Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

An RPG Draws Near! Alundra

4:00 PM on 03.20.2009 // Conrad Zimmerman
  @ConradZimmerman

Alundra is a game which I have purchased on no less than four separate occasions. It seems that nearly every time I have felt the urge to pop it back into my PlayStation, the disc is nowhere to be found and the impulse to play becomes an uncontrollable obsession.

This pressing and urgent need to play this game at the very moment the mood strikes should be apparent to anyone who has had the experience before. It is a finely crafted action/RPG with a plot the likes of which I had never seen before in the genre. Come with me as I explain why this is among my favorite games of all time.

Title: Alundra
Developer: Matrix Software
Released: 1997
Platform: PlayStation

Alundra

For a game which ultimately feels fresh and innovative, Alundra begins with the one of the most cliché openings in videogame history. Driven by dreams he does not understand, the titular character is traveling on a ship named The Klark to the village of Inoa. As the ship approaches port, the elfin Alundra has a nightmare in which he is given a dire portent of doom from a great wizard and awakens to find the ship hurtling to its destruction.

Shipwrecked, Alundra is discovered by Jess, the kindly blacksmith of Inoa, and taken in. Upon awakening, he comes to discover that the people of this once peaceful village are being cursed by nightmares. The dreams are causing physical illness and trapping the souls of people within their own subconscious. Desperate for a solution, a researcher who has come to the island seeking a cure meets Alundra and observes a scar on his forehead. This signifies to him that Alundra is part of a forgotten legend and has the ability to transfer his consciousness into the dreams of others and release them from their torment.

Alundra

We've seen all of these aspects of the story countless times in games. Frankly, the set-up feels almost directly ripped from the beginning of Link's Awakening (save the motivation and purpose of the hero's quest) and the similarities don't end there by far. This game is straight-up ripped from the essential gameplay elements of the Zelda series. There is a group of powerful artifacts which must be collected to seal away an ancient evil, a number of powerful weapons used both to defeat monsters and solve puzzles and dungeons filled with unrelenting foes.

Alundra

Where it differs is in the utter lack of fear displayed by the developers in telling their story. The people of Inoa are frequently deep characters with their own goals and passions who question why fate has chosen for them to suffer. They are heartwrenching in their pain and those who still have hope for the future have that feeling constantly challenged and, all too often, defeated.

Death and loss are major themes woven throughout the tale and Working Designs is unflinching about demonstrating that. Characters you care about will meet a cruel fate and cause you to wonder if all your hard work will be for nothing. At the same time, the writing and characterizations are so strong that you want to save them that much more and what begins as a fairly standard adventure becomes a very personal battle against evil.

Alundra

Dungeons in the game are divided into two different varieties. Along with the standard levels which you must seek out in the massive overworld, there are also the villager's nightmares to contend with. These are tailored specifically to the characters who have them and often represent their deepest fears and regrets. It's a powerful mechanic for both character development and story pacing.

Most games which follow this design aesthetic stick to the tried-and-true exploration methods: Travel the map until you find a previously inaccessible area to explore, find its local dungeon, defeat a boss to gain a new item, rinse and repeat. The nightmare levels break that flow deliciously and are engineered specifically to reinforce your desire to succeed and remind you of the odds of Alundra's success.

Regardless of what type of level you are traversing, all are packed full of clever and challenging puzzles and deadly enemies. The puzzles are so good, in fact, that it is not uncommon to have to spend a few minutes pondering how to solve them. Failure often means returning to an earlier point in the dungeon and having to fight your way back or, worse, perform difficult tasks again and you will quickly learn to take your time in approaching them for fear that you may not get a second opportunity as your life is cut short by the denizens which inhabit these dark places.

Alundra

One aspect in particular is highly frustrating to deal with, however. The environments are designed using a tile system in which elements are stacked one on top of another to give depth. Nothing particularly novel, but the design team decided to make jumping a major component of the game and, frankly, Alundra isn't very good at jumping. The tight and responsive controls which are so frequently helpful for making quick turns when surrounded by foes work against you when hopping from platform to platform and many areas involve jumps which must be performed with absolute precision in order to succeed.

In addition, the perspective the game uses will screw with you. Because of the tricks it uses to create a sense of a 3D world in a 2D game, such as the angle of the camera and the aforementioned tiles, it can be very difficult to determine exactly where on the vertical plane platforms actually are when you're jumping towards them. Any leap towards the top or bottom of the screen becomes one of faith as you hope that where you're jumping is actually at the height you perceive it to be and that Alundra successfully clears the distance.

The jumping mechanic ramps up the difficulty considerably but can make the game so frustrating to play at times that controllers around the world pray to grow wings as they are hurled across rooms. Worse yet, the challenge of making these leaps doesn't manifest itself until you are already so invested in the world and characters that abandoning them due to a failure to master its controls seems unthinkable. 

Alundra

Since this is a game that uses sprites at a time in which most titles were making the jump to 3D polygons, it looks fantastic in comparison to a lot of its peers, especially years later. While other RPGs from the PlayStation generation have a terribly dated appearance in comparison to what is available today, this still manages to look fantastic. Great care was taken to animate characters and the visuals feel epic and beautiful. Alundra's music too sounds amazing. Distinct songs accompany every area of the game with gorgeous, mood-setting arrangements. It can effortlessly make you excited, pensive or sad on a dime and is a perfect accent to the experience.

I really can't sing the praises of Alundra enough. It is one of the finest examples of action/RPG gaming that I have ever had the experience of playing and deserves to be resting on a shelf next to Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger. Fans of the genre will find much to love here and I heartily recommend it to anyone who may have missed this utter gem of a game.

Command?

>Attack: If you like Zelda, this is an absolute must-play. Perfect for players who crave a compelling story without the extensive length or grinding aspects in most RPGs.

>Parry: Alundra is hard and extremely frustrating at points. Players who have a short fuse or are easily frustrated may want give this one a wide berth or risk destroying their hardware out of blind rage.



Conrad Zimmerman, Moustache
 Follow Blog + disclosure ConradZimmerman Tips
An avid player of tabletop and video games throughout his life, Conrad has a passion for unique design mechanics and is a nut for gaming history. He can be heard on the comedy podcast () and str... more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Don't have a date for V-Day weekend? Why not fill that void in your life by making a Super Mario Maker Level for this month's Dtoid Designs Contest? http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/CJ+Andriessen/dtoid-designs-the-wacky-wiggler-challenge-338301.phtml
Sarah Jane farron avatarSarah Jane farron
So uh, my dream was interesting. Travel somewhere to get furniture, protests going on, police lock us behind a gate so we go round and blow up their car to escape. Now apocalypse time with city on fire and zombies and then I get a girlfriend.Quite varied!
ikiryou avatarikiryou
I watched the movie Flight with Denzel Washington last night. It got especially good once John Goodman appeared and it turned into a sort of fun, surrealistic drug comedy. But then the ending undid every bit of enjoyment it gave me up to that point.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Putting together the Valentines Day edition of Gaming's Beautiful People and finding it surprisingly hard - ooer, missus etc - to find a male couple to put in the list. Any suggestions? All I can seem to find is the guards from Undertale.
JohnSmith123 avatarJohnSmith123
The story in Destiny seem kind of crummy. I feel like I'm missing something here. It doesn't really click. Taken King however seems pretty good though.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
You know how after years and years of constant truckin' Truckers are known to get one permanently sunburned arm?
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Quick note for Soul Sacrifice Delta: Sony designed it weirdly, and so while most of the updates should come in by downloading the newest update, other stuff you might not get unless you hit this on the main menu. Don't miss out!
Retrofraction avatarRetrofraction
Getting my Ninja on for a selfie in the Bathroom for the contest:
Donald J Trump avatarDonald J Trump
Found this image of myself on Ted Cruz's computer, disgraceful! Further proof he isn't natural born, no true American would have a disgusting image like this! (Censored by some idiot's ugly face)
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
That moment when your dog eats one of your figures but don't notice until it's to late. 10/10 Dog. Yah fuck.
Alphadeus avatarAlphadeus
Love, Lost, Live, Lost (2014) - Yesterday was me and my girlfriend's 16th year anniversary together, so I decided to share this song. It deals with being in love, losing that person, moving on, and learning to love again. It's 9 minutes long, too :P
gajknight avatargajknight
I have done my part. Thank you Niero. Question: Does blocking someone also remove their front-page articles too?
iam16bit avatariam16bit
I've been on this site for sometime and for some reason I've never done a quickpost until now.
TheKodu avatarTheKodu
So I'm hearing the UN called Japan in to discus "Banning the sale of video games or cartoons involving sexual violence against women " Which by Anita's standards = any Violence able to be done. Japan sent a 40 page long NO back to the UN in reply.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Why did I have to read that Austin Grossman was going to be one of the writers on a cancelled Half-Life 2 episode?
Parismio avatarParismio
Dammit its 3 and i cant stop reading cute gay romance mangas.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Going to be honest; I love out-of-context anime screenshots. They're... kind of incredible.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Retweet of the year goes to President of Worldwide Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., Shuhei Yoshida.
Voodoome avatarVoodoome
Just got home from Deadpool and ... it's not good. I liked the jabs at Green Lantern and the previous movie Deadpool, but that was about it. The rest was just painfully forced dick jokes. Wife fell asleep.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Larxinostic rule34
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -