There are a dozen reasons not to recommend the original Tactics Ogre.
The name really implies everything you need to know: it’s a tactical game and brutal in nature, reminiscent of the high difficulty and permadeath of the early Fire Emblem games that we’ve never seen in the west.
The game doesn’t hold your hand at all, assuming you’re either going to dive into the in-game tips and tutorial menus or have some knowledge of strategy RPGs.
If you’ve never walked this trail before, you’ll be a fish out of water as there isn’t even a difficulty option here to get you into things.
Despite all that, if you’ve walked this path before, this could be considered a must-play RPG.
Despite all of those frustrations and the quality of life features you might have been expecting that haven’t been added anyway, Tactics Ogre: Reborn feels like a very pure experience.
There’s no irony as it presents its world and races, no nudge and wink as it revels in presenting its lore as if the player with Tolkien-inspired imaginations were a total unknown.
It’s honest, straight forward, and that’s how the combat plays out.
Thankfully, you can dive into a menu and undo a turn if you really regret your moves, and a turn isn’t set in stone until you’ve used an action, just so you don’t end up repeating arrow shots until you get it create to score a critical hit, and still gives you the ability to reposition to direct your attacks around allies and onto enemies.
Yes, this is a tactical RPG in the same vein as Final Fantasy Tactics, just a bit more brutal.
But this overall harder tone continues throughout the story.
Nothing about the world of Tactics Ogre feels whimsical, it’s about orphans, religion, knights, mercenaries, necromancy, and it all feels awful.
It’s a world where any sort of social mobility for our protagonists happens through murder, ordered by a lord who only ever has his own interests in mind.
People will help you if you paid them to do so, nobody is a part of your party with a pure heart, not even really the people your protagonists grew up with. The power of friendship is always secondary to the power of survival.
This is the Tactics Ogre that players have already gotten to know, but Reborn is a new remake.
It manages to make the story more impactful than ever thanks to the full voice acting that really brings each character to life.
There’s no underestimating how much of a difference this makes, and of course, hearing a voice you care about screaming in pain will hurt you even more.
They don’t die instantly, they get a three-round countdown, but if you don’t get through it in time with a revive spell or item, they’re gone forever.
Permadeath makes you take care of each unit, and giving those units a voice amplifies the effect.
The presentation outside of the battles is also fantastic.
Menu animations swing by at a smooth 60fps, and the layouts allow you to better understand the makeup of each of your units at a glance – but there’s still plenty of nuance to delve into or go over your head.
It all feels incredibly polished, but then again, things don’t seem to have been given that much care in combat.
It’s weird that each level has essentially been recreated, so now you can move the camera so you can view the steps from above.
Moving between the two vantage points gives you a nice 3D perspective to look at the stage from.
But the stages themselves are still very faithful to the original, for lack of a better word.
The original game’s pixel art has been saturated here and looks brighter than before, but it’s been given a smoothing filter that ends up being a bit distracting.
Characters and environments have been smoothed to the same level, and most retro enthusiasts – myself included – would have far preferred a classic, crisp presentation.
While Tactics Ogre will be fairly unforgiving for players new to the genre, it also feels like a must-play.
Modern tactical games often sacrifice permadeath and high difficulty in favor of mainstream appeal, but thanks to a lack of compromise, Tactics Ogre: Reborn stays true to its roots and, in 2022, shows us a stunning example of what the genre can be.
Written by Dave Aubrey on behalf of GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/9730674/tactics-ogre-reborn-review/ Tactics Ogre Reborn impressions: tough but worth it