The following are the Final Fantasy The Ivalice Alliance is one of the most popular sub-series. These games, which were set in the fictional Ivalice land, had a handful of projects. They focused on a more grounded setting and explored the drama of a magical medieval realm’s politics. However, before Ivalice came along, its creator—Yasumi Matsuno—originally worked on another unrelated series called Ogre Battle The setting was shown in an early version. The second installment of this series, Tactics Ogre’s Let Us Cling Together on Super NES, was widely regarded as one the best SRPGs ever created. However it never gained the popularity many expected. Square Enix decided to give the game another chance at a wider audience almost 30 years later with Tactics Ogre Reborn, a remake from their PSP remake that they released about a decade ago. Even though it shows some signs of age, Tactics Ogre Reborn does a wonderful job of cleaning up the SRPG legend and presenting it for a new generation.
The role of Denam is a Walister teen who lives under the rule of the Galgastani. It takes place after the civil war of several decades. Denam is sick of living under oppression and ropes in his best friend and sister to join a resistance to overthrow its ruling regime. Denam’s ability to navigate the political and moral landscape, while remaining true to his original ideals, is put to the test as more allies join the resistance.
Although it’s an engaging and dark story, it can feel a bit dense at the beginning. The greater focus on political squabbling here is welcome, but the lack of introduction to major names and events can make it feel like you’re watching season 4 of Game of Thrones Without any context. You will eventually get the hang of it, but it can be difficult at first to track all the motivations or relationships.
Once you do get into it, there’s plenty of plot to get drawn into, especially given the presence of multiple routes and endings depending on key decisions you have Denam make at certain points in the story. Regardless of what you choose, important characters will die or abandon you, and if you’re ever curious how things might’ve gone if you chose differently, there’s a helpful feature to go back in time to major plot points and play out the other path.
Tactics Ogre’s gameplay is a standard isometric Strategy RPG. You give orders to around 12 warriors to defeat an enemy team. Each character can use a small number of skills, weapons, consumables, magic, attacks, consumables, or other magical items to help them move. If someone dies, you usually have three turns to hustle someone over to them to issue a revive; if they don’t make it in time, the incapacitated unit is dead for good and takes all your hours of hard work and investment with them.
As far as this genre goes, Tactics Ogre is about as simple as the setup gets—none of the relationship shipping of Fire Emblem or character stacking ridiculousness of Disgaea to be seen here—but it clearly has the fundamentals down well. It doesn’t take long before you get a grasp of the basic flow of a typical battle, and there are plenty of interesting variables thrown in to keep every fight feeling interesting.
Terrain types can have different effects on your stats. However, one must also consider elevation when attacking and moving units. If you aim your arrow at an enemy from too high a place, it may result in hitting a wall or worse, an ally standing in the way. There’s also an extensive elemental system at play, wherein every character belongs to an element that’s weak to some attacks and strong against others. Factors such as this mean that sending in your Berserker to clean house isn’t always a viable option, you have to consider how your decisions may have consequences.
Fortunately, Tactics Ogre: Reborn isn’t punitive in how it treats your decision-making skills. There’s a helpful new feature called the Chariot Tarot that allows you to roll back to previous turns if you don’t like the outcome of a choice you made, and doing so will even create a branching timeline so you can return to the initial choice if your redo turned out even worse. Indeed, this Chariot Tarot feels a little broken—Fire Emblem’s Divine Pulse, for example, felt like it couldn’t be used nearly as much as a crutch—but we appreciate how it allows for a much more dynamic kind of difficulty scaling. Those of you who want that old-school challenge can simply not use it, while players who want to maximize their efficiency in a battle can cling to the ‘Golden Path’ they make by continuously finding the best outcome.
Buff Cards are another new feature in this remake. These randomly-spawning collectibles can give you an edge in battle and can be used to boost your stats. Every card boosts a character’s stats and will stay with them for the rest of the battle. Often, you have to go a little out of your way to pick one up, but these cards can completely turn the tide if you’re smart about who you send to grab one and when.
The fact that your enemies can also be buffed by you makes things even more exciting. This adds an element of defense to the game, allowing you to grab cards before your foes have too much power. We found these buff cards a bit annoying at times. Too They are too powerful to be of any benefit, but they add an element of excitement that is well-suited for the existing combat system.
You can travel the world map between battles to find supplies and other useful information. We appreciated the removal of random battles here—any grinding you want to do can now be done via a manually activated ‘training’ battle—though the Union Level feels like an unfair handicap. With this mechanic, your party is given a max level cap until they progress the story further, which can make some of the harder battles feel unnecessarily difficult when you aren’t able to grind a bit ahead of time to level your characters further. Even though this is a strict limit, it is somewhat relaxed since any experience gained by a maxed out party can be converted into a consumable resource you can use later.
The biggest change in the remake in character growth is the removal of the class-based system. It is now more dependent on grinding. After the battle is over, all party members receive equal amounts of EXP. The lower-leveled members get a slightly higher cut. As they level up, characters’ stats will naturally be influenced by the current class they have equipped and they’ll learn new active and passive skills exclusive to that class. You can only equip four of these skills at a time, which can feel rather restricting given how much choice you’re given later, but we appreciated the opportunity to load out characters differently depending on the fight they would next be in.
Most importantly, you can reclassify characters by simply using a consumable resource to switch them into your preferred class. They will immediately have all the exclusive skills for that class and level. The last Tactics Ogre version on PSP required you to start from level 1 with each reclass. This meant that it was a tedious process to get your character to the point they needed. Although the tediousness has been eliminated, the depth is still present.
It’s quality-of-life changes like these that really elevate Tactics Ogre Reborn, as nearly all the antiquated rougher edges have been smoothed out with well-implemented modern fixes. Do you fear making mistakes? You can always get help with the Chariot Tarot. Are you fed up with micromanaging every member of your team. Just activate the AI, which is quite competent, on most of your team. Do you get bored by the sometimes slow pace of battles? With a single button, you can speed up animation. It’s very clear that the developers of this remake spent an awful lot of time Actually playing itIt is almost as if every area in the game design could cause irritation.
That said, Tactics Ogre sometimes can’t get out of its own way. This is partly due to the fact that the original release was released nearly three decades ago. However, there are many points where it would be better if the game was restructured. Spreading out vertical battlefields may sound great, but it can be frustrating to have to guide 12 units up a hill to get to the middle of the battlefield. Begin Engage the enemy. This remake does a lot to cut back on the tedium, yet it also wasn’t uncommon for us to spend half an hour playing out a battle that was mostly just going through the motions.
It can feel like strategic plays and major strategic decisions are being slowed down by the diminished value of individual units. Having nearly 30 units on the field duking it out doesn’t make you feel like you’re presiding over some cohesive epic battle, but rather like you’re watching a disconnected series of relatively boring catfights between characters trying to cut each other with spoons. For example, in a modern title such as Into the Breach each member of your team and the enemy feels absolutely amazing. Important Each conflict between units is intense because of the larger battle. Even titles featuring larger squads, such as Fire Emblem, are still full of big plays and crucial moments that require a change in strategy. Although Tactics Ogre can sometimes engineer such moments, the majority of battles ended up feeling stale and tepid.
As for its graphical presentation, Tactics Ogre: Reborn is rather disappointing, especially when compared to Square’s ongoing usage of HD-2D. This is the spritework. FineIt does not use the pixel smoothing filter used by modern game companies. Love To be used with older games. Many sprites are shaped in strange ways and have colors that mix together much like water. Meanwhile, the maps have some nice-looking tilesets and environmental details, but it doesn’t take long before you start noticing just how much assets are being reused. Tactics Ogre’s visuals are at least passable, then, but after seeing how Square’s gorgeous new rendition of Live A Live looked just a few months ago, it’s hard to feel like Tactics Ogre didn’t get shafted here.
The audio aspect of the presentation performed well. The orchestral treatment has been applied to the original soundtrack, and the whole script has been enhanced with a full voice cast. There are both Japanese and English voice performances here, and we particularly liked the somewhat nostalgic way in which they’re executed. None of the actors are bad in their roles, but there’s just a Hint That kind of timeless cheesiness in voice acting was evident in many games of the ’90s.