Live A Live is an eclectic gem of a JRPG that splits its initial story across seven chapters, each set in a different time period, while shaking up core elements of the gameplay structure. It’s a big part of what makes this game so unique, as each chapter feels like its own micro-game that stands on its own.

Related: Live A Live: Best Story Order

With that said, not every chapter in Live A Live is created equally. While some excel at delivering a complete and memorable experience in a short timeframe, others struggle under the weight of their own experimentation.Warning: Contains some minor spoilers for Live A Live chapter storylines



7 Twilight Of Edo Japan

Three cavemen and a gorilla in a cave in Live A Live.

What should have been one of the strongest chapters in the game ends up feeling too obtuse and ambitious for its own good. Twilight of Edo Japan puts you in the shoes of the ninja Oboromaru as he attempts to rescue a politician from an enemy stronghold.

While you can play through this chapter normally, you are strongly encouraged to either take an aggressive approach by killing every foe, or attempt a pacifist run by sneaking past any dangers. Unfortunately, both play styles are tedious, as the map is confusing to navigate, the stealth mechanics are half-baked, and the overall pacing is sluggish. Thankfully, things get much better.

6 Present Day

The main character of the Present Day chapter in a barren wasteland with red sky.

This chapter puts you in control of Masaru as he battles through a gauntlet of the world’s strongest champions to become the ultimate fighter. The fighting game-style structure is certainly neat, and the mechanic of learning your foes’ abilities during the boss fights adds a layer of complexity to the mix.

However, the chapter’s short length and lack of gameplay diversity does hold it back from reaching greater heights. The boss fights are a fun challenge, but it’s hard to connect with the main protagonist’s motivation when so little time is dedicated to getting to know them as character.

5 Prehistory

Three cavemen and a gorilla in a cave in Live A Live.

This quirky chapter is Live A Live’s most light-hearted and is a refreshing tonal shift compared to some of the more serious stories this game has to tell. Set during prehistoric times, all the dialogue in this chapter is told through emoticons and physical expressions.

The gameplay is fun, if a bit repetitive. The crafting system has a lot of potential, but ultimately feels underutilized. The difficulty also feels unbalanced, with some enemies packing way more of a punch than others.

4 The Near Future

Character using telekinesis in Live A Live.

There is a lot going on in this chapter. An orphaned child with telekinesis powers, a corrupt government attempting to summon an ancient evil spirit, a cute robot companion, and a hidden mech waiting to be awakened. The Near Future goes big with its story, and it mostly pays off.

Related: Octopath Traveler Vs. Live A Live: Which Game Is Better?

You have to admire the ambition of this chapter, and it’s easy to get swept up in its epic storytelling, catchy music, and anime-style melodrama. Its scope would be better suited to a ten-hour runtime instead of three, but there’s still plenty to enjoy here.

3 Imperial China

Characters facing off in a well decorated room in Imperial China chapter.

If it wasn’t for the tedious boss rush that closes out this chapter, Imperial China could be Live A Live’s best offering. What makes this chapter so strong is its emotional core. Shifu is a martial arts expert nearing the end of his life, so he finds three unlikely disciples to inherit his teachings and preserve his legacy.

Sadly, only one of these three students will still be alive by the end of the chapter. And deciding which one of them lives is entirely up to you and who you dedicate the most training to. This difficult choice between who lives and who dies elevates this story as an emotional high point in the game.

2 The Wild West

Cowboys stand off outside a saloon in Wild West chapter.

Everybody loves a good western, and Live A Live’s take on this classic genre does not disappoint. All the classic tropes are here. A remote town under siege, a lone rider searching for their path, and a rivalry that (temporarily) gets put on hold for the greater good. All wrapped up in visuals and music that scream wild west.

Related: Live A Live: Wild West – How To Perfectly Defend The Town

The gameplay takes an interesting diversion from the norm by making you prepare the town for an enemy charge all in the space of a single night. The time limit isn’t the strictest, but you still need to use your time wisely to ensure the enemy gets knocked down a few pegs by the time dawn arrives.

1 The Distant Future

Cube in space station in Live A Live.

It’s interesting that the best chapter in Live A Live is the one with hardly any combat. Outside the final boss fight and an optional side quest, this chapter is entirely devoid of any fights. It instead focuses on atmosphere, storytelling, and characters, and it makes for one of the most memorable two-hour slices of gameplay.

Every side character on the spaceship Cogito Ergo Sum feels like a layered human, and it’s fascinating to watch their darker sides rise to the surface once things start to go wrong. At the heart of this chapter is Cube, the little maintenance robot who only cares about doing the right thing, even while everything is crumbling around them. Tense, heart-felt, and entirely self-contained, The Distant Future is Live A Live at its very best.

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