

1. Sometimes repetitive

2. A poorly distributed difficulty

3. Some awkward changes