When somebody mentions the technique or tactical RPG style, it usually conjures up visions of turn-based fight going down on a grid. Sure, there are exceptions, however the battlefields of video games like Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, Disgaea, and Fire Emblem, with their planes squarely divided into rows and columns, have come to outline the style. The Diofield Chronicle appears to be like to interrupt freed from that grided jail. Developed by Square Enix and Lancarse (finest recognized for Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey) and revealed by the previous, The Diofield Chronicle brings a contemporary really feel to strategic fight, even when what is available in between battles is underdeveloped.

The Diofield Chronicle takes place on the island of Diofield, positioned off the coast of a landmass known as “the continent.” Two warring factions, the Schoevian Empire and the Rowetale Alliance, have been combating for years, turning into deadlocked. They each consideration to Diofield, which is wealthy in jade, the gasoline for contemporary magic. The sudden undesirable consideration from the continent sends the steadiness of energy on Diofield into disarray as video games of intrigue unfold between home rivals and overseas interlopers.

(Photo: Square Enix)

Players take management of Andrias. Once the chamberlain to a younger prince of the ruling household on Diofield, Andrias has since develop into a mercenary. Through the sport’s earliest occasions, he and three different principal characters — Andrias’ shut good friend Fredret, a knight errant named Iscarion, and a younger noblewoman named Waltaquin — come collectively to kind the Blue Foxes mercenary firm. Players expertise the upheaval on Diofield by their eyes, together with loads of the inner drama among the many group’s varied characters because the ensemble grows in dimension and popularity. 

The narrative feels nearly impenetrable at first. There are loads of made-up phrases and unfamiliar correct nouns thrown round, and few of the political machinations taking part in out appear to have any significant influence on the lives of those characters. Throughout the sport, lots of the story’s occasions are communicated by monologues from an unseen narrator between battles as a substitute of seen or obtained by the characters’ eyes, making all of it really feel a bit impersonal. 

(Photo: Square Enix)

Given time, nevertheless, the story proves engrossing. It retains gamers guessing who’s manipulating whom as loyalties conflict with beliefs. It’s all wrapped in a sure irony because it lays naked the corruption of 1 societal establishment after one other even because the integrity of the Blue Foxes themselves firm itself struggles beneath the load of its growing dimension and affect.

For followers of the SRPG style, the sport’s narrative might be paying homage to Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, and Fire Emblem. For extra mainstream-minded audiences, the touchstone will seemingly be the tv collection Game of Thrones, which appears to be a comparability Square Enix is leaning into by hiring the present’s composers, Ramin Djawadi and Brandon Campbell, to attain the sport. Djawadi and Campbell flip in delicate work that matches the narrative and is well listenable to for hours at a time.

The Diofield Chronicle tosses turn-based grid fight in favor of the “actual time tactical battle” system. That sounds model new however ought to really feel acquainted to anybody who has performed a recreation within the MOBA style like League of Legends or Defense of the Ancients. Combat takes place in real-time, although time stops whereas giving instructions. Players management a bunch of 4 characters, giving them order as they cost into battle with opposing forces, alternating between auto-attacking and activating abilities. The strategic components do not revolve round robust positioning (although attacking from behind yields elevated “ambush” harm, and gamers will need to learn to pull enemies away from giant teams and cannon turrets). Instead, a lot of the gamers’ strategic vitality in fight goes towards synergizing as they attempt to use their models’ abilities to maximise DPS, space of impact assaults, timed buffs, and refresh charges.

(Photo: Square Enix)

Speaking as somebody who has by no means been notably good at MOBAs, The Diofield Chronicle posed little in the best way of problem. I may virtually sleepwalk by battles on regular problem whereas arduous yielded only some setbacks, primarily suffered as a result of minor psychological lapses quite than as a result of I confronted a tough opponent. Players can up the sport’s velocity to 1.5x or 2x the norm, growing the issue proportionally because it requires gamers to make selections sooner. However, I discovered this an unsatisfying problem because it depends on hecticness quite than craftier techniques or fiercer enemies. Also, taking part in on a PlayStation 5, the elevated velocity highlights the restrictions of the console-based management scheme, which has gamers utilizing shoulder buttons to scroll by characters one by one or in any other case discovering them amidst the chaos on the map with an analog stick-controlled cursor. But it speaks to the stable fundamentals of The Diofield Chronicle‘s fight that I by no means obtained bored and continued to seek out battles partaking even dozens of hours into the sport.

In between bouts of bloodshed, gamers are free to roam the halls of the Blue Foxes’ house base, Elm Camp. Here, gamers can have Andrias communicate to the opposite characters, tackle sidequests, purchase objects, and improve abilities and weapons. At first, it appears akin to Dragon Age: Inquisition‘s Skyhold or Fire Emblem: Three House‘s Garreg Mach Monastery, however gamers will rapidly be taught that it lacks the depth or character of these different bases. 

(Photo: Square Enix)

Conversations between characters are usually not interactive, and there’s no system for character bonds. Instead, every dialog is sort of a sidequest that yields assets to fund unit upgrades or in any other case unlocks an non-compulsory battle that, upon completion, will yield assets to fund unit upgrades. Conversations are totally linear and solely nominally non-compulsory (conversations and sidequests are the one method to achieve the funds for upgrades). Elm Camp is, bodily, little various darkish rooms and hallways, and the improve and retailer capabilities are accessible from a menu at first of a battle. Thus, the bottom’s existence looks like a vestigial limb, as if the designers deliberate to do extra with it initially however then ran out of time or cash, however solely after they reached the purpose the place it might be too expensive to take away it totally.

However, whereas the house base facet of the sport is underdeveloped, the fight on the core of The Diofield Chronicle is a breath of contemporary air. Paired with a narrative steeped in intrigue and drama, The Diofield Chronicle will seemingly fulfill followers of the style whereas probably charting a brand new path for it sooner or later.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Diofield Chronicle goes on sale September twenty second for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Windows PC. It was reviewed on a PlayStation 5 with a assessment code offered by the writer.



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