Zwei: The Arges Adventure (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 28.02.2018

Review for Zwei: The Arges Adventure on PC

Legends tell of an ancient and wondrous kingdom that existed on the floating isle of Argess. With the help of princess Tiara, the mighty warrior Paradys sealed away the Demon Lord, ensuring peace and prosperity for centuries. Tch… legends, fairy tales, it’s all the same hogwash to Pipiro. Pipiro and her pun-obsessed brother, Pokkle, live in Puck, a backwater village that’s as quaint as it is dull. Today, their idyllic lives are about to be turned upside down. A mysterious masked fellow has swiped the six idols from a nearby temple. While these relics are believed to be from the age of Tiara and Paradys, trivia doesn’t concern Pipiro. There is, however, a ginormous reward for whoever tracks down the idols. Imagine all of the fabulous clothes and candy she could buy with so much scratch! Pokkle also volunteers to help. After all, he idolises Paradys and hopes to follow in his footsteps. Witness the humble beginnings of a new legend in Zwei: The Arges Adventure.

Determining an entire game’s worth in a single line has never been this author’s intent. Still, it’s a little disconcerting that Zwei: The Arges Adventure can’t be described as such. Simple words like “Spectacular” or “Pretty good” just don’t work. Even the oft-overused phrase “It’s not for everyone” doesn’t quite apply. Here is a Falcom action RPG that’s designed to appeal to everyone, although it does so in its own unique manner, which is both interesting and perplexing.

This game was originally released at the tail end of 2001, and it’s what anyone would expect, from a developer going through its awkward teen years. Although Falcom already had several established franchises, such as Ys and The Legend of Heroes, it consisted of games steeped heavily in tradition. There had to have been a lot of ideas that were being experimented with, but were deemed too risky for a tent pole release. Fans probably wouldn’t appreciate a sudden change in direction. Not to mention, these strange design decisions could potentially ruin the core gameplay. Instead of burying all of the disparate ideas, the developer saw fit to give them a chance in an entirely new game, one that could dare to be different. This scenario is, at best, an assumption, but how else can one explain the Zwei Experience?

Screenshot for Zwei: The Arges Adventure on PC

On the surface, the Zwei Experience is hardly unique in the realm of action RPGs. Pipiro and Pokkle explore dungeons, solve puzzles, and obliterate fiendish creatures. The fortune-seeking maiden is an accomplished mage, flinging screen-spanning spells in every direction. The legend-obsessed cavalier prefers to stab the opposition repeatedly. The two heroes can be swapped out at any moment, although they share the same health meter. The leader can also set their companion’s AI, which boils down to whether they should focus on attacking or healing. In most cases, Pipiro is liable to take the lead, since her ranged skillset offers more versatility. Still, Pokkle is a necessity for anything that involves pushing blocks, and there are plenty of opportunities for his combat prowess to shine.

In most respects, combat is handled simply by mashing the attack button, until everything falls over. Regular enemies get stunned very easily, and can sometimes be juggled to death. Bosses are huge cumbersome blocks with a wealth of HP to whittle through. There is a timing system that allows the kids to perform critical attacks, provided the appropriate button is pressed at the right moment. It’s a neat feature, but doesn’t make a noticeable difference in battle. As long as the player is mashing, they are likely to get some critical hits in anyway.

This action is also marred by the claustrophobic level-design. Dungeons are comprised almost entirely of rooms and halls, some being much narrower and smaller than they should be. Enemies aren’t shy about throwing around several projectiles, either. The siblings are problematically large, which makes them easy targets. In short, taking damage is practically a constant in this game. That’s not to say that every attack is impossible to avoid, but it is harder than it should be. Then again, considering the method in which character progression is handled, one could argue that all of this seemingly unchecked pain is actually accounted for.

Screenshot for Zwei: The Arges Adventure on PC

On the isle of Argess, food is both life and experience. A mid-dungeon snack can bring anyone back from the brink of death, while awarding a few experience points. Resourceful players who properly manage their meals also have an opportunity to receive a substantial bonus. If ten of the same food stuff is taken to the bartender, she will fork over an especially lovely treat, one that’s worth even more experience. While damage tends to be a too frequent occurrence, the system is designed to work itself out. If someone is so skilled that they never need to heal, they are liable to be clobbered in a ridiculously lop-sided bout. As opposed to other Falcom games, like Brandish: The Dark Revenant or Xanadu Next, there’s no end-game ranking system. In other words, there’s no reason to feel ashamed for eating and drinking too much.

Inventory management is another unique aspect of the Zwei Experience. Various items are shuffled and organised between the player-character and the backpack. Space is always at a premium, so any unnecessities should be locked away in the vault at home. When exploring, the backpack can be accessed at any moment, allowing players all the time they need for shuffling things around, or snacking. However, during boss battles, only items on the “belt” can be used. Much like Diablo and its ilk, items on the belt are used via the quick-healing button, or manually selected. The catch, however, is that if a player equips an item such as a hat or pair of boots, then it is automatically placed on the belt. In other words, as the game progresses, expect to only have six slots for healing items, instead of twelve.

Each dungeon branches into multiple paths, which all have their own recommended level of experience. This method ensures that players always know exactly where they stand, and it’s impossible to wander into an area where enemies are far too strong to handle. Most of the routes require key items, and they are usually acquired by doing favours for the residents of Puck. A lot of time was spent giving each villager their own arc. Pipiro and Pokkle also commentate on practically anything they see. Fans of sarcasm and groan-worthy puns will love interacting with everything and everyone.

Screenshot for Zwei: The Arges Adventure on PC

The Zwei Experience also benefits pet owners. Early on, the heroes rescue a dog or a cat that’s trapped in a well. Afterwards, they can choose to leave their new friend at home, or have it act as a third party-member. However, pets in Argess aren’t known for staying home. Like their masters, they prefer the thrill of adventure. While the siblings are out exploring dungeons, their pet will wander the land in search of stat-enhancing artefacts and items. Their endeavours play out in a window in the top-right corner of the screen. The Tamagotchi comparisons don’t stop there, as the player can also influence what decisions pets make with the L and R triggers. This mini-game is an entirely optional and amusing diversion.

Rounding off the adventure is a slew of arcade-style games. Like cabbage tossed in hot sauce, they are an acquired taste. The first mini-game is designed like a shmup, with a ship attempting to dodge hundreds of bullets. However, since the game runs at 30fps, the novelty quickly gives way to frustration. There’s a falling-block puzzler that’s a bit more entertaining, but fans are likely going to get the most enjoyment out of “Typing of Ys.” The player’s mastery of the keyboard is put to the test, as Adol slashes his way through evil. Various names and lines from Ys II are posted on-screen, prompting players to type them out as quickly and accurately as possible. It’s fun, although the overabundance of ellipses gets to be… tiring.

While Zwei: The Arges Adventure suffers from a lack of polish, it remains compelling throughout the 15+ hours an average play-through will take. All of the unconventional characteristics come together to form a charming whole. It can take some time before the appeal burrows its way into the player’s heart. Adjusting to the preferred control method, whether it’s a controller or a mouse and keyboard, takes practice. Thankfully, the level of difficulty never hinges on perfect execution. There’s never a shortage of healing items, convenient fast-travel is always available, and very little progress is lost when the heroes are defeated. Anyone can get into this adventure; skill level is not a determining factor.

Screenshot for Zwei: The Arges Adventure on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Zwei: The Arges Adventure is a rare and enjoyable title, especially for anyone familiar with Falcom's output. The core fundamentals, such as controls and playability, aren't always ideal, and the rough frame-rate is a nuisance. The final result is a title that's buoyed by its charm and creativity. This a rambunctious collection of minor details that still manages a strong sense of coherency. However, it's tough to excuse the messy combat. The way it ties into healing and levelling is clever, but there isn't enough finesse. It's as if the system was designed by a team that hasn't yet found its footing in an ever-evolving genre. To sum it all up, this isn't a classic, but it's still worth experiencing.

Developer

Nihon Falcom

Publisher

XSEED Games

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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