SNES-style RPGs have been making a welcome comeback these last few years with a boatload of lovingly-made throwback experiences. Adding fuel to the fire is the recently released Alterium Shift, which channels Octopath Traveler’s retro vibes with a heavy dose of fresh new ideas itself.
Alterium Shift scratches the itch that might be left over from other great throwback RPGs such as Octopath Traveler since the game offers three separate protagonists to follow, each with their own unique abilities that are useful in both the turn-based battles and when exploring the beautiful pixelated world. Our heroes include the warrior Pyra, the archer Atlas, and the mage Sage. Alterium Shift also boasts a branching storyline, so your choice of playable protagonist probably affects the game’s trajectory.
Alterium Shift’s most striking feature is undoubtedly the gorgeous art style, though. The game borrows Octopath’s 2.5D perspective, as our two-dimensional characters pop up out of the more three-dimensional world like a storybook. Everything in the game strives for nostalgia, including the lovely low-poly monsters and the endearingly blocky menus.
The game’s turn-based combat also borrows a page out of the classic RPG playbook since a turn-order display is ripped straight from the likes of Grandia, Final Fantasy X, or Blue Dragon. Exploiting an enemy’s elemental weakness gives you an extra edge in tough battles, too, adding some more strategy to combat.
Alterium Shift is available in early access on Steam for £17/$20, though it’s currently 20% off. The developers say the game is expected to leave early access in late 2023 or possibly early 2024, although the game’s “currently about 50% complete.” The finished version of Alterium Shift will have a bunch of improvements such as “configurable user controls, walkable world maps, a bestiary, additional settings (like CRT effects), battle enhancements, and additional user-friendly features.”
All in all, Alterium Shift is shaping up to be the next great old-school love letter. Check out more upcoming indie games to keep an eye on other hidden gems.