A fun tactical RPG light on tactics
Reverie Knights Tactics is a simple tactical RPG, one with a lot of potential that’s never quite explored as much as it perhaps should be. There is undeniable fun to be had in this 10-15 hour title though, with three acts of increasing difficulty and some satisfying battling.
The game is held back by its archetypal characters and a battle system crying out for more depth than what we’ve given.
The bulk of the play-time is split into two distinct areas. The first, plays out like a graphic novel with cut-scenes and hand-drawn backdrops for you to interact with your teammates. There are also world maps, with your party moving from one area to the next, courtesy of a dotted line and a circular area unlocking, signifying a new battle area, cutscene or puzzle to explore.
The rest of your game-time sees you thrust into battles that take place across isometric grids (more on that in a minute.)
There’s nothing particularly bad about the story writing but it’s not exactly inspired either. The plot falls into all the usual fantasy clichés with very little in the way of pizzazz or memorable segments.
You’ve got the medley band of misfits from different races teaming up, the overarching fetch quest, the betrayal from a teammate and the evil presence threatening to wipe out the world.
The game’s main protagonist is Aurora, a cleric of Tanna-Toh, the Goddess of Knowledge. Aurora starts her journey and soon teams up with Brigandine, Fren and Hellaron to combat the evil plague spreading across the world. In order to do that, she’s tasked with traveling to the long-lost Elven city to save her loved ones.
Spicing things up is the promise that “every decision you make can alter the story.” In its simplest form, this falls to an Order/Chaos system, that differs your choices for what happens to your party and a few key moments across the world. However, this is much closer to a big decision like the nuclear bomb in Fallout 3 rather than something as intricate and weaving as Detroit: Become Human.
Despite presenting itself as a tactical RPG, there really isn’t that much to the game’s tactical battles. However, that’s not to say this isn’t a lot of fun.
Your characters are each given two action points (AP) to be used per turn. These can be spent by using items, moving across the board or attacking. However, if you choose to stay rooted to the same spot, a more powerful variation of an ability or spell is granted, allowing you to do more damage.
Environmental hazards help to mix things up, which can be struck to either inflict damage or clear a path through to a different section. Treasure chests usually hold a few trinkets too, although enemies can actually claim these for themselves.
The abilities for each of your characters range from ice blasts to quick jabs from spears, all the way through to a cloned version of oneself to confuse the enemy. However, each of the four characters has a very specific purpose, which you’ll realize quickly as you start to gain control of each one.
The enemies themselves are nicely designed but this is another game that falls prey to the “change colour for harder variation” trope. It’s used quite a lot too, and that’s particularly problematic when you start facing the same enemy repeatedly and realize they all use pretty much the same two or three moves.
The actual battle speed is also pretty slow too. This is something that players picked up on prior to release, and to be fair the devs have responded to this, giving the option to speed up enemy turns.
Seeing developers actually engaging with players and making these sort of changes deserves to be applauded and gives this game some major brownie points from this reviewer.
At the end of each battle, you’re granted experience points, with extra awarded on top of that for completing certain tasks. While this in itself is a nice inclusion, it also reinforces Reverie Knight Tactic’s biggest problem – it’s linearity. You see, these battles are one-off affairs and can’t be repeated again. There are no random battles out in the field, nor exploration across the map, just one straight path to the end.
While I appreciate the incentive here is not to be completely overpowered and steamroll through the game, part of the joy with RPGs is that level grind, slowly becoming better and stronger to tackle harder foes. Without a gripping and utterly enthralling story to prop it up, this is a real disappointment.
This also negates the whole skill tree progression to an extent, as leveling up feels artificially driven rather than organic. Given each of your players fall into a distinct class, granting skill points is tipped in favour of who you’re playing as. After all, you wouldn’t want to max out the strength of your healer!
Aesthetically though, Reverie Knights Tactics is a real looker. The gorgeous hand-drawn cutscenes, character models and backgrounds really pop and stand-out.
The team seem to know this too, with a few sections allowing you to click and collect items on these beautiful backdrops. I’m certainly not complaining though, and these sections, allowing you to drink in your surroundings, are easily the highlight of the whole game.
As a personal gripe though, it would have been nice to see more variation with the enemies and new spells to be used, which would have been a great inclusion to really show off the prowess of this talented art team.
Despite its story flaws and simple battle tactics, this is still a fun game to play. With no microtransactions, predatory lootboxes or noteworthy bugs at launch, this is not a bad title to splash £20 on.
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Verdict - 6/10