Alterium Shift by Gravity Game Arise
Alterium Shift is a classic turn-based JRPG hearkening back to the SNES era of Final Fantasy games and titans like Chrono Trigger. With eye-catching pixel art and the beginnings of a fascinating world to explore, Alterium Shift promises an engaging adventure for fans of this venerable genre.
The Power of Three
Alterium Shift features three protagonists, each of whom can be selected for an alternate opening and each offering a starkly different personality from the others. After selecting your protagonist, the game introduces the world of Alteria gently by presenting your character as the student of a renowned adventurer. In learning to become adventurers themselves, the three protagonists each face their own challenges in proving themselves to their mentor.
For my first experience, I chose Atlas, a shy but capable archer who is a little less confident than the other two aspiring warriors. Pyra, meanwhile, is a natural leader with more of a stoic, disciplined demeanor, while Sage is a powerful mage with perhaps an excess of confidence.
Dangerous to Go Alone
The first things that struck me about Alterium Shift were the visuals and animations. Each character is beautifully realized; the sprites themselves are appealing, but the animations as the characters leap into action are utterly charming.
The town of Summiton, hosting the opening of the story, is lovely to explore. A short “collect the wayward chickens” quest is cleverly used to encourage early exploration of the many buildings making up the town.
A delightful cast of characters helps to give the setting its personality, from a bard and dancer joyfully enjoying their music to a blacksmith slogging away at her work, irritated at any intrusion.
It was once I’d left the town that things took a slight turn for the worse. The local area feels almost unnecessarily labyrinthine; it’s fun, pretty, and populated with engaging threats, but it feels a little lacking for landmarks, and it’s too easy to get turned around.
A well-designed mini-map would help with this, and I’m sure with a little refinement this will be dealt with. The forest, further to the south, is more effectively laid out, and its maze feels both deliberate and navigable once you’ve learned your way around.
Fighting and Fishing
The combat of Alterium Shift is punchy and fun; animations are excellent, and the many attacks feel impactful. The classic combination of basic attacks and resource dependant skills still feels fun to use, and a “Limit Break” style meter is used to provide an option for powerful heavy attacks that can turn the tide of battle.
Other fun diversions exist, too; I was pleased to find a fun little fishing game with dedicated spots allowing for a bit of relaxing angling.
The visuals and music of Alterium Shift are stunning; its use of pixel art, 2.5D perspective, and catchy music helps to make its world very inviting.
Moreover, these qualities are carefully paired to create a sense of a lived-in world; the aforementioned dancer and bard feel likely they are jamming along to Summiton’s background theme, giving the town a warm sense of Sunday afternoon relaxation.
Alterium Shift is still being developed, but the world it has presented so far already has me keen to see more. The story, characters, and combat all feel like passion projects, and while there are a few niggles, the focused development gives me confidence that these will be ironed out in time.
A free demo is currently available, and I can strongly recommend this for fans of the JRPG genre or anyone interested in checking out a new, lovingly-crafted pixel art world evoking the greats of the SNES era.
Alterium Shift is available via Steam Early Access.
Watch the trailer for Alterium Shift below: