The lack of connection with characters and the unbalanced gameplay keep this RPG from being a standout title for anyone but the most dedicated adventure fans. Live A Live feels like a game that's been captured and frozen in time, from its turn-based gameplay to its retro visuals. Its clever twist lies in its multiple-plot structure, which not only presents unique characters, but manages to provide different gameplay themes for each tale. One story is presented like a fighting game, another leans into a stealth action title, and a third is closer to a western. The variety in play makes checking out each story engaging, but this is where some of the issues pop up. Each story is incredibly brief, running anywhere from a few hours to half an hour or so at the shortest. Unfortunately, while you're exposed to a lot of game concepts and characters, you never have enough time to build a connection with or care about any of them or their stories, which also weakens the interest in uncovering the overall plot.
Even worse, the limited amount of time spent with each character makes the combat unbalanced. Players only need to fight a certain number of times in each story to be strong enough to complete their quest, but this makes them wildly underpowered to complete the final chapter. In fact, this makes the amount of time that you have to dedicate to strengthening your characters for the final chapter somewhat haphazard: You're not entirely sure if some are more effective than others, and it feels like a lot of story padding. Couple this with random fights that are over in the blink of an eye, and some that are complex struggles, and the leveling system just feels arbitrary. At least the tactical nature of the combat is good. Players can determine if enemies are vulnerable or resistant to strikes, and can plan the best way to attack targets, as long as they're possibly willing to take a hit for the perfect strike. Overall, Live A Live promises a unique era-spanning adventure, but unless you're a classic RPG fan willing to put up with frustration, or you connect with the tactical strategy in the title, you may want to explore a different saga altogether.