Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Fort Triumph stands out as a rather unique entry into the strategy genre. It’s a bit like if XCOM had a really irreverent baby with Dungeons & Dragons. There’s a lot to like here, despite some rough edges in a few places.
What is Fort Triumph? Well, at its heart, it’s a turn-based tactics game with some heavy RPG elements sprinkled in. You have action points that dictate how far you can move or what your chosen character can do in any turn. You will encounter enemies along the way that need to get beaten up, and then you gain experience and loot to further feed the gameplay cycle as your characters (should they survive) get stronger. There is also a city upgrade feature that has become a bit more common of late in titles like this, but certainly appeals to me and feeds into this loop nicely.
It’s actually a pretty solid formula, though the tactics component may not quite be for everyone. There is a lot less direct conflict with your opponents than something akin to Fire Emblem. Sure, your warrior can run up and hit something, and your ranger is going to use a bow and arrow to plink at them from range. However, cover is a huge component here, as standing near something in the environment can make a character much more difficult to hit from range (which is what most of the game’s attacks seem focused on). Of course, getting the right angle can certainly help those percentages go up as well.
One notable wrinkle in the combat however, is the use of physics and how they impact the environment. Your warrior can punt an enemy into another enemy to stun them. Your magic-user can summon a gusting wind to knock over a stone pillar and have it fall on the enemy hiding behind it. There is certainly a good deal of thought that goes into how both your and the enemy’s teams move about. It might seem like a great idea to knock over a tree onto the goblin at the front of their group, because it stuns him, does damage and makes him easier to hit. But if you continue to advance forward, you now don’t have the tree to hide behind yourself. There’s a bit of risk and reward to tearing up the battlefield that I found really interesting.
It took me a bit of time to figure out the controls (this was originally a PC game, and I sort of wonder if it was meant to be mouse and keyboard first or not, but the controller works okay once you get used to it), and being a strategy game there is a lot of time spent in menus both big and small as you select characters, abilities, items and more. That being said, the UI is not always very friendly. There were times where I had to interact with a stage item (like a cage to free someone) with no clear ‘action’ to take nor prompts that had me wasting a few turns figuring out just what the game wanted me to do. Also sometimes the ‘tip boxes’ on skills cover so much of the screen chat actually clicking the enemy or environmental object I am trying to interact with gets obscured.
The ‘items and more’ part above is one of the better hooks in Fort Triumph, as I enjoyed picking up new items (many of which have a ‘can be used X number of times per battle, if they’re not consumables) and learning skills for my characters. One quirk that I didn’t love was the character permadeath. In general I’m not a fan of it, as I tend to get attached to characters, and it’s pretty easy to die here if you’re not being careful. All well and fine, but it’s a little oddly implemented as well.
Why do I say that? Well, the narrative focuses on the original characters. Even after they’ve died – they get speaking parts between stages. The story was already a bit hit and miss for me (the writing tries to be funny, throwing everything they can think of against the wall. Not a lot of it stuck for me though), and this just seemed like a strange inconsistency that bugged me when it occurred. It was like the story was reminding me that I screwed up every time someone I liked was well – dead but not. The presentation is a little rough around the edges too. I think visually, things are clean and effective. This isn’t a AAA studio and the fantasy trappings appealed to me. The sound effects and music lacked variety though, and I found myself boring of the soundtrack relatively quickly. Things just got repetitious sooner than I would have liked. I liked the music well enough, but given the slow pace of gameplay and the length of time spent on stages, more variety would have been appreciated.
In terms of the stage structure, Fort Triumph is not a terribly long game, but the procedurally generated stages provide lots of replay value. That keeps things fresh, especially if you are looking to leverage the multiplayer mode. There are different difficulty settings that can be applied, and there’s a decently sized overworld map to explore. For someone like me who enjoys digging into nooks and crannies, I generally found exploration to be rewarding.
Fort Triumph is a solid strategy game that should appeal to fans of the XCOM series. I can’t think of anything else quite like it with a fantasy setting, making it a rather unique game. The overall package is generally fairly enjoyable, even if the wrapping (sound effects, narration, uneven humor) has some rough edges to it. Fans of the genre should find enough here to enjoy though.Score: 7 / 10