I recently had the pleasure of receiving early access to Tactics Ogre: Reborn ahead of my official review. For this preview, I can only discuss Chapter 1 of the game. This is roughly the first seven hours of the game, depending on your skill level and how much you grind.
While Tactics Ogre is a difficult and often clunky strategy RPG, it’s one that I hold dear to my heart. Before Final Fantasy Tactics swept the world, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together ruled the market.
As a politically charged story of murder, betrayal, and sorrow, it’s got everything I need in one place. The Ogre series may not have caught fire in the West as much as Final Fantasy did, but it’s a beloved title worldwide. Tactics Ogre: Reborn is much more than a graphical overhaul.
Game elements that were clunky or made no sense were altered, and many of the game’s systems were reworked or remade entirely to make the gameplay far more enjoyable.
In Tactics Ogre: Reborn, strategy RPG fans are in for a treat. So much of this game has been fixed, overhauled, or upgraded to give an enjoyable experience. One of the most significant changes has to be to the Class/Skill systems. Characters gain levels as they progress, instead of each character class having its level.
That way, if you switch your Warrior to a Berserker, they won’t feel powerless or weak. The skill system was enhanced too. Instead of slowly gaining Skill Points, you passively unlock skills for each character class as you level up. When you use skills, they will also level up over time, and you’ll see these results at the end of battles.
You have to slot them in, so pick the right skills for the job. New skills have also been added, and many other abilities were returned to make them feel valued. One of my favorites in the early game was Pincer Attack. If you attack an enemy standing between your units, a second attack will strike from behind.
For magic, the TP system was replaced by an MP system in Tactics Ogre: Reborn. Casters start with no MP, but as they move and take turns, that will fill up. Some skills can grant more MP at the start of a turn or items to use.
The spell icons have also been changed to more accurately represent what they are instead of those blank, colored scrolls from the original game. The descriptions of spells, skills, and abilities make sense and are easy to understand.
On spells, elemental archetypes are more critical, and you can even pick a basic type at the start for your main character, as a goddess you serve. It’s the minor improvements that make Tactics Ogre: Reborn so spectacular. When you recruit new characters, you now have the power to pick their elemental archetype, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Tactics Ogre: Reborn’s combat UI was also overhauled to make it clear to see what your options are. In the original, they slotted onto the left side of the screen, and it felt kind of bland to me. Now, I can see the abilities icons, their costs, and more. It’s easy to pick your abilities in this game version.
You can only equip four items per character, but there is an accessibility feature that will automatically replenish them for you, provided you have extras in your inventory. It’s handy with resurrection stones, which you will need plenty of.
Spawning “buff cards” will appear throughout the battles that you and the enemy can pick up. The Blue cards offer temporary stat buffs, Green cards are permanent stat bonuses, and Red cards nullify all Blue buffs. You can use this to your advantage by knocking enemies into the Red cards.
You can have four buffs in Tactics Ogre: Reborn at a time, so be wise about which ones you pick. In addition, combat moved slowly in the original – you can speed things up. However, I noticed that even on the default speed, the combat choices of your enemies were barely on the screen for a second before vanishing. Not a huge deal, but it is worth mentioning.
There are so many little things to talk about that this game is doing right, though. You can toggle health bars on, which is new. You have more camera options to rotate and zoom out with to have an excellent view of the battle.
You also always know if the elemental attack you’re using will be helpful against your foe, thanks to the overhauled combat UI of the game. You see how much damage you’ll do, your hit percentage, and how your elemental attribute will affect things.
The 2D-HD visuals are breathtaking, and while I like how the original game was drawn, this is much better for me. Unfortunately, it does not seem like you can swap back to the old graphics if that’s what you prefer. Each map stands out in brilliant colors, and all character portraits are terrific.
The music is beautiful, and I’m so glad these characters are now voice-acted. In my original playthrough, the game was lacking. That was more of a limitation of the era than anything else.
Tactics Ogre: Reborn is gorgeous, and each enemy and player sprites look distinct. The character classes look outstanding, and the screen’s spell effects pop up. The animations for all the attacks look solid, and I’m very impressed with what was done with this classic RPG strategy.
Square Enix genuinely outdid itself with Tactics Ogre: Reborn. I thought it would be a reskin, visually overhauled with little else. I was certainly mistaken. Much of the game’s systems, attacks, and mechanics have been improved to make it a far more palatable experience overall.
Tactics Ogre’s classic story combines the challenges and fun that come with it. The soundtrack is incredible, the gameplay is tight, and the visuals are sharp. It had a bunch of quality-of-life changes, too. The equipment menu was overhauled to great benefit. You can also highlight anything you aren’t familiar with to get more details.
Random encounters are removed; instead, you go to a stage and choose the “train” option, which gives you a random battle to level up with. There is so much about this game that I want to discuss. A full review is coming soon. Tactics Ogre: Reborn is an incredible must-own for any turn-based strategy RPG fan.
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