Over the past few years, Nihon Falcom (with the help of XSEED Games) has been bringing their library of classic RPG titles to the west and to PC. They began with the Ys series, but over time they have begun to bring titles over that never released in the west, like the Zwei series. For some reason they released the second Zwei game first, back in October 2017; but now Zwei: The Arges Adventure has come to the west for the first time ever.
As the predecessor to Zwei II: The Ilvard Insurrection, Zwei: The Arges Adventure introduces you to a new continent called Arges. In the village of Puck, you meet Pokkle and Pipiro, two step-siblings that serve as the two initially reluctant protagonists. After a mysterious, masked villain steals six holy idols from the shrine in Puck Village, Pokkle and Pipiro decide to pursue them to reap the reward set for their return.
This is not at all for selfless “let’s save the world” reasons, it is clear from the beginning that Pokkle wants the glory, and Pipiro wants the cash from their eventual victory and subsequent reward. This is only the beginning, however, as this journey will take you (and our heroes) across the entire continent, and will ultimately serve to save Arges (and the world) from certain doom.
The humor in Zwei: The Arges Adventure, is a large selling point for the story and the characters. Even side-characters have something funny or odd about them that makes things more interesting.
Like Zwei II, Zwei: The Arges Adventure plays like a dungeon-crawling Action-RPG, though like the sequel its leveling and progression systems are a little bit unique. XP is accrued by eating food, though you can choose to trade in 10 of one type of food for a more powerful variety that nets you more XP. This forces you to choose between holding out for a better XP reward at risk of failing due to being under-leveled or choosing to level more often but risk missing out on the higher XP payouts.
While you explore the various dungeons, you can switch between Pokkle and Pipiro on the fly. Pokkle focuses more on melee attacks, while Pipiro is magically inclined, performing a variety of magic types for multiple uses. As you progress through the dungeons, you will find puzzles to solve, and powerful enemies to fight in order to reclaim the six idols stolen from Pokkle and Pipiro’s village.
Exploring the dungeons can be fun, but it can also be a grind. Sometimes you’ll need to go back to places you’ve already been, either to farm up food drops from enemies (so you can level up) or to find things you couldn’t access before. This back-and-forth can feel rewarding when you finally get access to new content, but at the same time having to go back to grind can be very frustrating.
In addition to the dungeon mechanics, you also can find mini-games throughout Zwei: The Arges Adventure, that can provide a lot of enjoyment. There is an airplane minigame, a block/gem matching puzzle minigame, a typing minigame, and a few others that fill out the minigame roster and can give you a break from the (somewhat repetitive) dungeon crawling.
The problem with Nihon Falcom (and XSEED Games) releasing the first entry after the second one, lies in the fact that Zwei: The Arges Adventure suffers mechanically in comparison to its sequel. For one thing, the graphics really were not updated at all, so the game looks sorely outdated. For the art style, it is fairly attractive, but it still looks inferior compared to Zwei II. There also is a problem in that there are no resolution settings, and overall there are limited options in general, so you cannot really change much if you have a lower end PC, or if you want a crisper experience.
The controls feel a little strange compared to Zwei II as well, though they are similar they feel just weird enough to be noticeable. The progression system was polished a lot in the sequel, as were the graphics and overall combat. Because of this, it really feels like if I hadn’t played (and reviewed) the sequel first, I wouldn’t be as bothered by this one. With that being said, I do not honestly think that this is anywhere close to the finest work produced at XSEED and Nihon Falcom. If the developers had enhanced and reworked the game a little bit before bringing it to the west I might have a different opinion, but as it stands Zwei: The Arges Adventure is very disappointing.
There is a lot of content in Zwei: The Arges Adventure, and there is something to be said for the fact that this is the first time it has ever come to North America, but unless you are a die-hard Nihon Falcom fan, or you really enjoy dungeon-crawling RPG, Zwei: The Arges Adventure is a step backward you really should pass on. I’m a fan of Nihon Falcom’s body of work, so to find this game so dated and unenjoyable really surprises me. I love the Ys games, and I love the Legend of Heroes series, but I cannot honestly recommend Zwei: The Arges Adventure, even if I enjoyed the sequel.
A PC Review Copy of Zwei: The Arges Adventure was provided by XSEED Games for the Purpose of this Review.