Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 31.03.2018

Review for Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection on PC

In his souped-up aeroplane, Ragna is about to touch down in Ilvard, one of Granvellan's many floating continents. Suddenly, he's attacked by a pair of dragons! In the ensuing dogfight, his plane is shot down. Inexplicably, Ragna survives the crash with nothing more than a few cuts and bruises. Shortly afterwards, he learns the horrifying truth that he's been chosen by the vampire Alwen to become her blood knight. In exchange for a new lease on life, the treasure hunter must help the centuries-old maiden reclaim her castle. Welcome to Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection, where an unlikely alliance can make a difference.

Zwei: The Arges Adventure was a unique experience; curious and interesting in its own special way. As a game, however, it definitely could have been more cohesive, and a little more user-friendly. Far too much time was spent navigating the unnecessarily convoluted inventory. Not that exploring the cramped dungeons was all wine and roses, either. Then there was the team of Pipiro and Pokkle. Well, it wasn't so much a team, as Pipiro did almost all of the heavy-lifting, making the adventure more "Ein" than "Zwei." Looking back, this was a game that tried so hard to stand out that it lost sight of the fundamentals, which is something that Falcom usually excels at. Still, it had its charms. If the developer learned from its mistakes, then the next title was certain to turn out quite nicely.

On that note, it's time to move on to Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection. In most respects, this entry is a mirror image of the first. Ragna, wielder of the anchor gear, slashes his way through scores of monsters. Alwen, whose mastery of magic knows no bounds, blows away adversaries faster than you can say Bill Rizer. Pressing either attack button will cause the hero or heroine to take the frontline, crushing or shooting whatever assails them. In order to see the story to its conclusion, the dynamic duo must delve into dungeons and defeat dastardly bosses. Exceptionally thorough spelunkers will uncover lost treasures, which are worth a pretty penne. A knack for puzzle-solving will also help in unearthing Ilvard's deepest secrets. The ranking system makes its return, as well. Anyone who can complete dungeons in record time, while smashing all of the pots and not taking damage, will receive an illustrious platinum ranking.

Screenshot for Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection on PC

Oh, and what would a Zwei sequel be without a feast of experience-doling delicacies? Fierce fauna, devilish demons, and krafty kobolds all have one thing in common: they drop their last meal when they are killed. Devouring food is a fine way to replenish hit-points, and the only way to strengthen the main characters. Anyone capable of exercising restraint should hold onto every dish they can find. In the city of Artte, there's a restaurant where ten rubbish food items can be exchanged for something much more fulfilling. Just like the previous game, numbered tiles helpfully indicate whether or not Ragna and Alwen are capable of tackling the next dungeon. Grow fat and laugh in the face of danger, or go hungry and feel the pain.

Where this entry differentiates itself can be summarised into a single word: polish. Unlike before, the rooms and hallways that make up each dungeon are more spacious. It's much easier for the vampire & hunter to evade their foe's attacks. The inventory system has been streamlined immensely. Now players no longer need to rush to their mouse, and constantly organise all of their items, as if Resident Evil 4 never ended. Equipment doesn't take up precious slots, and there's no limit on how much food the heroes can carry. While this change does make for an easier experience, the only way to earn all of the platinum ranks is to beat bosses without getting hurt.

Screenshot for Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection on PC

To seemingly coincide with the sequel's jump to 3D graphics, the playable characters can also… jump! There is a fair bit of platforming to be done, but most leaps are done entirely to avoid projectiles, massive shockwaves, and other dangers. One rather annoying aspect of this game is that bunny-hopping tends to be faster than running, or at least it seems that way. Traversing wide open spaces and long hallways while repeatedly tapping the jump button can really tire a thumb out. On the plus side, the additions of flying beasties and mid-air attacks lend battles a pleasurable sense of dimension.

Speaking of the battlefield, Ragna is far more adept at combat than Pokkle could ever hope to be. Alongside the impressive versatility and range of his anchor gear, the hero also acquires some handy upgrades. The claw gear can grab enemies and send them for a ride, doing immense damage in the process. There's also the glide gear, which allows the duo to cross gaps. Certain gears also exploit enemy weaknesses. Not to be outdone, Alwen can obtain up to six elementally-themed spells. Although she can't toss them around with reckless abandon, they are still quite powerful. Magic is governed by an MP gauge, which takes a few seconds to recharge, if it ever empties. Alternatively, players can switch to Ragna and get a few kills in, which also charges the MP gauge. The focus on interdependency makes for a more entertaining adventure.

Screenshot for Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection on PC

Pets, who are both loving friends and valuable allies, should be recruited as soon as possible. They are much more aggressive than before, and will learn new offensive skills as their level increases. However, there isn't a mini-game that allows owners to send their pets on mini-adventures. In fact, other mini-games, such as "Typing of Ys" aren't present in this sequel, and that's mildly disappointing. Fans of questionably useful knick-knacks might enjoy hunting down all of the widgets. These apps cover everything from the number of steps everyone has taken, to their current weight, the direction of nearby treasure chests, and so on, and so forth. Thankfully, all of this unnecessary clutter can be disabled.

Admittedly, this critic isn't particularly fond of Falcom's storytelling. The presentation and cut-scene direction leaves something to be desired, and the scripts are usually a little too predictable and dull. The same applies for much of Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection. Going further, some scenes are a little too dark in terms of tone; a couple even border on melodramatic. However, there are a few great moments in the storyline, which are elevated by the fantastic soundtrack. For everyone who finds the frequent cut-scenes to be insufferable, the CTRL key can be held down to fast-forward through everything.

While it is very much appreciated that the heroes have more room to move around in, a little more restraint is needed for the boss fights. As the grand finale approaches, these arch-monsters throw so much at the screen that it's a little hard to keep up. When going for platinum ranks, it's easier just to tackle bosses in the colosseum. With a high enough level and all of the best equipment, even the toughest goon can be fried in seconds.

Screenshot for Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Unlike the first game, which was a flawed yet interesting experience, Zwei: Ilvard Insurrection opts for refinement, stripping away all of the half-baked elements. In almost every respect, this was the right decision to make. The combat is far more enjoyable, and there's none of the tedium that plagued the original. Still, the feeling of "sequelitis" is impossible to shake off. There's not a lot of content that's really fresh or exciting. The extra layers of polish just aren't enough for the conclusion of the Zwei saga to compete with Falcom's best. Then again, this is Falcom... Even its worst tends to be better than almost anything else out there. Really, the developer did a fine job here, and adventure-seekers won't be disappointed.

Developer

Nihon Falcom

Publisher

XSEED Games

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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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