Tactical turn-based games have been back with a vengeance as of late, so it makes sense that one of the most beloved entries in the genre is seeing a grand revival. The developers have even made several enhancements to the PSP version of Let Us Cling Together. So let’s find out if this new edition is worth picking up, in our review of Tactics Ogre: Reborn.
The Long Road to Salvation
For a title that was released all the way back in 1995, the isometric gameplay and story of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together still holds up exceptionally well. Considering how much the strategy landscape has changed over the years, this new release is still as captivating as it was more than 25 years ago. Even though the sprite work doesn’t live up to the HD-2D style of Triangle Strategy and Octopath Traveller, it doesn’t take long before each battle becomes an intense struggle for survival. Especially after Chapter 3, where clever positioning and use of the new stackable stat buff cards can help turn the tide, because the enemy AI is a lot smarter this time around too.
Although, there are some parts of the game that spike in difficulty, where you will, unfortunately, have to grind and experiment with your squad in order to keep up. Or at the very least, potentially lose several party members or precious resources due to enemy numbers being way too high. Something that doesn’t help when certain encounters need to be fought back to back and drag on a little too long for my tastes. Those battles where you have to fight uphill also made me flip my lid on more than one occasion. But if you can, it’s best to just box in the leader and tear them a new one for a cheeky win, since your party members take a couple of turns to fully perish.
The new revival system allows you to resurrect party members an unlimited amount of times mid-battle. So only if 3 turns have passed during their ‘incapacitated’ status will they be permanently removed from the team. Players can now finally see where their ranged actions will end up too, with a clear trajectory line being displayed if it’s within reach. You can also spin the map around and zoom in and out for extra clarity, which is a great new addition. Even if you do still manage to flub things up though, the Chariot Wheel lets you turn back the clock to a specified turn multiple times.
There is Blood on My Hands, How Long Till it Lies on My Heart?
There are no random battles on the overworld map either. Instead, a training mode option lets you quickly level up to speed, capping out at specific intervals to keep players from breaking the game. This addition however, does work well with the new AI system toggle that can fully automate party members in four different modes like Fierce Attacker or Distant Striker, which are all pretty self-explanatory. In terms of their performance, they do a serviceable job in battle. Albeit, don’t expect them to play through the later story missions, because they’ll either get you killed or absolutely delete your in-game wallet. Fortunately, certain mechanics have received a major overhaul in Reborn, with restricted equipment, class changing and technical points either being streamlined or removed entirely. Bringing the game up to more of a modern standard.
All things considered, there is still a stupendous amount of menu-ing to take care of. It can’t help but get tedious constantly having to micromanage the equipment of 10 or more units at a time. One aspect that Triangle Strategy made much more efficient with less equipment and of course, the glorious optimise button. Look, I know people love tinkering with equipment in RPGs, but after 15 years of scrolling through menus and stat lists, I’ve come to appreciate the finer things in life. AKA less busy work.
Before battle though, you can organise five different unit load-outs to choose from, then study the terrain and enemy information to gain a better team insight, which is a nice touch. But again, Triangle Strategy also gave players the option to revisit the merchant before battle and retreat if things were looking rough. Sadly, Tactics Ogre: Reborn doesn’t have these options. So if you forget to equip a particular skill or item to a unit—like I did multiple times—the reset button will quickly become a close friend.
This Stellar Story Should Not Be Skipped
One aspect that I don’t want to spoil however is the story because it’s actually quite good. All I’ll say is that the hero of this adventure, Denam has to weave through several personal and political matters, where each choice directly impacts the progression of the narrative. These lawful, chaotic or neutral decisions do add to the replay value of the game, although most importantly, don’t detract from the story’s thematic elements. The dialogue has a very Shakespearean flavour to it but doesn’t stray too far into that “I will speak-eth the truth-eth now-neth” spiel that Octopath Traveller falls victim to.
On the other hand, the voice-over cast is quite in-depth. Featuring a host of veteran vocal talents that you may have heard of like Max Mittelman, who plays Ryuji in Persona 5 and Nicole Tompkins, who voiced Jill Valentine in the remake of Resident Evil 3. That being said, the final result is a bit of a mixed bag, as certain voices don’t seem to match the characters they’re going for. There are some genuinely great performances, don’t get me wrong, but the rest definitely aren’t going to leave as big of a mark. Unless your name is Hitoshi Sakimoto, who absolutely crushed it on the new live renditions of Let Us Cling Together’s original soundtrack. This style of music became a staple of the Final Fantasy Tactics series, and you don’t have to listen for long to realise why this OST is so revered.
Even though this new remake contains some outdated RPG design elements and mechanics, the core gameplay is still as addictive and challenging as it was back in 1995. Almost every major battle is a true test of tactical prowess, and the new modernisations like stat buff cards, map rotation and trajectory prediction are simply the icing on the cake. Couple this with a live, remastered soundtrack and a great story full of political and personal intrigue, and you’re in for an RPG experience that easily stands the test of time.
By Anthony Culinas – Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a gem of a tactical RPG that needs to be played by veterans or first-timers alike. The many modernisations to the formula really make it shine and the story’s various routes are all worth experiencing to truly soak in the drama. Even if there are some slight gameplay concessions and mixed voice-acting along the way, Tactics Ogre: Reborn is still a bonafide classic.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Square Enix. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.