Ara Fell: Enhanced Edition is a retro-style Japanese RPG by Stegosoft Games. This Enhanced Edition features a slew of upgrades over the original PC release. From an updated battle system and new character classes to new side quests and an overhauled UI, Ara Fell: Enhanced Edition is a solid love letter to JRPGs of old.
You play as Lita, an archer who’s on a journey with her friend Adrian (who might be madly in love with her). They’re searching for a ring in an ancient tomb so they can earn a chunk of money. However, things don’t necessarily go as planned, as there is a lot more to the ring than meets the eye. Thus, their journey unfolds.
A charming adventure
First off, a standout in Ara Fell is the writing. It’s very charming and witty, especially the dynamic between Lita and Adrian. I was constantly chuckling. However, the relationship between Lita and her overprotective, worrisome dad is very intriguing and more serious in tone.
Lita and Adrian are from a bustling town called Aloria where things recently started feeling off. The animals are disappearing, and there is word of a vampire war on the horizon. I won’t dive much deeper into the story to avoid spoilers, but I must say that I got invested in the character relationships and main plot throughout the game. While the story does have common JRPG tropes and is a bit predictable, it still kept me engaged throughout.
As for the presentation, the game is pretty damn stunning. I constantly found myself gawking at the beautiful 16-bit pixel art. However, where the presentation truly shines is the soundtrack. While the art style is 16-bit, the score is modern instruments, and there are some truly breathtaking songs. Seriously, if you’re not captivated by the opening song, you may have no soul. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack even when I’m not playing the game, which is the highest praise it can receive from me.
Too big for its own good?
The game world itself is pretty darn massive though — a bit too massive for my taste. Ara Fell is well known for being an open-ended experience where you’re free to explore most areas even if you’re ill-prepared. And while this will surely be an admirable quality to many, it slightly hindered my experience with the game. I would have preferred a bit more linearity. I often found myself lost and confused on where to go. Sometimes the quest objective could be too vague on where you should be heading next. If you’re like me and don’t have much sense of direction, prepare to roam around for longer than necessary looking for where to go next.
The game looks and runs well on Nintendo Switch. Handheld mode specifically looks seriously stunning. The colors really pop and look more crisp on the smaller screen. And of course, RPGs work so well as on-the-go experiences. So Nintendo Switch is the best place to play Ara Fell.
Battles, on the other hand, look a little basic. Special abilities spice things up a bit, but I wouldn’t put them on the same level as something like Chrono Trigger or Chrono Cross visually. But despite this, the actual combat itself is fun and engaging. Everyone takes turns with attacks evenly, so you don’t have to worry about being bombarded with attacks while you think of your next move. It follows a pretty standard combat formula of attacks, skills, items, etc. I played on Normal and things were relatively easy the whole time — except for the boss battles. Sometimes there would be a massive spike in difficulty, which is a bummer. Luckily, playing on Normal will mostly keep you from needing to level grind. Just be prepared for those tough bosses.
As your party grows and changes, the combat expands, and you’ll need to think strategically throughout the game. A super convenient feature is your team fully heals after every battle. So unless you’re poisoned or lose a battle completely, there’s no need to heal at an inn or traveling merchant. Little conveniences like this can go a long way in lengthy RPGs.
Ara Fell additionally features an easy-to-do crafting system. As you travel the world you pick up supplies used for crafting potions, weapons, and even upgrades for your gear. It was always satisfying upgrading my crew and seeing it pay off on the battlefield.
Ultimately, Ara Fell: Enhanced Edition quenched my thirst for a retro, Chrono Trigger-like experience. With rock-solid presentation, smart writing, and a battle system that gets the job done, Ara Fell: Enhanced Edition should be a part of any classic RPG fan’s collection.
A review code was provided by the publisher.