When I reviewed Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection, I did a bit of quick research to find out that it was the second entry in the Zwei series. Having enjoyed the it so much, I was delighted to find out that the first Zwei game would be making its way to North America not long after. Zwei: The Arges Adventure takes on a drastically different visual approach but still offers the same level of depth when it comes to gameplay mechanics and world building.
Zwei: The Arges Adventure follows the twin siblings Pokkle and Pipiro, a brother and sister pair living in the quiet village of Puck. The game’s plot kicks off after a masked man steals the village’s holy relics with our main protagonists offering to chase after him and get them back to the village’s shrine. It isn’t the most unique plot by today’s standards, even when compared to its sequel.
What really carries this game’s plot are its endearing characters. Pokkle and Pipiro are both fourteen years old but despite Pokkle wanting to become a hero like most JRPG protagonists, he’s also got a “dad style” sense of humour. This trait isn’t exclusive to the game’s cutscenes either. Almost any random interactable object found in the game will have Pokkle making some sort of amazingly lame pun about it. Much like Zwei’s sequel, speaking with any NPC will result in somewhat lengthy conversations that help make the world of the game feeling alive.
The visuals of Zwei: The Arges Adventure are the games biggest difference from its sequel and at times, its greatest flaw. If Zwei: The Illvard Insurrection represented a high-end PlayStation 2 title, Zwei: The Arges Adventure looks like a really high-end PlayStation 1 game. The game makes use of beautifully detailed sprites on a 2D world that almost looks like a painting at times. Fans of overhead JRPGs will feel right at home with the game’s presentation. Where the visuals lack, however, are when it comes to certain animations such as attacking: there really aren’t any. Characters sort of just throw themselves at their target until one disappears. Another slight problem is that at certain times, the game’s fixed camera can end up hiding enemies or items if they happen to be in the wrong place. Zwei also has a great soundtrack to go along with its soft visuals, made up of mostly relaxed tracks. Unlike its sequel, this one does not feature any voice acting.
I was surprised to see just how similar Zwei: The Arges Adventure turned out to be in terms of gameplay after comparing the two. All of the same mechanics are present. You can eat food as a means of healing and gaining experience points to level up. You can bring a pet along with you to a dungeon to help battle and collect items. The game even has the same character book that keeps track of everyone you meet and carries detailed information on them as you get to know them. Dungeon layouts are a bit bland at times with nothing but hallways and big rooms to fight in but the game’s quick pace makes this easy to overlook.
Zwei: The Arges Adventure measures up to its sequel in nearly every way. With near identical gameplay, it’s safe to say that if you like one, you’ll likely enjoy the other. The game’s visuals, although beautiful, and the, at times, stagnant camera mechanics can hinder the experience a bit. Despite this, however, it’s still absolutely worth the experience. For long-time fans of developer Falcom this is one you shouldn’t miss.