The Alliance Alive Remastered PC Impressions
When a remastered version of the formally 3DS-exclusive The Alliance Alive was announced last year, details on the PC version were sparse, with publisher NIS America being somewhat coy about the release date (which ultimately fell a few months after the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch versions). After a small delay, PC players can check out this classically-styled JRPG next week.
Originally being a 3DS game, I expected this PC port to be pretty simple, and it is. There are options for MSAA up to x8, Vsync, and that's about it.
I tested out the game on two different configurations. A gaming-focused PC with Nvidia RTX 2080Ti GPU / Intel Core I7-7700K CPU, and a Surface Book 2 (Nvidia GTX 1060 / Intel Core i7-8650U CPU), each of which well surpasses the listed requirements.
On the Surface Book 2, running the game in full-screen mode ran into a stretching problem. With a 3:2 aspect ratio monitor and a max screen resolution of 3240x2160, but only support for 16:9 resolutions in the game, everything had a vertical stretch in the display. No black bars were placed at the top and bottom of the screen to maintain a proper aspect ratio, and no support for 3:2 resolutions are otherwise offered. The game otherwise ran perfectly well in full screen at a locked 60 frames-per-second, but it did not display properly with a 16:9 resolution being stretched.
You can, of course, play the game in a proper aspect ratio with windowed/borderless mode, but I also ran into a separate strange issue in this case. Even at lowest settings available, I ran into intermittent but severe framerate drops in certain screens of the game, down to 10-20 frames-per-second. In testing these areas, this behavior did not seem to be CPU bottlenecked and also did not occur with regularity, as sometimes those same screens would run perfectly well and other times they would not. So, I am not quite certain why this configuration struggled with windowed-mode performance at 720p, but it was not playable in places.
On the higher end gaming PC, the game ran perfectly well in both windowed and full-screen modes. I was able to achieve solid framerates up to 120 hz at max settings, although you have to have Vsync set to On in the game to surpass 60 hz. The only issue I ran into on this configuration was very slight stuttering in some small screen areas where the camera pans quickly over the environment. This did not seem to be framerate or microstutter performance-related, but instead just a factor of how the camera pan behaves in the game.
Additionally, The Alliance Alive Remastered is a rare console port to Steam that has no keyboard/mouse support at all. You need a controller to play this game, as stated on the game's Steam store page. Even if most consumers play this game with a controller on a 16:9 display, missing basic PC port functionality like keyboard and mouse control and improper resolution display at full-screen seems pretty weird in 2020.
Otherwise, the game looks pretty good upscaled to higher resolutions, even with its 3DS origins, stylized character models, and simple environment geometry. Even the game UI and character portraits work quite well at high resolutions, with only a few UI elements that aren't quite as sharp as the rest of the game.
As for my thoughts on The Alliance Alive itself, after this revisit, my general opinions have not changed much since my original review in 2018. The storyline and character elements are serviceable but not especially interesting in execution, and the gameplay itself is a bit too safe and breezy outside of a weird difficulty spike at the game's midpoint. Cullen had a chance to check out the Switch version of the remaster, which you can check out here.