Initial release date: October 6, 1995
PSP release date: February 15, 2011
Reborn release date: November 11, 2022
Series: Ogre Battle
Designer: Yasumi Matsuno
Genre: Tactical role-playing game
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Playstation, Sega Saturn, Wii U, Wii
Developers: SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD., Quest Corporation, Riverhillsoft, Square Enix
Composers: Hitoshi Sakimoto, Masaharu Iwata
"Review Copy Provided By Square-Enix"
2022 has been the year of the resurgence of the tactical RPG genre with so many contenders that have released. We’ve had new game series be created as well as remasters of classic titles within the genre with none being as big of a surprise as the return of what is often described as the king of TRPGs, Tactics Ogre. Square-Enix decided to bring back the Ogre Battle series with one of the most beloved entries in the franchise being Tactics Ogre, now renamed to Tactics Ogre: Reborn which comes with some tweaks and improvements and a new voice over. Will Tactics Ogre: Reborn be the entry in the series to bring in newer fans of the genre as well as satisfy longtime fans looking to dive back in? Let’s find out!
When you begin the game, you’re presented with five choices that are critical that will dictate the base stats that your main character gets. The scenarios of the questions that you are asked are rather extreme situations, but they are essentially a primer for things to come when you get into the game. After your choices you make are done, you’ll then be dropped into the Valerian Isles during a war that sees no end in sight. Valerian Isle is home to three distinct groups: The Walister, the Bakram, and the Galgastani, with each one striving for power after the death of Dorgalua Oberyth Valeria left no heir to the nation and destroying the peace that once existed on the isle. We are then shown three members of the Walister resistance: Vyce, Catiua, and Denam who go on to attack a traveling party of mercenaries who they assume to be the Black Knight of Lodis. The mercenary band takes pity upon the young trio and decide to assist them for their own reasons as Denam and company seek justice for the atrocities that they have suffered.
Tactics Ogre’s story is one that showcases the horror of war and doesn’t hold your hand in what happens to those who have become displaced, those who survived, and the reality of the areas of gray that exists where there are no real heroes in war. The story is incredibly engrossing and engaging and constantly shows you that no matter what choice you make, there will always be consequences such as having to decide on sacrificing innocents for an overall attempt at peace that will alter the fates of all involved. The game’s branching pathways based on decisions you make and how you play make sure that no two players will have the same experience.
I want to say that there are not many situations in gaming where I feel that characters are so fully realized that they feel like living breathing people, but Tactics Ogre really brings these characters to life by way of an amazing script, localization, and voice cast. Every character is humanized by way of having believable motives, ambitions, and trains of thoughts. There are deep shades of gray across the board and while you will encounter some truly evil people within the game, there are still others who are sympathetic even as they do some horrific things, and it all goes back to the reality of the fact that there are no real heroes in war.
Gameplay wise, Tactics Ogre has one of the most deeply rewarding yet complex battle systems I’ve ever experienced. Battles take place on large grid with both the player and enemy having a set number of units on the field. Battles are turn based with the turn order showing on the bottom of the screen allowing players the opportunity to strategize and plan ahead. What sets Tactics Ogre apart from other Tactical/Strategy RPGs is in how brutal it can be, this is not an easy game by any means, and it doesn’t hold your hand at all. Getting through battles with everyone intact can be exceptionally difficult, its not impossible by any means, just difficult with highly intelligent A.I. and will require you to thoughtfully plot out how you’re going to go about winning. As you move about the battlefield, you will notice cards will appear that can offer you various buffs that will apply to your stats affecting your critical damage, magic, physical, and magic regeneration along with some activating passive and active skills. You definitely want to try and collect as many of these cards that you see as possible as they can definitely aid you in turning the tide of battle. There are cards called Chariot Tarot that allow you to redo turns without giving you much in the way of a penalty up all the way to fifty turns. This is a great feature that allows you to attempt to fix any issues that you run into or mistakes that you have made and allows you to try to save units that you may have lost in previous turns.
Graphically, Tactics Ogre: Reborn is built on the foundation of the PSP game, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling together of which was a remaster.remake of the 1995 original, with all the games graphics from the backgrounds to the effects and even characters being given an HD upscale while giving the user interface a face lift and streamlining it. Character sprites unfortunately do not get a super crisp facelift and struggle to stand out from the backgrounds. One of the limitations of the game is the fact that you cannot rotate the camera 360-degrees and are locked to side view and an overhead view which can feel limiting but is ultimately something the team couldn’t change unless they rebuilt the game from the ground up and used the engine found in Triangle Strategy.
I played the game on PC, Steam Deck, and Nintendo Switch and found the gameplay to be a blast to play on all three. Playing the game on the Nintendo Switch OLED was an absolute dream with how much the colors popped and how beautiful it all looks. While the game looks great on the Steam Deck, the screen it has just pales in comparison to the OLED.
The OST of the game is absolutely stunning with tracks that can evoke every emotion imaginable. Legendary series composer Hitoshi Sakimoto delivers tracks that fit beautifully in every scene that you hear them in and add emotional gravity and when you couple in the fantastic voice cast and their delivery of the lines, then you have a magical combination.
2022 is the year of the revival of the Tactical/Strategy RPG genre and the revival of the Ogre Battle franchise with a remaster of one of the greatest if not the greatest strategy game of all time with Tactics Ogre. Tactics Ogre: Reborn is the years best strategy game and offers up the best political narrative, gameplay, and experiences you will find anywhere and is a welcome return of an iconic franchise.