Games can be used as a means to address important issues. While players may not be able to directly influence the real world they inhabit, they can make a virtual world a better place. Some games can be a bit heavy-handed with messages, such as Final Fantasy VII and the fight to preserve the planet. With The Alliance Alive, things are slightly more subtle. Issues relevant to the ones facing the world today constantly appear, giving people a chance to deal with inequality among different races and climate change in a game that shows things in black, white, and shades of grey.
Racism is one of the more immediate issues that consistently pops up in The Alliance Alive. In the first few chapters, people follow Galil and Azura in the Rain Realm. This is a location completely subjugated by the Beastfolk for the Daemons. Humans are treated terribly. Beastfolk guards wander the town. Aside from Barnarosa, who is a member of the resistance, even ordinary Beastfolk treat humans badly. The Caged Realm is a sort of prison where Beastfolk rule over everyone. Meanwhile, the Daemons rule over both the Beastfolk and the humans, with the horned ones in authority even seeing fit to “punish” people who go against them. But then, even among Daemons, a noble person like Vivian is still considered below council members. The different rankings among Daemons could be like castes or the division between the the 1% and everyone else in our own world, while the idea of some races feeling as though they are “better” than others is mirrored by racism in our own society that people from different backgrounds or immigrants may face.
With The Alliance we start to see a group that is looking for an alternative to a class system where a race like the Daemons would be considered better than humans. The Night Ravens counts humans and Beastfolk, Barbarosa, among its ranks. Vivian goes down to the Burning Realm to meet with Tiggy and learn about her research. When players start to get a chance to face different creatures in the world, you’ll have a chance to start recruiting people who started out as enemy monsters. It doesn’t matter what species someone belongs to, so long as they want to try and make the world a better and more united place in The Alliance Alive.
Climate change is the other big issue in The Alliance Alive. In the world humans and Beastfolk inhabit, Daemons instituted a Dark Current that separated the land into different regions. Think of it as an extreme reaction to halt the forces of Chaos. Each district is defined by the extreme weather conditions caused by the barrier, and people suffer as a result. Rain Realm is constantly being drenched. Burning Realm is filled with lava and volcanoes. Snow Realm is a sub-zero domain. I mean, the whole reason Azura ends up in quite a bit of trouble is because she had heard legends about the sky having once been blue, and she convinced Galil to help her break into a museum where she could see a picture of a “normal” sky. To compare, in our own world we’re seeing temperatures rise in different areas and more extreme storms hitting.
As people near the end game, everyone begins to realize that the changed climate isn’t going to just stop being a problem once The Alliance does its job and the world is united. People begin to realize that coming together to find solutions and overcoming differences will be the only way to prevent even more devastation. One of the realms is even in danger of just… collapsing completely as a result of that climate change. (Think of it as being the in-game equivalent of Greenland’s massive ice melts.) While there isn’t as “quick” of a fix in-game as the recruiting process that can bring people of all different species together, we do have this sense of working toward a better end.
The Alliance Alive is a fantasy RPG, but it is one that can be quite topical. Climate change and racism remain major topics in our own world that we need to work to resolve. This game gives us a chance to think critically about these topics in a new way.
The Alliance Alive is available for the Nintendo 3DS, while The Alliance Alive HD Remastered is available for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.