Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection (PC) Review – Old but beautiful
Platform: PC (reviewed)
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release: 31th October 2017
Besides the Ys and The Legend of Heroes series, there aren´t many Falcom games coming to the west. Especially their older ones are mostly ignored but the JRPG publisher XSEED takes the chance and brings an almost 10 years old game officially to the west, Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection. In addition to the extensive English Dub it also promises to support modern standards on PC while delivering an enjoyable game at the same time.
Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection tells the story of Ragna, a pilot, treasure hunter and lover of adventures. However, during one of his courier runs he gets attacked and crashes in a mysterious island. Nearly dead he gets saved by the vampire princess Alwen, who demands his help in exchange for saving him. Since demons captured her castle and took away her power, only a human can help her now and Ragna is just the right person for the job. So the uneven team sets out to uncover the reasons behind the attack while recovering Alwen´s stolen powers.
As known from Falcom games, especially early ones, the focus doesn´t lie on the plot itself, which never becomes much more than a working but simple set-up, but on the characters and relations. Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection is a very cheerful game full of cute characters and quirky dialogues. Especially the relation between Ragna and Alwen is the main point of the story, observing how they slowly become more than bound together strangers and develop a friendship. Ragna is a very strong, confident main character and he works just great together with the half tsundere Alwen is. Even today it´s refreshing to see such independent protagonists. Mixed with the colourful world full of fantasy and industrial influences, the overall story may not offer big surprises but a lovely trip of an uneven pair through a charming, simply wonderful world.
The combat works pretty much in the same way, offering only basic mechanics but able to deliver a lot fun and enjoyment. Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection doesn´t offer a huge cast of playable character, only offering Ragna and Alwen as a fixed team. While Ragna plays very similar to older Ys games with his close range combo, while Alwen can cast spells and long-range attacks. However, everything is very basic, Ragna only has one combo, resulting in the same button mashing over and over again until the game is beaten. Alwen may gain a few spells throughout the story but none of them are surprising or unique, the whole combat is very basic, simple and unspecial, feeling like an old Ys.
Only the leveling up is handled in a very neat way. Instead of rewarding the player with experience for beaten monsters, EXP points are gained by consuming food, the better the food the more EXP. In addition to the normal cooking system, the game encourages more complex cooking in a very unique manner. To decide if an ingredient should be eaten now or spared to cook a better dish later are choices that have to be made nearly the whole time. Food becomes a very important resource and a whole new layer of EXP management mostly unseen even today.
Frankly Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection isn´t a very beautiful game from a technical perspective, featuring everything from mushy textures, stiff animations, old effects and very rough, old-school menu design or UI design. Even though XSEED tried their best to renovate it for modern PCs by optimizing it for resolutions up to 4K along with the huge graphic options and framerate support for up to 60fps. Still, the fact the pre-rendered cutscenes look abysmal on a 4K monitor or the rough font show that no game can escape time. Nonetheless, the colourful, eye-blasting artstyle can´t be hidden, one of the games’ biggest strength. The world, characters, enemy design, everything looks so happy, beautiful and refreshing to darker JRPGs. XSEED translation skills help to amplify the already great atmosphere, despite the fact a fan translation served as the base of it.
Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection isn´t a very complicated game, consisting of elements found in older Ys titles or Falcom´s older games in general. Despite its interesting level system, the combat consists of the basic basics, while the story isn´t very surprising or unique. Yet, it´s one hell of a fun game with its cheesy but great dialogues, simply fun gameplay and happy, very colourful world. Honestly, I felt happy during my time with it and even though it might not look great or offer much new, it´s still a fun game worth to be played.
[A Review Code was provided by XSEED Games]