Across Age 2 has a lot to live up to. Its predecessor is one of iOS’s earliest action-RPG success stories. Despite a shaky start upon its 2010 release, subsequent updates and expansions—in the form of Across Age DX—improved the original’s controls and added an entirely new dungeon to the 10-hour+ adventure. Its combination of character-switching, time-traveling, and 16-bit-era charm formed the basis for a series that would pride itself on nearly non-stop action interrupted only by the occasional switch puzzle or drunken pirate quest.
All of these features have returned to duty in Across Age 2, along with a number of upgrades that improve upon even Across Age DX. The story is richer and less cut-and-paste “collect the items and stop the bad guy” linear; characters are deeper and not limited to Ceska, Ales, or one-off caricatures; and gameplay has been expanded through additional items, puzzles, and strategies. While these enhancements technically make Across Age 2 the best entry in the series, they are minor changes in a game that relies heavily on its predecessor’s features, too intimidated by its success to fall far from the tree. The result feels more like Across Age DX2 rather than a brand new game in an expanding series.
The story of Across Age 2 picks up immediately after the end of the original: Prince Ales and Mage Ceska have thwarted Count Agrean and altered the course of time to save the future. Because they changed history itself, no one remembers their heroic deeds save the two of them, and life returns to a peaceful normal. Meanwhile, 25 years into the future, an evil king and queen have taken over Ales’s kingdom, openly killing subjects who defy them. Lily, a member of the rebellion against the despotic rulers, uses the power of Across Age to travel to Ales’s and Ceska’s present, intending to kill the monarchs before they come to power. She runs into our newly minted heroes and the three set out to save the future once again.
While the monarchs could easily have become the next Count Agrean, Across Age 2 utilizes a bait-and-switch technique that makes most dungeons and dangers feel of the utmost importance. Instead of traveling around in search of clocks to prepare for the impending final battle, there are multiple “final battles” and big bosses throughout the journey, and the true danger to the world is often yet to be revealed. This is a popular tactic in Super Nintendo-era RPGs like Final Fantasy VI—which requires a cataclysmic event to reveal the true big baddie—and it keeps Across Age 2 exciting and surprising. Read more »