Developer: Crescent Moon Games
Version Reviewed: 2.0
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For some reason, playing Aralon for the first time brought back flashbacks of playing Shenmue on my Dreamcast for the first time. When Shenmue came out, the Dreamcast had a whole slew of great games (I loved my Dreamcast!) but there weren't any that really grabbed me and pulled me into the chaos. With Shenmue, I felt like I was on another planet, and I get the very same feeling with Aralon.
Aralon is a huge RPG that is unlike anything else the App Store has to offer. Maybe I'm not doing it justice. Aralon is a huge RPG on an epic scale, one that makes other RPG's seem cold and hands off in the process. Grass seems to grow mid game, the sky goes from day to night, each phase with its own missions, you can walk on foot or take your horse (or dragon!) from one side of the land to the other, you can fish, you can hunt, you can camp, there are a million different things you can do in Aralon without getting to the actual game at hand. Thank the heavens that Crescent Moon Games didn't try to create this decade's Blitzball, because that would've been really bad for our collective productivity.
To any good RPG fan, bigger is almost always better, but I have been critical in the past of games that lose their focus. Maybe it's the storyteller in me, but I like to be taken swiftly from the beginning of the story to the end. Even though it is an RPG, Aralon is much more Grand Theft Auto than Final Fantasy. On your quest to basically save the world, you go on all sorts of side quests (hundreds, maybe thousands) ranging from killing beasts in caves to delivering notes to picking plants to complete recipes. Most of the quests seem noble and just (and thankfully, very few seem tedious), but I wish there was a bit more urgency in the telling of the main story.
Even though the game progresses more like Grand Theft Auto than an RPG, Aralon still possesses some deep RPG elements that will excite any RPG gamer. From the start, you get to select a handful of unit classes, each of which have their own abilities and traits. I chose to be a human warrior from testing purposes because warriors can typically use the widest array of weapons and I wasn't disappointed. In fact, as my spell/ability tree became more filled out (level ups happen often) I switched from having a weapon and shield to wielding two swords at once. Who needs defense? Not this guy.
My one real complaint with Aralon was that it could've used a bit more time in the testing phase. There are some random hiccups here and there but after about nine hours of play I ran into a pretty large issue. After defeating a sinister enemy in a cave, I walked out only to be greeted with a whole lot of nothing. I couldn't move, all I could do was look at the sky, view the blank nothingness of a broken landscape, and check out my inventory. I'd been relying on the autosave the entire time (the game does give you plenty of save slots, I just didn't use them) and when the game loaded up after I left the cave it must've autosaved my game in the midst of my purgatory. The lesson here is to pretend that autosave doesn't exist and save your game often in a real save slot. You'll thank me later.
No matter how much people gripe about the details though, there is no denying that Aralon is the most impressive RPG to ever hit the App Store. There are others with better stories, but Aralon is the only one that forces you to live and breathe in its fantasy world. I can't possibly imagine how many hours it'll take me to finally beat the game (the developers claim 30 hours but I'd imagine that you could play much longer), but I will finish my quest, even at the expense of all the other games that need to be reviewed. If you like RPG's (or just games in general), don't miss out on playing Aralon.