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Thursday, May 11, 2023


The debut game of Matrix Software, a company that would later work on remakes and side-games in  several prominent franchises like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Professor Layton, and would produce a few hits of their own.  Alundra was a modestly successful "Zelda-Like" on the Playstation, putting a heavy focus on puzzles and personal interactions with a village of NPCs who are attacked in their dreams by demons.  Alundra himself has the ability to enter their dreams and vanquish these demons, saving them from their fates, and uncover the truth of what's really happening on the island.  It also carries a rather dark and heavy mood overall, which was a pretty stark contrast compared to the Zelda games but it became a hallmark of the Playstation in its early days.  This is aided in no small part by some talented sprite work, smooth animation and strong, moody music from Kohei Tanaka; mostly known for anime soundtracks but also for games like Just Breed, Sakura Wars and the two Gravity Rush games.  It's not quite as well-refined as a good Zelda, though - dungeon puzzles often aren't intuitive (and indeed, there were many times I wasn't aware there was even supposed to be a puzzle in a room until I checked a guide), combat is somewhat cumbersome and tends to drag since every enemy soaks up tons of hits before dying, and treasures earned from solving puzzles often just reward more healing items, which you can only carry a limited supply of anyway (often just one of each), so if you're not using them up almost constantly it can be a chore to backtrack and retrieve them later.  It also only had a few months to shine before Ocarina of Time hit the scene, setting a high standard for not just future Zelda games, but 3D action-adventure titles in general.  Matrix Software and Contrail tried to compete with a 3D adventure of their own called "Alundra 2" the following year, but its clunky controls, disconnected storyline and lackluster presentation spelled the end of the series.

Developer: Matrix Software
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment, Working Designs, Psygnosis
Released: 1997, 1998, 2007
Platforms: Playstation, Playstation Network