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‘Live A Live’ Preview: A Charming Remaster Bright With Potential

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‘Live A Live’ Preview: A Charming Remaster Bright With Potential

As I stride atop the walls of a Feudal Japanese castle, the HD-2D world seems to dance around me. Each pixel pops on my Switch OLED, as I’m pulled into the reality of this reimagined 90s RPG. Live A Live may look like Chrono Trigger or the Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters, but it is a unique game at its core. 

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See the trailer for Live A Live here:

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In Live A Live, you play as a selection of characters from different eras. There’s the Twilight of Edo period I referred to above, where you play as a ninja - canonically known as Oboromaru but you can pick your own name - tasked with storming a castle to save a prisoner. How you do that is partly up to you, as you can decide to wreak death upon your enemies or rely on speed and stealth to avoid conflict. I chose a mixture of the two, and I’m delighted to say the combat is excellent. 

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Using a grid system, Live A Live essentially serves up turn-based combat over a set area. Oboromaru has a range of attacks, from sword swings to immolation, as well as access to offensive and defensive items. Our ninja can also move freely among unoccupied spaces, but you have limited steps before your enemies get a turn of their own. In other words, you have to balance your movement, attacks and items during a fight. 

Live A Live / Credit: Nintendo
Live A Live / Credit: Nintendo

Combat is largely the same regardless of the time you’re playing in. Whether you’re in the Distant Future, Wild West or Imperial China, gameplay remains a constant at its foundation. The characters and places may change, but it all still feels distinctly Live A Live

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The HD-2D aesthetic will have fans of Triangle Strategy and Octopath Traveler feeling right at home in this gorgeous Switch title. As you move left, right, up, and down throughout the diorama-esque environments, it’s hard not to be in awe of the dazzling imagery. Everything is vibrant yet neat, as if finely inlaid by a jeweller.

Live A Live / Credit: Nintendo
Live A Live / Credit: Nintendo

While there is much more to see of Live A Live - which will be discussed in our full review nearer the game’s release - it’s clear from the off that, despite looking more modern than in its original release, this is a 90s game, warts and all.

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Death means back to the title, a punishment that most modern games have moved on from. Now, you are able to save at almost any moment, so it’s nowhere near as frustrating as playing the old Super Famicom (SNES) version, but this design choice sure does have a way of killing your momentum.

It’s not as if Live A Live is as difficult as Sekiro - although Orobomaru’s story does feel like a 32-bit era forerunner to FromSoftware’s samurai tale - but any game where losing a battle results in a cutscene followed by reloading the whole thing is not one you’ll want to make mistakes in. This means the stakes are higher, and everything feels that little bit more epic because of the price of failure.

Live A Live / Credit: Nintendo
Live A Live / Credit: Nintendo
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Although it’s early days, it’s safe to say Live A Live has hooked me already. I’m eager to dive into the other chapters I’ve not even mentioned here, and I can’t wait to see how these separate eras and protagonists all weave together. While it may show its age early, Live A Live has the potential to be a must-play for Switch gamers. 

Live A Live tested releases for Nintendo Switch on July 22, 2022, with demo available now. Game tested with code provided by Nintendo. 

Featured Image Credit: Nintendo

Topics: Nintendo Switch, Preview

James Daly
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