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Alcahest is an action-adventure game for the Super Famicom, developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Square. The game was released in 1993 in Japan and has never been released in other markets.

The game features a score counter that was given the misleading name "experience". Because of that, it is often mistaken for a role-playing game.

The game uses a password system.

Story

The player controls a young swordsman named Alen who must fight the minions of Alcahest, a demonic being that was sealed away a thousand years ago.

Gameplay

The game features a score counter at the top-left of the screen, called "experience". Because of this misleading name, the game is often considered a role-playing game.

The game consisted of a linear series of stages, each of them is closed off forever once cleared. In each stage, Alen can find an ally and four key items, all of which can will disappear when the stage is cleared. The stages are top-down mazes, where stage-specific key items are required to access the subsequent portion.

There are some similarities with the Zelda games: Alen can charge up his sword and release a spinning slash; he can block attacks with his shield; defeated enemies occasionally drop hearts that replenich Alen's health. Actually, the Zelda games are action-adventure games with role-playing elements, whereas Alcahest lacks any role-playing feature.

Complete lack of role-playing elements

In fact, Alcahest has less role-playing elements than a typical Legend of Zelda game, and the latter are action-adventure games. In particular, here is how Alcahest compares to the main role-playing characteristics:

  1. Permanent upgrades to the character: almost none. The only permanent upgrades are akin to those in the Mega Man X series (pure action games): more health and magic points, and a new magic attack as a prize for defeating the stage boss. In other words, Alcahest features even less skills and customizabilty of the player character than the Zelda games.
  2. Active dialogue with characters: almost none. The vast majority of dialogue occurs during cutscenes, the rest are occasional characters that give clues in the stages. There are not even shops nor the simplest economy.
  3. Freedom of exploration and backtracking: none. Whenever a stage is cleared, the character steps automatically to the next one. Alcahest lacks even the most basic world map (even Super Mario Bros. 3 had world maps, and it is a pure action game). The Zelda games had dungeons interconnected by an overworld and people in towns that you could freely talk to.
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