The turn-based RPG genre is still trucking along, working to keep up with the other party-based adventure games that tend to use a more active system. However, developer Moltzy and Drass_ray are trying to keep it fresh with their new game Alterium Shift. This early access game develops a pixel art-style quest to understand the connection between two very different realms.
As one of several gifted warriors and several willing allies, you’ll explore a vast overworld as you follow a grand story about magic and conflict while fighting forces of evil, monsters, and the wild beasts that roam freely. And given the scope of this adventure, it’ll be understandable if you decide to play this game in shifts.
What is Alterium Shift?
When you have an epic quest and a bunch of characters coming together to complete it, there’s importance in giving each one their day in the sun. Alterium Shift achieves this in an interesting way by having separate narratives for each of the main characters. This can make the story a bit tricky to pin down, but there are foundational elements in play.
In the fantasy world of Alteria, the people are still recovering from a long and brutal war with the Dark Elves. However, a new conflict comes into play with the discovery of special amulets that allow for synergy with the world’s energy as well as the ability to shift between different realms. The three main heroes will need to come together to restore balance and prevent all worlds from destruction.
Alterium Shift Well
Shifting can be abrupt but if done right, it can also be a very effective maneuver. Alterium Shift pulls a few of them off throughout the game. Starting on a good foot, pixel art is quality in both detail and animation. There’s the sense of nostalgia that the game tries to capture from the early days of turn-based while adding a modern flair that looks good on even the most advanced systems. Though the characters and creatures are pixelated, the environments and FX are 3D. However, the blend doesn’t clash as you might expect, instead working together to make each other pop in different ways.
Then there are the intertwining storylines. At the start, you get to choose between one of three characters, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and personalities to follow. As you do, you’ll find that they remain connected throughout the journey as they go on journeys of their own. However, you’re not locked in, as there will be moments when you can actually jump to another character’s journey and make them take the lead. It also creates anticipation for when their paths eventually cross.
A Rough Shift
If you don’t shift correctly, you’ll not only mess up the maneuver, but might risk damaging your craft. Alterium Shift is still in early access, and it needs a bit of time to refine its shifting gameplay.
First and foremost are the game’s visual issues. There are multiple instances when characters will enter scenes and start walking above the ground plane, which is extremely distracting. There’s also the issue with clipping, like how when monsters are defeated, especially bosses, they have a tendency to just blink out of existence, which isn’t exactly satisfying.
On that note, the combat could use a bit of tightening through more dynamic mechanics and improved animations. Some of the spells are more bark than bite, or at least that’s how it comes off when they’re actually used. The special moves sound and look relatively cool, but there’s no earning them, you just simply need to wait. Considering there were games like Chrono Trigger that made use of overworld encounters, dynamic arrangements, and combo moves, there’s potential for this one to add something new and really make turn-based combat its own.
Clocking In For Your Shift
Alterium Shift is a turn-based RPG with 2D characters in a 3D overworld with different paths in the same story to save two shifting worlds. The pixel art is lovely, with pleasant animations for characters and creatures, a solid and detailed overworld, and an interesting take on multiple paths in a story-driven quest.
The early access version shows floating, clipping, and rendering issues that can be distracting. It left me with a desire for improved turn-based combat and mechanics. There’s hope that this can change as development continues, as long as there are those willing to work the alterium shift.
Alterium Shift is currently available in early access via Steam. The review code was provided by the publisher.