Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
If I were to have one guilty pleasure over the rest in the RPG category, Strategy RPGs would be it. Coming from 40 Giants Publishing and 1C Publishing EU, Reverie Knights Tactics scratched this itch over the holidays with bright colorful landscapes which hid a hard as hell design underneath.
Reverie Knights Tactics is the story of a scholar named Aurora who leads a small expedition to a land once ruled by Elves but which has fallen to the Goblinoid peoples that it used to subjugate. Having gone missing in those lands in search of a magical artifact, it’s up to you to find your father and his expedition hopefully in one piece. The premise easily leads into the adventure as far as to start off teaching you some of the core mechanics within the introduction that will affect a variety of choices down the line.
Split between Order and Chaos, you’ll have choices to make without knowing which side of the coin that they’ll fall on. Choices of Order are more cold and calculating while Chaos are passionate and emotional. Choosing one or the other will define who you character is in key moments letting you know that there was no choice in this matter as this is who you’ve decided to be. It works but I do wish to have some inkling of which way a choice would spark as there were a few times I thought it would be Chaos but wound up with more Order instead.
Starting off at a camp once you’ve made landfall, Aurora sets out on her own in order to find her guide. To do this, a world map exists in which you’ll be traveling both direct and indirect paths towards your goal. The direct paths are easy to follow and are provided automatically by the system as new lines and nodes appear once you’ve completed the previous one. On top of those, what I’ll call “sub areas” exist where while new nodes will appear, they’ll appear in branches making you wonder which way you should be heading. It’s a nice little distraction from knowing exactly what you’re in for and you’ll be able to while exploring to find events like treasure chests or more foes that must be defeated to gain an item.
Taking a page out of the old school strategy RPGs in which “one” bad move could potentially send you to your grave, this adventure isn’t one that can be casually approached. Based on an action point system, your characters will either be able to move and act, act twice with less powerful abilities, or act more powerfully giving up movement which will end up dealing more damage than they would if they were to have moved first.
Action points are nothing new but the idea of often only being able to double down was interesting as it really made you rethink at times if what you wanted to do was a good idea as once you’ve attacked, you couldn’t move. It slows the pace but not in a bad way as alongside the action points, the terrains themselves help make up for the lack of double actions with objects that can be destroyed sending out spikes to hit and poison anyone in their way. Adding bramble or thorned vines to hold someone still as you knock or pull an enemy in, there are plenty of options as long as you look around the field first.
Subtly hidden but available from the beginning, each character can be used in any order to compound their actions. Being able to do this is not very common and it was a welcomed addition with the seemingly at first often limited double down action point approach. Everything there works and works well but you have to give it just a little bit of time in order to adjust which is thankfully where meeting bonus objectives and leveling up comes into play.
Bonus objectives are probably the reason that I spent more time in battle that I maybe should have over the course of my adventure. As the difficulty is higher, anything extra is worth going out of your way for especially when it comes to getting more experience and what is known as cogni. Experience will obviously help you level up faster granting you an extra point to be used in Strength, Defense of Finesse which allows for more critical hits against others and glancing blows against yourself.
For these bonus objectives though, they’ll generally range between easy to what the hell to pull off such as being able to ram an enemy into a specific object or make sure to acquire specific items, In either case, with the extra experience and cogni, they are very much worth going out of your way to do or even redoing a stage as adding to the overall difficulty is that once you’re done a stage, you’re done, there’s no going back so getting the most you can out of it while you can will only help in your future challenges.
So while experience helps you level up, cogni is what will be used in order to make items that boost your stats or help you resist status effects. The more powerful the item, the more cogni needed so it’ll really be down to you if you want to use what you have now for an advantage in the next battle or if you want to hold on just a bit longer for a more powerful advantage that’ll last you for many battles to come. It’s another choice on the long list of choices that you’ll make as you look for Aurora’s father.
On perhaps a final note, I wasn’t kidding when I said that Reverie Knights Tactics was hard. With two modes to play, I managed maybe half the first chapter before deciding to pack my bags and head down to the more manageable experience that is offered. As a default, Reverie Knights Tactics is exactly the challenge that I look for in an SRPG. It’s hard, it’s unforgiving, but even if a character falls in battle they aren’t permanently gone (thank you new Fire Emblem modes). What made this perhaps too hard is that in order to heal up and restore mana, you had to eat food. Berries that can be found on the ground, mushrooms in the trees, other items found while breaking objects in the environment.
This one “small” detail was enough to have me look through my inventory and wonder how the hell I was going to make it to the next battle. My party had no hit points and only half mana pools. Knowing a lot more now after the end credits, I now knew what to look for in the hubs, on the puzzle backdrops to find more to make some things easier, but still, it was tough. So, because of that I would recommend going with the “easy” mode where there’s still plenty of challenge, but you’ll at least have your hit points and mana pools restored at the end of every battle.
Overall though, a complete run with side quests and puzzles should run about ten or so hours showing you how one set of decisions pans out before going back in for the other set. Hosting a solid combat system and visual presentation followed by a good musical track, I look forward to seeing what comes next from 40 Giants Entertainment as I don’t think they are quite done yet with Reverie Knights Tactics.Score: 7.75 / 10