Where it was once a bold step into digital game distribution that focused on Valve’s games, Steam has become a sort of melting pot for every game anyone wants to sell. That means we’ve got AAA titles mixing with the most niche indie games and both of those butting heads with barely-a-game Unity asset flips. It’s a crazy situation to say the least, but sometimes we’ll discover diamonds in the rough.
Case in point: Falcom’s dedication to releasing localized versions of their older titles on Steam has led to some winners, including Gurumin, Xanadu Next and Zwei: The Arges Adventure.
When a bunch of holy idols are stolen from their village in the land of Arges, Pokkle the wanna-be adventurer and Pipiro the fashion-obsessed magician are tasked with finding the priceless relics! Well, per the leaders of the village they’re not all that priceless, serving more as antiques and symbols than anything of value. Further, our heroes mostly volunteer for the job. Still, that’s as much a reason for an adventure as anything, so off go Pokkle and Pipiro to find the thief and recover the idols. If Pokkle and Pipiro sound familiar, that’s because they just might be; in Zwei’s sequel, The Ilvard Insurrection, they were present and interacted with that game’s heroes.
If you’ve played last year’s localization of The Ilvard Insurrection you might be surprised at how much of a step forward that game turned out to be. While the basic dungeon-crawling, food-collecting and puzzle-solving gameplay are present, Arges’ combat and visual presentation are much more simple. You control Pokkle and Pipiro simultaneously as in Ilvard, switching between them when you need the other character’s talents, but there’s less direct synergy than in that game.
Pokkle mostly just charges at enemies when attacking with his katar in melee, for instance, lacking any of Ragna’s fancy combo animations. Attacks tend to pop enemies up for follow-up attacks, which can be a little awkward given this is a 2D game, but the overall experience is so simple that it doesn’t become much of an issue.
Arges, then, feels even more like a relic of its era than Ilvard. Level design is simple, the plot is straightforward and combat requires little thought other than remembering to heal every once in a while. The superb localization we saw in Ilvard is present here, for what it’s worth, and the fact that most of Arges’ text is a delight to read helps the experience become a little less of a drag. The love that went into both making and localizing this title definitely shines through. My one complaint is that like some Japanese games, Arges can be a little fussy about gamepads; I had no luck with my Xbox One controller’s wireless fob and ended up playing with the keyboard and mouse instead.
Still, Zwei: The Arges Adventure is definitely for niche audiences that owes more to classic Zelda and Ys titles; if you’ve played Ilvard, you’ll know that one has more in common with Squaresoft hidden gem Threads of Fate. This is a basic game that hasn’t stood the test of time quite as well as its sequel. If you particularly enjoyed Ilvard, though, you’ll remember Pokkle and Pipiro and should end up having a great time with their adventure even if it feels a little backwards by today’s standards.