The Alchemist Code is a strategic RPG released by Gumi in 2016 in Japan, and released globally in November 2017.
The Alchemist Code’s main gameplay is best compared to Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea. Characters in a team of up to seven are spread out on a battlefield dissected by a grid. Your characters take turns attacking using either a basic attack that can be at a distance or close up or skills which have various effects, both positive and negative. Movement is done along the grid in turns like a chessboard and terrain height can obscure targets that would originally be targetable. There is also a type affinity system, with six types being effective against each other in various circumstances.
Characters have typical RPG statistics, including levels and a job system. Characters have up to three jobs that can be unlocked through their “Limit Break” system, which increases a character’s maximum level. Jobs change your character’s looks and skills. Characters also have a rarity ranking that goes up to five stars, which increases their maximum level.
Quests are available as a story mode that also delivers a way for your team to acquire loot. Currency, tickets, and exclusive loot are available through Events, which function like quests but are time restricted. Items can also be crafted through blueprints.
There isn’t anything that stands out about TAC. The battle system is something you’ve seen before, as well as type affinity, levels, and jobs. All of the systems will feel familiar to SRPG fans. Almost too familiar.
Premium currency is called Gems. Gems are used to restore stamina or purchase items. It’s also used to summon characters and equipment. Unlike other gacha games, TAC allows you to gain equipment and “Limit Break” items in their summons. These level up items, called Soul Shards, are specific to each character and you can obtain Soul Shards for characters you don’t even have. One summon costs 250, but you can do ten for 2500. Special summon banners are available that allow you to summon 30 for 4500 and reward you with a rare character for doing so. Gems are typically rewarded in sets of 10. 50 Gems cost $0.99.
Zeni is the secondary currency used the most. You can purchase equipment, level up items and more from one of the three shops. Multi Coins and Arena Coins, special currencies gained through their multiplayer functionality, are used to also purchase powerful items. Soul Coins are also used to buy Soul Shards and come from converting a maximum level character. Tickets are also found throughout the game that can reward specialty characters.
There are just a few too many currencies to keep track of in TAC. Value for summons per dollar is low, and the number of things to keep track of involving that currency, including valuing shop purchases against summons and trying to get something specific in the diluted summon pool, makes it hard to recommend.
There is no franchise backing up TAC. For better or worse, this game has a wholly original art and setting. Mimicking the feel of the gameplay, one word I would use to describe the art style is “familiar”. The characters, menus, and even color palette feel similar to other mobile games.
Art is well done and easy on the eyes. There is clearly a lot of craft put into the lush landscapes and cute 3D models. Players will find the menu not too convoluted, and the Japanese voice acting is not imposing. Not having an option to change it or turn it off is unfortunate.
Overall, TAC is a game that’ll draw you in only if it stands out to you. The visual novel storytelling coupled with the game’s art style and gameplay is for a niche audience. Outside of this demographic, there isn’t much to it.
Login bonuses are common in TAC. Logging in each day will reward you right off the bat with an item. Premium currency is one of them at least half of the time. Daily missions are also available and plentiful. Replenishing your stamina, or AP is easy to do through watching ads.
Japan has been playing TAC since early 2016 under the name For Whom the Alchemist Exists. There have been crossovers with series such as Fate and Final Fantasy in the Japanese release thanks to the support the game has gotten from its developer, Gumi. They are also the developers of Brave Frontier and Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius.
Given their proven track record and existing future content, this game has potential to be supported for a long while.
TAC is a game that is a proven success in Asian countries. Now that it's a global release I have a hard time recommending it compared to other anime-inspired mobile RPGs. There is plenty of content to be had, and art is well done. But it feels unoriginal.