Warriors prepare to fight in one of Symphony of War's tactical battles.

Screenshot: Dancing Dragon Video games

There’s been a raft of intriguing technique RPGs this 12 months, however certainly one of my favorites thus far is Symphony of Warfare. It’s been climbing the charts on Steam in latest months, and for good purpose. From a distance it appears to be like like one other Fireplace Emblem knockoff. Up shut it’s doing sufficient attention-grabbing issues to face by itself, and I actually suggest you give it a shot.

Symphony of Warfare: The Nephilim Saga quietly got here out on Steam in June and has been racking up optimistic evaluations ever since. Developed by an indie workforce known as Dancing Dragon Video games with a historical past of RPG Maker tasks, it’s a trope-filled army drama about civil struggle and demonic threats. However you’ll be able to just about ignore all that. Beneath the predictable plot and airbrushed character portraits is a deep technique recreation that’s exhausting to place down. Personally, I believe it’s even higher within the technique division than Triangle Technique.

Make no mistake: Symphony of Warfare is old-school. Whereas newer entries within the Fireplace Emblem sequence have delved deeper into visible novel components and relationship mechanics, it’s targeted virtually completely on renovating the nuts and bolts of basic grid-based battles. What works so effectively is that Symphony of Warfare nails the fundamentals and likewise provides loads of new wrinkles for followers to dig into (particularly those that additionally dug final 12 months’s Darkish Deity).

Gif: Dancing Dragon Video games / Kotaku

The largest one is that every particular person unit represents a complete squad made up a number of kinds of fighters. Possibly there are some knights in entrance flanked by pikemen whereas wizards and archers rain down demise from the again. When two items transfer subsequent to one another and throw down, a mini-turn-based skirmish ensues. Mages within the again forged fireballs and therapeutic spells whereas knights within the entrance dish out melee injury. Fight unfolds throughout two rounds, with attackers getting the primary flip and the defending aspect going second. Some fighters can solely assault on the primary or second flip, whereas others will sometimes luck right into a bonus flip. The motion is simple to observe and but additionally opens up loads of room for personalization.

Including extra refined layers of complexity are distinctive fighter bonuses and an intensive analysis tree. Horseback fighters get to assault first with out retribution. Infantry present defensive bonuses to close by items. And archers can naturally assault from a distance with out dealing with counter-attacks. These and different stats can then be augmented and magnified by researching new tech. Relatively than leveling up particular items, you’re rising the general capabilities of your military.

A map shows where grid-based combat takes place in Symphony of War.

Screenshot: Dancing Dragon Video games

On this method Symphony of Warfare forces you to generally assume like a 4X strategist whereas taking part in like a standard JRPG fanatic. As a substitute of customizing one single social gathering and preventing by a dungeon, you’re build up a small military of them and taking up an entire battlefield. Finishing missions quicker and capturing enemy items and buildings alongside the way in which nets you extra cash and factors that may then be poured again into outfitting your numerous crews. Only a few novel tweaks and the decades-old tactical JRPG method feels recent and trendy once more in 2022.

Just a few different video games have additionally taken hybrid approaches to tactical RPGs lately. The Iron Oath and Songs of Conquest each come to thoughts. The previous is a roguelike with battles that happen on a hexagonal grid. The latter additionally sports activities a hexagonal battlefield in service of map exploration and city-building nearer to a 4X recreation. They’re actually promising video games in their very own proper (and nonetheless in Early Entry), but neither is as targeted on plumbing the depths of leveraging small benefits so one group of animated sprites can wipe the ground with one other.

Symphony of Warfare is much from an ideal package deal, however it provides one of many extra meaty and progressive takes on the ways RPG method I’ve come throughout in years.

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