If there’s one company that knows the ARPG like the back of their hand, it’s Nihon Falcom. They pioneered the genre over 2 decades ago and since then have continued to showcase their design prowess with the likes of The Legend of Heroes, and Zwei. Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection. The ARPG genre has since then evolved dramatically and it’s very clear that Nihon Falcom are constantly striving to ensure fans needs are met, but also to create truly immersive experiences. Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection is wacky, fun and very challenging which rewards players with plenty to do once they’ve managed to get the hang of everything. Anyone who enjoys a nice action packed role playing experience will definitely enjoy Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection.
What to Expect
Despite being released in Japan back in 2008, Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection still provides this fresh feeling since a lot of new content has been added to the Steam version, such as the inclusion of more voice lines than the original meaning that you’re more likely to have a more consistent flow of dialogue throughout the game. You also have some vast visual improvements that really give the game more of a modern feel, along with a unique experience system which is based around food. We’ll get more into that in the gameplay section but in short, players must rely on food in order to gain experience as you progress through the game and so, ensuring you have an abundant supply is how you level up to clear dungeons later in the game. This is unlike any other action RPG experience and so, if you’re looking for a fresh new take on the genre along with a quirky standalone narrative, then expect Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection to be up your alley.
The story begins with Ragna, a skilled treasure hunter and Aeroplane pilot who’s on a mission to do what he does best: collect new treasure. Unfortunately, that mission comes to a halt when he’s attacked by unknown assailants and his plane is shot down, Ragna presumably dead on impact. However Ragna wakes up in a village and is taken care of by the Museum curator Theo, who tells him that he managed to survive the crash with only very minor injuries. Thanks to the cavalier vampire princess Alwen du Moonbria Ragna stays alive, but is now under a blood contract with the random girl and must now work alongside her in order to restore her magical abilities. Now, the two of you race off into the world in order to discover Alwen’s magical powers and their whereabouts, but little do they know, there’s a dark presence looming in the horizon...
So as we mentioned earlier regarding the level up system in Zweii: The Ilvard Insurrection, you’ll be spending a lot of your time collecting food in order to not only restore health but to gain experience for each character. Every battle is in real time meaning that you don’t need to wait your turn in order to attack the enemy, and due to the unique food based experience system you’re free to level up your character at any time you please. So instead of relying on combat to sustain a strong level for boss battles, you could easily save your food for the harder battles and level up while you’re actually fighting which is pretty awesome. One other perk about food is that if you happen to have a large quantity of one item say Sushi, you can then take it back to the Panda Inn’s chef and he’ll provide you with an upgraded version of that item.
Having this choice to either stock up and wait for stronger engagements or just devouring whatever comes your way for that quick fix is what makes playing Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection a real thrill. You’re not reliant on one simple approach and so it really all depends on what path you intend to travel on and how strong you want your characters to be early on. Another cool perk that you’ll come across in Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection is that you can purchase pets to travel with you on your journey, and not only do they stay by your side all the time but they actually help you in battle. So say you purchase the cat for example, when engaged in battle the cat will swipe its way through whatever stands in its way, pretty much acting as a third party to your already strong duo setup.
This cool addition is not only funny but very original because we’ve never come across an ARPG that lets players purchase pets, and those pets can take enemies out for you. So you can create a clan of pets to engage in fierce boss battles while you collect all the food to level up along the way. Another really funny aspect about Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection is just the overall design of the game and how random everything is. One minute you’re talking to a regular looking human and the next minute you’re having a delightful conversation with cat-people. It’s that over the top quirkiness that truly makes playing the game so fun because there’s always something new to experience which only encourages you to dive deeper to uncover more.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
While Zweii: The Ilvard Insurrection isn’t a groundbreaking title by any means it certainly tries to step out of the ARPG comfort zone by applying new methods of leveling up your characters, and throwing pets into the fray to assist you in battles. It’s not meant to be realistic and visually stunning by any means, which brings us to our next point. Zweii: The Ilvard Insurrection came out about 9 years ago which makes it pretty outdated when you consider the more newer titles Nihon Falcom has released as of late, but the team did a splendid job of keeping the game looking pristine giving it a nice HD makeover for Steam users. It certainly gave the game more vibrance but sadly, the gameplay at times can feel a bit stiff.
When in battle, you can’t really cancel moves into other moves meaning that when engaged in an all out boss battle, you have to be very mindful of your moves properties at all times. Another issue we found was that, jumping seemed to be the only way to avoid contact and that sometimes caused us to get caught in the enemy vortex. For example the first boss you encounter has a move that has a vacuum like effect which sucks you in as you try to run away. If you ever get knocked down by this move expect to be annoyed because it’s hard to get out of and so, you’ll be using a ton of food to ensure you don’t die. Other than that Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection is a total blast to play and once you can overlook some of the cons the game struggles to iron out due to its age, it’s a gem that we recommend any ARPG fan to pick up.
A great ARPG experience.
The visual upgrade adds more appeal.
Added voice overs provide a more concrete narrative.
Typical Nihon Falcom ARPG action which is solid.
You get to control two characters at once tag team style!
Use pets to do your bidding!
Due to the game’s age, the battle mechanics can feel stiff at times.
Not all third party controllers are supported.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Overall Zweii: The Ilvard Insurrection is certainly worth the purchase if you’re a diehard ARPG fan, and if you’re new to the franchise it’s definitely worth trying out. If you can overlook some of the outdated features that sometimes plague some of the gameplay then the entire experience is very fulfilling. It’s another ARPG to add to your library so be sure not to sleep on this one! Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date and know when we go live on Twitch at twitch.tv/honeysgaming. We hope you found this review to be insightful and uplighting!
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!