Tactics Ogre: Reborn REVIEW (PS5)
''A Tactical Advantage''
Genre: Strategy RPG
Release Date: Nov 11th,2022
Platforms: Nintendo Switch/PC/PS4/PS5
*Review copy provided to me by Square-Enix*
Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a strategy RPG that is developed and published by Square-Enix. Being based off the 2010 release, Reborn and Square-Enix aim to improve on everything from graphics, sound and game design. But do they succeed in bringing back and upgrading the classic formula? or do they happen to fall short? only one way to find out, so lets go!
The Valerian Isles, jewels of the Obero Sea. Long a center of naval commerce, the people of the isles struggled throughout history for dominion over her shores. Finally there rose a man to put an end to this conflict: Dorgalua Oberyth. But history would know him as the "Dynast-King." King Dorgalua.
Square-Enix has had quite the year so far with titles like Diofield Chronicles, Harvestella, Valkyrie Elysium, Triangle Strategy and even upcoming games like Dragon Quest Treasures and Crisis Core: FF7 Reunion. You get it, Square-Enix has been on a complete tear and show no signs of stopping for the rest of the year. But while all those titles were critically and overall a success in the eyes of gamers, there were a few duds here and there like Babylon's Fall. So what does ANY of this have to with Tactics Ogre Reborn? well a lot actually because it might help us determine which side of the yard this title will be playing on - The green side with games like Harvestella or the weed and snake filled yard like Babylon's Fall. Thankfully I can say this title, for the most part, lands on green grass, the same green grass that made you itch yourself to death after you've been rolling around sweating in it for hours. Seriously, it made me scratch myself to near death as a kid, surprised I don't have scars all over till this day. But were WAY off topic here, we need to get our focus back and actually talk about the title we are here for.
The game opens up with orphans Denam, his sister Catiua and their best friend Vyce. They're angry and plotting for a way to get revenge after being oppressed and made borderline slaves by the realms of the Bakram and the Galgastani. Even though their man power might be small in comparison to the invading kingdom, they forge a plan to kill the leader of the Dark Knight's named Lanselot. But with a case like the movie Parent Trap, they soon realize the man they're looking for, while sharing the same name, is an entirely different person altogether.. wait what? much like Keanu proclaims, I too said out loud, ''Woah''. After trying to kill an innocent man, Lanselot and his crew agree to lend you a helping hand to venture to where your friend Duke is being held and free him from enemy clutches. Honestly he's a better person than I am, I would've killed these kids with haste for trying to ambush me like that, but.. then again the story would've been a tad bit short, so I guess it works out.
As mentioned before, Tactics Ogre is a strategy RPG that operates on a grid system with each team, your own crew or enemy forces getting a set amount of turns to move across the map via designated squares. All while of course using the same grid system to use your character abilities to cast healing, elemental spells, melee attacks, use items, etc. Each player gets one chance to move to a verified block indicated by a blue marker, with red marker indicating how far your arrows can fly or how far your magic will reach your opponent, once your turn is over, the game then switches to the enemy for their shot at taking the advantage. If you're confused, just think of the old american wars or the movie The Patriot where everyone stands in a line to get shot at. Stupid, right? definitely, but here? its really fun and each match you partake in amounts to intense battles that can run you anywhere from ten minutes to thirty minutes, depending on your approach to how you battle. I am very slow battler, so most of my matches take 20 minutes bare minimum, I'm basically a Sloth, just like in the funny meme video of a Sloth being carried across the road to ''I believe I can fly'', so to will you have to do that with me to get me out of the battle field, should you get too annoyed watching me take forever. But again, were way off topic. If you're familiar with the TellTale Walking Dead games, then there's also a similar mechanic here, well in a sense, with the game giving you varied choices and based off whatever choice you make, the story will break off into an entirely new direction, one you may like or one you may hate, depending on how you view the situation in game. Its a game on its surface that should be as plain as day obvious as not sticking your dang hand on a hot stove, but instead goes a different route and chooses to subvert expectations and constantly keeps you emotionally invested due to your choices and the plight each character faces and deals with personally.
The further you yourself progress into the game, so to will your job classes and even skills you acquire, which at the start of your game early on, you're only in control of just your character, but after the games introduction and gaining new allies, you will of course gain other party members to control and be able to take part in training sessions in towns. Doing these training sessions outside the main stories battles can be key to keeping your characters leveled up enough to face future threats and to gain must needed skills before you attempt harder skirmishes against storyline based baddies. Further leveling up your characters and techniques will also allow you to do like any other RPG on the market and gain new gear either as rewards for battle or via shops that can raise your resistances, physical attacking, defense, passive abilities and allow you to further increase your skill with your favorite weapon, should you use one more than the other. As stated earlier, battles can be a rather grind, slow or even a tiny bit mundane process - this will either excite you or intrigue you if you're someone like me who grew up on titles like Final Fantasy Tactics, or bore you if you're into more fast paced action RPG's. This becomes most evident in the perma-death function in which when one of your player units takes a fall and drops down to zero HP, you have two choices, kill the enemy as fast as you can or revive them before your allotted time limit runs out, causing this character to be just like I said, perma-deathed. The characters usually in the most danger of falling to this feature are your magic wielders and mages, so always send your strongest characters forward, while keeping mages far enough from the overall battle, but just at enough space to be able to attack or cast a healing spell just in case. Strategy is key and sometimes slower based methodical thinking is a must. Regardless of how you feel about it.
The great thing about this title in comparison to the original in which you had to micro-manage literally EVERYTHING piece by piece with TP, MP and you SP gained from battling enemies in order to use basic equipment or even learning new abilities, but here in Reborn, its made much less cumbersome. For an example, you can turn to a game like SaGa Frontier Remastered where everything was made easier and more accessible over the original, so to does Reborn follow that tradition by negating both TP and SP and putting everything into one box with leveling up replacing those two features in order to gain more skills, abilities and making it easier for you to decide on when to switch roles for major battles. Which makes it easier without spending two hours or more grinding out specific stats just to have a chance against one enemy type or another. It may seem like it cheapens the experience, sure, but do you really wanna spend 6 hours to get ready for one battle? I think not, you could literally watch one of the Lord Of The Rings directors cuts in that time frame, which I would rather do than grind grind grind. Well.. that or watch Muppets Christmas Carol on repeat 3-4 times in a row, I love me some silly Rizzo. But that's pretty off topic, it's not Christmas time just yet. Because of the new balancing made to the game, random encounters are no longer a thing and the previously stated training levels also do not offer permadeath should you die during them, making it easier than ever for older players and new players to this franchise to be able to hop in and play and enjoy the RPG experience this title offers you from beat to beat. At this point with all the upgrades from the previous release, were starting to sound awful lot like Sheamus from WWE with all these upgraded features adding nothing but BANGER AFTER BANGER AFTER BANGER.
Honestly all jokes aside, the ease of comfortability is probably the most gratifying aspect of this game because most strategy based RPG's are relentless and don't really offer every player a fair shake. Usually to get into games of the this nature, you'd have to take part in knowing the ins and outs of games like Final Fantasy Tactics, X-Com, Fire Emblem, Valkyria, Shining Force - but due to the gameplay changes I mentioned, you do not have to have any experience whatsoever with any strategy RPG's or even turned based ones like Pokemon, and that makes your 20+ hour journey a rather brisk one. Does this mean the game is super over the top easy? not necessarily, but its definitely not as hard to overcome as the title was previously before changes were made, especially the ''different route'' aspect of this game. Remember how I stated earlier that your choices equal an outcome? Not ribbing ya, its true, no Pinnochio, although I do wish I had a little green cricket for a conscience be my guide because some things I do in these games are pretty mind boggling. But in regards to this titles ''routes'', due to your choices in your first playthrough, I encourage you to play again and make different decisions in order to see every path you can take because the story is engaging enough to make you WANT to do multiple playthroughs without it feeling like an outright mundane and polarizing experience. Trust me, you will not regret sinking your teeth into this game further.
At the end of the day, Tactics Ogre: Reborn stays true to what made the original so fascinating and addicting to play, while also adding in great additions like easier leveling, better skill management and more ease of play. Sure its not perfect, obviously, with some story arcs seeming a bit far fetched or lingering on too long and some of the difficulty spikes being a little to high towards mid game, but with the characters developing alongside each other with great voicing, choices that feel like they matter or have an impact on the people and towns around you, amazing soundtrack and an addicting game play that is further enhanced to bring in more players into this franchise - all of this makes Tactics Ogre: Reborn an absolute must play for fans of not only strategy RPG's, but for RPG's in general. So with all that having been said, verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW.