Faraway Qualia by Nyahhoiya
Traditional Japanese role-playing games can be a love-hate affair. Their tropey stories and sugary-sweet characters are revered and reviled in equal parts by different audiences. On top of that, the genre has so many crowning achievements that it often leads to questions of “Why does this need to exist?” when a new one sticks to the basics.
Faraway Qualia is not a game interested in answering those questions or converting genre skeptics. What it does do is present a charming – if simplistic – reminder of what so many enjoy about RPGs.
Faraway Qualia takes a page out of the books of several well-established JRPG franchises, most specifically Gust‘s Atelier series. Protagonist Anisia is a plucky upstart alchemist who ventures to the land of alchemy’s supposed founding, Meltria. There, she discovers a village in dire need of assistance and supplies and vows to save them with her skills.
The game’s plot is bog-standard and simplistic (helped little by the game’s machine-translated English script), opting instead to let the interactions between the characters guide things along. To properly help the villagers with their wants and needs, you’ll need to not only fight the local monster population but also collect ingredients for alchemical concoctions. This forms Faraway Qualia’s core gameplay loop, and it pulled me in much more than I expected.
Exploring the game’s world takes place by pointing to locations on a map and entering into any encounters found there. It’s shallow but effective and keeps the main focus on combat and ingredient-gathering.
Combat itself consists of turn-based battles on a grid, with most characters learning abilities that affect enemies depending on their placement. For instance, you might be able to send a character to the back of the enemy lines to attack them from behind, but that makes you unable to heal them.
Another factor is that killing monsters in certain ways causes them to drop different ingredients. This leads to a nifty system that asks what you want to prioritize, adding some thought to otherwise simplistic battles.
The other main element of the game comes in the form of creating things via alchemy, easily accomplished via the menus in Anisia’s house. Different villagers will request different things of you, each of which will lead to expansions of the services they can offer.
It’s nowhere near as robust as the systems found in the games that inspired Faraway Qualia, but throwing a bunch of things in a pot to get something new remains satisfying.
From a presentation standpoint, the game is cute and charming, if barebones. Its colorful environments and sketched backgrounds wouldn’t look out of place in the 3DS library, though it reuses assets more than enough times to reveal how low-budget the project is. The game’s music is also pleasant, though the acoustic guitar that plays in the majority of the cutscenes began to grate on me before long.
Faraway Qualia is a budget affair – and it shows – but it has enough interesting ideas to keep my attention far longer than I expected. Anyone not already interested in JRPGs will almost certainly find nothing to change their mind here, but for someone who enjoys the genre and doesn’t mind some rough edges, it’s worth a glance for sure.
Faraway Qualia is available via Steam
Watch the trailer for Faraway Qualia below: