Alterium Shift Preview – August 2023

Alterium Shift is an aspirational JPRG designed to follow in the footsteps of Legend of Mana and Chrono Trigger. Still in Early Access, the development so far has shown great promise that we may yet see another breakout hit this generation with the essence from decades ago. Alterium Shift is an aesthetic charm and once a bit more buttoned up will definitely be a competitive player in JRPG arena.

We took a deep dive into the game and gave the early access a preview. It’s nice to note the game has a demo, which means if you’re on the fence about what’s available now you can always check it out before you commit. In the developer’s notes on Steam, which are really heartwarming and extremely fair, they even encourage users to. Be sure to give it a read if you’re curious about more details about the game.


What is Alterium Shift

Alterium Shift is a 2.5D RPG set in the world of Alteria. You can play as Pyra, Atlas or Sage who each have their own unique playstyle and on-map abilities. Depending on who you pick, you get some slight dialog changes and then various areas open up in the game. Combat includes the standard fare for this genre but it’s very tight and a ton of passion has gone into its development. The turn-order and vulnerabilities actually matter and exploration is rewarding, no empty.

The world itself isn’t empty, which is something that I find very rewarding. In games like Trigger Witch I can feel that moving from point A to point B is just an exercise in time. Here it feels like I can find new things to do, monsters to fight and reasons to move around.

Not to mention the unique save state mechanic the game offers, where each character has its own set of saves that all impact one another. As the game developers further on, this mechanic can open a lot of fun gameplay.

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Aesthetical Design

Alterium Shift uses a very strict style guide and it shows in all of the art within the game. From the starting areas to deeper into the game, the art is beautiful and enchanting. The character designs are very on-point for the era that they exist in and the art design is just amazing. The passion of the developers and the community that support the game shows in every action.

The sound is really tight so far as well, beautiful scores accompany the standard JRPG tasks you’ll go and follow along with. It’s not hard to get lost in memories of the past as the battle music kicks in, with something profoundly different than the generic RPG Maker sounds that these games normally solicit.

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Strong Development Cycles and Community

Speaking of it not being an RPG Maker game, the developer is supported deeply by their community. The Discord is alive and constantly providing feedback on the game. The development team is interacting with the community to help direct and guide various updates. One of the issues I have with the game in its current stage is that there’s no quest log; something that the developer is working on right now.

The game gets lots of updates and runs a beta track to help prevent any major bugs from making it to production.

I do feel the start is a bit rough and there’s not enough visual cues on what to do, but at the same time I question if my complaint is of the genre itself OR if it’s a complaint with the game’s design. I’m unsure, but I’m sure as the game tidies up the start will tidy up a bit more.

General Gameplay

The game itself still feels a bit untidy, which is perfectly fine at this stage. The developer is working on adding in the critical components, like the aforementioned quest log and other QoL gameplay elements. As the game continues to develop and more acts release, the game will for sure be a pleasure for fans.

If you’re an old school JRPG enthusiast, I would put Alterium Shift on your radar. It’s really fun and a delightful homage to the source material it builds from. The story is unique for the genre too and the cross-save functionality is something to keep an eye on; it may have a depth of replayability yet to be seen in ages.