The game's protagonist is a young man named Alundra, who learns that he has the power to enter people's dreams. He is shipwrecked on an island, near the village of Inoa, where locals have been suffering from recurring nightmares that sometimes cause death. With his dream walking ability, Alundra proceeds to try to help the locals. The narrative becomes gradually darker and more twisted as the game progresses, dealing with mature themes such as death, clinical depression, fate, religion, and the essence of human existence.
The gameplay involves extensive exploration of the island and various dungeons, with an emphasis on challenging puzzle solving, real-time action combat, and platforming, as well as interaction with non-player characters in the village of Inoa. The main gameplay innovation is a dream walking mechanic, where Alundra can enter people's dreams, with each of the dream levels having its own unique twist based upon the dreamer's personality and traits.
Upon release, Alundra earned critical acclaim as well as some initial commercial success. It was praised for its well-written story and characterization, smooth game mechanics and platforming, challenging gameplay and puzzles, and expansive overworld exploration. A sequel entitled Alundra 2, which has very little in common with the original Alundra, was released in 1999.
The gameplay style is top-down action-adventure, with a heavy emphasis on puzzle solving. A range of terrain and surfaces affect the player character, from sand, which causes the player character to move more slowly, to lava, which damages the player character. Upgrades throughout the game can help the player overcome many of these obstacles, encouraging exploration.
Alundra, the silent protagonist and player character, is an elf from the clan of Elna, the Dreamwalkers. He set out for a place called Inoa because of a recurring dream in which a mysterious figure who calls Alundra "Releaser" tells him that he must save the villagers from the evil of Melzas. The ship carrying Alundra is caught in a storm and is broken in half, leaving most of the crew dead and Alundra drifting unconscious.
Alundra is next seen washed ashore to an unknown beach, where a man named Jess finds and rescues him. Jess carries Alundra to his house at the village of Inoa and lets him sleep in his guest room. In the village, Alundra discovers he is a Dreamwalker, which means he has an ability to enter other peoples' dreams, and helps the villagers get rid of the nightmares that have been possessing them. Since Alundra's arrival, bad things begin to happen in the village, with various villagers being murdered in their dreams, which leaves them dead outside of their dreams as well. Some of the villagers eventually start blaming Alundra for what is happening.
Another dreamwalker, Meia, from the clan Elna arrives to the city and helps Alundra fight off the nightmares of the villagers. Later in the game, it is revealed that the demon, Melzas, has disguised himself as a god, and he is the source of all the nightmares of the village. His goal is to make the villagers pray for their god, and thus make Melzas himself gain power from their prayers. Ronan, the priest of the village, was also on the side of Melzas and helped him to deceive the villagers, and keep them praying for Melzas, the false god. Once Alundra discovers the truth, he gathers the information and items needed to access Melzas' palace to defeat the demon. After Melzas is destroyed, Alundra and Meia bid farewell to the villagers and depart together, before going their separate ways.
- Alundra, the protagonist and player character, is an elf from the clan of Elna, the Dreamwalkers. He comes to Inoa because of a recurring dream in which a mysterious figure who calls Alundra "Releaser" tells him that he must save the villagers from the evil of Melzas. His ship is caught in a storm and he is later found washed ashore unconscious. After arriving, he starts being blamed by the townsfolk for all of the terrible happenings that occur. Alundra is a silent protagonist.
- Meia is also part of the clan of Elna. She is also seeking to destroy Melzas. She has a troubled past that is eventually revealed during the course of the game.
- Melzas is an ancient and powerful demon. Though he was imprisoned long ago by the Guardians of the Seal, he has returned and is terrorizing the villagers of Inoa. He is the primary villain of the storyline.
- Ronan is the priest of the village's church, the Sanctuary. From Alundra's first arrival in Inoa, Ronan constantly acts to turn the villagers against him due to his hidden agenda.
- Zazan is the leader of a clan of white monkey-like creatures known as the Murgg. He is being commanded by Melzas to destroy Inoa and steal the seven crests.
- Zorgia is a powerful demon and a servant of Melzas. He is vicious, cruel, sadistic, and utterly loyal to his master.
- Jess is the blacksmith in Inoa. After Alundra's ship is swept ashore and destroyed in a storm, Jess finds the unconscious Alundra and takes care of him for as long as he remains in Inoa. He is good-natured and always trusts Alundra, even when others do not.
- Septimus is a scholar and a close friend of Alundra. He travelled to Inoa to help lift the curse that has afflicted it, but has met with little success. He helps Alundra discover many ancient and forgotten secrets of the world and his power of dreamwalking.
- Cephas is the gravekeeper of Inoa Village, and right from meeting him, it is obvious that he knows a lot more than he is letting on about the goings on in both the village and Torla as a whole.
- Sybill has the ability to dream only when she's awake. Her dreams seem to eerily portend future events with uncanny accuracy.
- Yustel, as one of the oldest residents of Inoa, has watched the village's descent into darkness with a sense of helplessness. For a small fee, she uses her crystal ball to give advice to anyone wise enough to inquire of her. For a further pittance, she tells those who asks her where their destiny lies.
- Elene, whose mother left and father turned alcoholic. She spends much of her time in a multiple personality infested dream world.
- Gustav is Elene's father. He has a drinking problem and when spoken to, commonly hiccups a lot. He later tells Alundra that his daughter, Elene, is trapped in a nightmare and asks him to rescue her.
- Kline, despite his stern appearance, is a kind and likeable man. Not only is he known as the best fisherman in the village, but he is also known for his pinpoint accuracy as an archer. He is regarded by many of the villagers as their best defender against the Murgg.
- Bonaire is a laid-back, feel-good kind of lad. Because of his seeming lack of interest in the fairer sex, his aging father, Phineas, is losing hope of seeing his son married.
- Nadia, who has an interest in Bonaire. Despite Myra's pleas for her to get involved with any other person, she does not give up on her one true love. Nadia is also cursed by making objects explode whenever she falls asleep, causing her to become an insomniac by choice.
- Beaumont is the village mayor, and has been busy trying to keep both the villagers and his family happy. His wife Thyea, is humble and intelligent. His son, Talis, on the other hand, is an arrogant little brat.
- Meade and his wife Rumi move to Inoa from the capital city. They live in the quiet little village with Meade's father, Wendell, and their twin sons Bergus and Nestus, who are almost exact opposites. Bergus tends to be a loud and brash kid, while Nestus tends to be quiet and well-behaved.
- Lutas and his wife Fein are friendly and easy-going. Fein is proud of her husband's sense of justice. Lutas has even been known to draw arms and fight when he perceives that an injustice has been done to another.
- Naomi owns a small store in Inoa where villagers can buy healing herbs and other special items. Her husband Yuri spends most of his time roaming the land in search of herbs.
- Yuri is Naomi's husband. He spends most of his time roaming the lands in search of herbs for his wife, Naomi, to sell in her store.
- Giles became extremely religious when he lost both of his parents in a freak gardening accident. He now works very closely with Chancellor Ronan in the Sanctuary, and lives with his long-suffering sister, Kisha. He is critical of Alundra some time after the Dreamwalker's arrival into the village.
Alundra is considered a spiritual sequel to Climax Entertainment's Landstalker on the Sega Genesis, particularly because several members of the game's programming and design team had worked on Landstalker.
|Ultra Game Players||9/10|
|Electronic Gaming Monthly||Role-Playing Game of the Year (Runner-Up), |
Game of the Month
|GamePro||Best Role-Playing Game (2nd Place)|
|Metacritic||#6 Best Critic Reviewed PS1 Game of 1997|
The game had sold 143,114 copies in Japan by the end of 1997. Following its North American release, Working Designs sold over 100,000 copies of the game in North America within a single month in early 1998.
Alundra was well received by critics upon release. It has a score of 86 out of 100 at Metacritic based on 9 reviews, making it the sixth highest-rated PlayStation title of 1997, and held an 84% at GameRankings based on 13 reviews at the time of the site's closure in 2019. Critics hailed the game for its deep and often maddening challenge, particularly the puzzles, and said that while it is heavily derivative of The Legend of Zelda series and Landstalker, it has enough original elements to stand on its own. Next Generation stated that "Working Designs made a smart decision importing Alundra, and any gamer looking for a unique challenge is guaranteed to appreciate it." Jay Boor wrote in IGN, "Never have I been so tested and challenged since the old Genesis adventure title, LandStalker. And Climax has made Alundra twice as hard, twice as challenging, and twice as good as its LandStalker counterpart."
The music was applauded for its strong composition and appropriateness for the tone of the game. GamePro commented that "the game's heroic battle music will make you feel good about being the fighting savior of tormented sleepy souls." Reviewers for Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) and GameSpot also praised the translation as being noticeably more restrained that Working Designs' earlier projects, in which the humor was often overdone to the point where it compromised the mood. GameSpot's Chris Johnston said that "For those who have bagged on WD for its past liberties with American humor, there is little to complain about here. Alundra is maturely written and has a tone and feel that fits the game to a T."
The one significantly criticized element of the game was the graphics. Both Next Generation and GamePro remarked that Alundra looks too much like a "16-bit" game, with GamePro giving it a 4.5 out of 5 for sound, control, and fun factor but a 3.5 out of 5 for graphics. GameSpot found that it is sometimes difficult to judge height and depth, forcing the player to proceed by trial and error. EGM's Sushi-X said the color palette is too dominated by "bland greens and tans", though he and the other three members of the review team were overall very impressed with the game's challenging dungeons and puzzles, giving it their "Game on the Month" award.
In 2009, Destructoid's Conrad Zimmerman described Alundra as a "fresh and innovative" game and "one of the finest examples of action/RPG gaming." He particularly praised it for featuring "a plot the likes of which I had never seen before in the genre," the strong "writing and characterizations," and the "clever and challenging puzzles."
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