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Most people trying to make an epic RPG Maker game try to make a game like Ara Fell

Imagine Ara Fell being released in 1994 on SNES. It would undoubtedly become an immortal classic loved by entire generation of players who to this day have great memories of Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy series. You know how there are dozens of bad RPG Maker games trying to offer an epic fantasy story about saving the world, but fail miserably and laughably? Ara Fell is a game those games want to become. It succeeds in almost every aspect and is one of the best retro-jRPG-style games I’ve played.

The story is decent, characters are developed, battle is fun (and if you don’t like the turn-based battles, you can just skip them!), graphics are gorgeous (and some of the animations and cutscenes amazing), music and sound effect great...


The game has its problems. Some of them are minor and I’ll come back to them soon, but some are related to the core experience itself. The game starts with the most magical, beautiful areas, music and small-scale characters interactions which are all cute and fun. But the further the game goes, the less risks it tries to take. Even at the beginning it uses some safe story clichés such as “a girl finds a magical (piece of jewelry) and becomes The Chosen One”, but after some time it basically reminds you reading “The Grand List Of Console Role Playing Game Clichés” (you can Google it if you want). Sure, all of the implemented ideas are well thought out and everything is fine... But it’s just fine. Fine and basic. If you are new to RPGs or have a huge amount of nostalgia, you’ll be charmed, but if you are like me and you just love new, creative stories that make you Think, it’s not what you’ll find here.

The game overall uses a lot of weird RPG-Makerish ideas which don’t have much sense for an outsider and don’t help the experience at all. Why can we walk into every house and just rob citizen’s chests, taking away their life savings? Why do so many characters just “walk in one place” (it’s a basic RPG Maker way of symbolizing “the character does something but we can’t animate it”... but it looks really bad), even on trees? Why is the game filled with random encounters which demand you repeat the same fight 10, 20, 30 times? Why are there crafting mechanics if you can find, get or buy most of the powerful armors and weapons anyway?

You also need to get ready to not being able to make any significant choice considering the plot – the game is not only very linear, but also has one and only one version of story to offer, what is very common in jRPG world, but for western RPG players it may be rather weird. You need to know that you don’t play this game to participate in the story, but to spectate it.

There are some minor bugs but the major problem I had was the annoying repetition of music. Don’t get me wrong – the music itself is mostly fine, sometimes great, but there is not enough of it to fill entire 15-16 hours of gameplay. Sometimes you are going to explore an area for an hour or so and you’ll keep listening the same minute of tunes over and over again, to the point you’ll start getting insane. I’m autistic so it didn’t bother me As Much, but when my girlfriend was sitting nearby she made me wear headphones since she was “getting crazy” (her words) from this music. The game definitely needed variety and this aspect sort of spoils the experience.

One of the redeeming features is that the game is very player-friendly. You can build your characters’ statistics by yourself and if you think you made a bad job, you can reset them and try again thanks to NPCs located in many convenient places. You are almost always close to a friendly merchant and trading itself is very easy and accessible. One of the greatest tools is the so-called “story mode” feature – you can turn it on to give your characters a special ability that instantly kills your enemies, so if you’re not enjoying some of the fights or are tired of grinding, you can just quickly roll with it and oneshot your path through. The game remind you to save before any major encounter and allows you to skip some of the cutscenes as well as just walk away and postpone the fight. The characters regenerate outside-of-battle very fast and you can sometimes find special monuments explaining how strong your party should be before fighting in a new area. I love how convenient and comfortable playing this game is.

Even if you are not a part of the core target of Ara Fell, I want to make one thing perfectly clear – this game would be absolutely great for a 10-13 year old kid (as long as he or she has an open mind and can accept a game with unrealistic graphics). It has some creative, creepy imagery, but nothing terrifying. A difficulty level isn’t very high for an experienced gamer, but for a person new to this kind of entertainment it can be quite challenging. I think this game would be a perfect gift for a young person – and I’m sure I would absolutely love it with my whole heart if I could play it when I was 10 (...and if I magically would learn English back then ; )). I just wish the game would be less nostalgic and more creative, but it’s really good nevertheless. Money well spent.

- Aureus