Sword of Elipsia

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Exe-Create's Alphadia spinoff refines the standard battle system. The story is good, but NOT for children under 10 without parental supervision.

Sword of Elpisia (the name is very easy to misspell! “Elpisia” is the English spelling used on Steam and Kemco’s promos) is a spinoff of Exe-Create’s Alphadia series. No familiarity with Alphadia games is required, since the playable characters and the story are not directly connected to those of any Alphadia title. This review is for the Playstation version.

The primary Alphadia connection is the presence of Enah as a significant non-player character. Sword of Elpisia’s Enah is almost certainly a different Enah from any of the Alphadia Enahs; she is the temporary Guild Chief, runs the Arena, and plays a minor role in the main story.

The battle system of Sword of Elpisia will be immediately familiar to fans of the Alphadia series, or almost any Exe-Create game. The player controls three individual party members; Sword of Elpisia doesn’t use the “teams of two” battle system present in games like Fernz Gate, Wizards of Brandel, or Asdivine Hearts 2.

The player can recruit and summon “pets” to help the party in battles; there’s a dog, a cat, a sheep, a tanuki, and more. Pets cost a turn to summon on the battlefield; their actions are not controlled by the player. Each pet always does the same thing every time they act, whether it’s an attack or a support function. Pets can take damage, and they’ll die if the party doesn’t heal them, but pets are immune to buffs, debuffs, and good or bad status effects. If a pet dies, it can’t be summoned again for the rest of the battle; there’s no other penalty.

Pets are an amusing but largely useless feature. Pet battle stats are low unless the player grinds pet trust (a tedious prospect) or collects pet charms (a highly random prospect). Having to re-summon pets for each battle gets tiresome. Pets typically aren’t worth the real-life time and in-game battle turns they cost to summon, except in the early game when the party is incomplete or very weak. Late in the game, pets die so easily that spending turns to summon them is rarely worthwhile.

Even though pets are a wash, the battle system has lots of convenient features, notably a robust autobattle option that does more than just autoattack, and the ability to increase speed to 2x or 3x. The skill customization system is less convenient in that the party’s physical skills are determined by the weapons one can find or buy.

Skills can’t be transferred between weapons. Getting weapons with the best skills depends on luck, although there are ways to farm weapons including “pet dispatch” real-time missions, or just targeting monsters who drop weapons with guaranteed-drop skills (or a Shop item that guarantees enemy drops for 1 hour of real time).

Unlike weapon skills, magical skills are fixed for each character, and limited in number. Almost every spell is useful in the right situation, while weapon skills have to be selected and balanced against the “passive” bonuses for a given weapon type. Armor and accessories also have a wide variety of “passive” bonuses.

Compounding this is the item synthesis system. Weapons or armor of the same type can be fused together to make the base item stronger. This not only increases the offensive/defensive value up to a maximum of +999; in the case of armor, this also strengthens passive traits if the trait is present on a fused item. For example, if armor has 50% resistance to bad status, fusing it with another piece of armor with bad status resistance will make the percentage go up.

All of these options need to be min-maxed to the hilt when playing on the highest difficulty of Chaos. The lower difficulties of Easy, Normal, and Hard let the player choose what best suits their playstyle, and the difficulty can be changed at any time out of combat. Overall the battle system is fun and fast-paced, just not particularly original.

What makes Sword of Elpisia stand out from other Kemco RPGs is its story and main characters. Both are darker than is typical for a Kemco RPG. An early game arc is set in a town where kidnapping, violence, and murder are perpetrated against women. The broader plot arc is about the Nereid Kingdom’s brutal war of conquest, intertwined with a plot arc about Yado, a mysterious being who brings disaster everywhere it goes and transforms living people into magic swords.

In the middle of this violent world are Sword of Elpisia’s protagonists. The main hero Aldo begins as a very reserved, cold-hearted person, whose only redeeming quality is a sense of honor that compels him to always bargain fairly. He doesn’t have any social skills other than a talent for skillful business negotiation, and rejects the company of other people.

Aldo ends up traveling with the ten-year-old orphan Alice when he accidentally destroys her house in the process of saving her life. Alice convinces Aldo that a house is not a fair trade for her life, because all the possessions she needed to survive were in the house. To settle the debt, Aldo agrees to find Alice a new place to live, where she can have a normal, uneventful life.

The heart and soul of the story is the relationship between Aldo and Alice, which begins as a business contract and very gradually inches toward something resembling a familial bond between two very independent and strong-willed loners.

Notably, Aldo is not an idealist – when he’s up against ruthless people, he can be ruthless to them in return. The other party members, while fully capable of empathy, also have pragmatic traits that make them more complex and interesting than bog-standard good guy heroes.

In addition to violence and war, the story has one final issue that makes Sword of Elpisia NOT for children under ten, unless a parent is there to supervise and discuss. That issue is nonconsensual touching of the ten-year-old girl Alice, repeatedly perpetrated by the female party member.

While Sword of Elpisia does NOT sexualize Alice – the nonconsensual touching is expressly stated to be things like head pats or holding hands – it is very clear that Alice is not okay with being touched. Aldo is often too slow to put a stop to it, if he does at all. It’s played for comedy relief, reflecting Japanese cultural values that lag behind modern times.

Older children hopefully already know that nonconsensual touching is never okay, but younger children need to be taught that. Especially since it’s a sad reality that abusers often try to condition children to accept nonsexual touching before pushing boundaries to something worse. Sword of Elpisia does not acknowledge that nonconsensual touching can be weaponized in such a way.

For adults or older children, Sword of Elpisia is no more harmful than 99% of entertainment media. Younger children are another matter; they don’t necessarily have the life experience to immediately recognize that nonconsensual touching is not okay, and that they should always immediately run and tell adults about certain situations. Even if those situations appear to be nothing more than unwanted head pats or hand-holding.

Pros:
  • Fun turn-based battle system with convenient features
  • Good story with unusually pragmatic protagonists (for a Kemco RPG)
  • Multiple difficulty options, which can be changed at any time out of combat
  • Lots of equipment selection and customization options
Cons:
  • Very little originality to the battle system
  • Story deserves its E10 rating - parental guidance is needed for children under ten.
  • Highest difficulty option of Chaos feels balanced around some Shop purchases, while other Shop purchases are a waste of currency
  • Getting equipment with good skills or passive bonuses is random luck, and synthesizing equipment to its maximum potential is a grind

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