It's been a long time since I sat down with a gacha game the way I have over the last couple of weeks. My disdain for the genre has always been palpable – I've never been a fan of the way that these games exploit players and entice them to offer their time and money with deceptive ads and shady gameplay mechanics. That being said, a handful of gems under this umbrella have garnered my attention. Genshin Impact made quite the impact on me earlier this year, but I put it down quickly since it hardly compared to the other games I was playing at the time. I remember Fire Emblem Heroes fondly, and seeing as it basically served as my introduction to the franchise, it apparently struck the right chords. Brave Frontier and Puzzle and Dragons were uniquely brilliant, with fantastic spritework, gameplay, and progression systems. All these titles came to mind as my “gold standard” for gacha games, and I'm sad to say that despite everything that Another Eden got right, it absolutely missed the mark and fails to hold a candle to its peers.
But before I get into how Another Eden can't stand up, I'm going to point out some of the ways it actually stands out. Character designs, of course, make up a large part of Another Eden's appeal, which is exactly what you'd expect from a gacha game. I found them to be consistently unique and varied, with no collectible character looking too similar to another (with the exception of some characters that just seem to be re-skins). That being said, the most notable detail of Another Eden's development has to be the involvement of some Square Enix royalty in its creation. From the icon that is Chrono Trigger comes musical composer Yasunori Mitsuda and scenario writer Masato Kato – two artists I have huge respect for. And while their pedigree speaks for itself, it's clear that this is far from their best work. Neither the writing nor the music in Another Eden is necessarily bad, but they're definitely plagued with inconsistency. The music is inoffensive – it doesn't stand out most of the time, but definitely hit the right vibes during important moments in the plot. The writing, on the other hand, is more wildly varied. Character dialogue is usually a snooze-fest, and Another Eden doesn't hold back on throwing a lot of it at you. While there are a handful of memorable side-quest storylines and plot developments, the things characters actually say to one another are remarkably dull. Through the entire run-time of the game, I found myself praying that I would somehow come across a hidden skip button (spoiler alert: there isn't one). I don't usually have a problem with this in most gacha games, but the plot of Another Eden is clearly pitched as front and center of its appeal. I think this choice was a mistake right from the start. Not only is the writing at a level that fails to reflect this focus, but the mobile medium the game was developed for doesn't really lend itself to the prolonged dialogue or cinematic set-pieces Another Eden is trying to pull off.
The gameplay here is uniquely abhorrent, though. It's about as mindless as you can get in a turn-based mobile game. Characters have different types of weapons they are able to use and learn new moves as they level up and spend ability points, but nothing seems quite as effective as throwing out your most powerful attacks until you're low on MP and then placing tired units on standby to recuperate. The aesthetics of combat are similarly disappointing. Visually, you'll be playing with chibi sprites of the characters in your party, so say goodbye to the more detailed (and aesthetic) artwork. It's a shame that they didn't even use any cut-ins of the more refined artwork during special attacks. Combat is a nightmare audibly as well. The battle music gets old quickly when grinding and the voice acting is absolutely abysmal. Each character has a couple of catchphrases they'll shout when opening the battle or on their turn, which tend to grate on the ears and get old quick. In light of all this criticism, some of its most attractive features are arguably the ones that set it apart from other gacha games: That it has a respectable story. That it doesn't utilize any “energy” systems. That its draw rates aren't absolute garbage. And I must say if I were looking at it as a mobile game, where its competition is primarily games similar to it, these positives would hold up. But since I'm reviewing this game on Steam, I'm not going to assess it amongst other gacha games, but instead against all games – an arena in which it hardly holds up. So if all you're looking for in this is a mobile game with a decent plot to throw a lot of time into, then look no further than Another Eden. But in my opinion, because of its underwhelming combat, dull and unskippable dialogue, and some headache-inducing features, this game's presence on Steam is indefensible.