Have you heard of Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection? Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t. It’s the second entry in the series from Falcom, the developers of Ys and The Legend of Heroes. Originally released in Japan in 2009 for PC, Zwei is an action series that many gamers might have missed. With that said, you might want to stick around because it just so happens that the west has been missing out on a rather unique and interesting action series (as usual).
Something that should be mentioned is that Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection is a fairly standalone entry in the series and requires little to no knowledge of the Zwei!!, the first entry in the series released only in Japan, but there are characters that appear in both entries.
Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection provided some much needed light hearted action to my gaming catalog, which makes me excited to share my experience with it.
Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection begins with by introducing a treasure hunter named, Ranga Valentine, as he is shot down by a mysterious enemy and left for dead. Luckily, the vampire princess Alwen du Moonbria was in the area to revive Ragna at a cost: For the rest of his life, Ragna will be Alwen’s servant, per the condition of the blood contract that she made with him. His first request is to retrieve Alwen’s stolen magic and castle. Evidently, this doesn’t sit well with Ragna and he changes the conditions of the contract to make them both equal partners, Alwen agrees and they set off on their journey.
For those who have played Falcom games, the towns should have some familiar features. As you talk to NPCs their data is saved and throughout the story you’ll learn more and more about who they are and their personalities. However, this system isn’t as crucial or deep as it is other Falcom games, but offers a good introduction to players who aren’t used to these systems. Also, there are some rather unique world map features that allows players to freely roam the open world and walk to towns and dungeons right at the beginning of the game, although some areas require certain magic to gain access to, which is kind of like entries of The Legend of Zelda series.
Players will enter dungeons with a clear mission to find Alwen’s stolen magic, but that doesn’t mean they can’t find some other useful treasure at the same time. An interesting feature about the dungeon crawling in Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection are the branching paths that lead to various items as well as the end level boss. The non-end boss path can go on for awhile and lead the player further from their destination, but will also allow the player to discover some unique treasure.
This isn’t as complicated as it sounds and none of the dungeons have difficult puzzles or gimmicks to get passed in order to progress. I should add that I’m not trying to make the game seem easy, but it less taxing which makes me think that Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection would be perfect for younger gamers to experience an Ys like adventure without the heavy story and exploration based gameplay.
That said, Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection offers a wide variety of upgradable equipment by using mechanical parts. These parts are found within dungeons at the aforementioned branching paths and can be equipped to gain special skills in combat. However, the customizable features are simple to learn and easily accessed, which make this game all the more accessible to simple action lovers, while offering some form of upgradable system for the genre vets.
The battle system in Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection is remenist to the Ys series. Players can easily switch between the two main characters during fights as they both offer different attacks at a different range. Ranga focuses on melee attacks with his Anchor Gear weapon, while Alwen uses magic based attacks. I felt like the battle system was smooth and responsive, I easily mowed down enemies and racked up huge combos by utilizing the switch feature between cool down periods.
Normally in action game, taking out monsters is the best way to gain levels, but Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection players will need to learn a new feature that took me some getting used to. During battle and while exploring dungeons, players will pick up various food items. Usually, food is attributed to health replenishment, but in Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection eating will not only restore health, but will also increase the experience bar, which is shared between the two characters.
It took me some time with this feature because instincts tell me to destroy every enemy on the field and move on, but that’s just not the case with Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection. Although every enemy drops money, only some will produce a food item.
Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection thankfully has that XSEED localization that fans of the developer have come to appreciate. The story is lighthearted and easy to follow, but offers some hilarious scenes between Ranga and Alwen who aren’t your typical heroes. Interestly, this game doesn’t have many mature innuendos that other Falcom games seem to have in their story, but instead boasts scenes showing a growth in friendship between the two main characters that is nice to follow. However, seeing them disagree on things is also pretty hilarious.
There are a few other features that Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection that players can gain access to. This includes a memo pad, calculator, and other random items that are found in dungeons and can be equipped and displayed on the HUD of the screen. They don’t really do anything, but some of the attachments are so random that they I had to have them equipped.
Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection offers some solid action gameplay in a story told by a unique cast of characters. The game offers many explorable dungeons and enormous bosses to take head on. I would say that Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection is super easy to pick up and really hard to put down due to its accessible gameplay mechanics and easy to follow story.
Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection might satisfy some of the hardcore Ys loving fans of Falcom, but I feel like this game will do more for any gamer who is intimidated by the developer’s other series and bigger titles. It’s a shame that I waited so long to get into the Zwei series, but I’m grateful for a chance to play such a fun and amusing action RPG in a time where serious story premises seem to be all we get.