Review: Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together [2/3]


   A deep, yet flawed, game.

Following my play-through of Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions a couple of years back, I was interested in seeing what Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (a remake of an SNES game preceding FF: Tactics original release) would be like. Tactics Ogre has kept me occupied for months on end since its release, which has proven to be a dual-edged sword. There’s a great deal to do in the game’s world and also a great deal that restrains the player from enjoying it.

Let Us Cling Together follows the story of a young man named Denam who, along with his sister Catiua and his friend Vyce, are plotting on how exactly they will participate in the flagging Walister resistance. The Walister are a Valerian minority are being subjected to ethnic cleansing by the Galgistani who have backed the resistance into a corner. Denam, together with his party and a group of knights exiled from their home kingdom, attack Almorica castle in order to free the leader of the resistance.

This sets the stage for the player’s role in the game: to assemble a fighting force that’s capable of establishing independence for the Walister, and defending the greater nation of Valeria from outside foes. This challenge manifests itself in several forms, the most obvious of which is the process of character building and skirmishes. Much like Final Fantasy Tactics, characters are assigned a class that is enhanced as that character participates in battles. Their vital statistics become stronger and they gain access to more powerful abilities.

Crafting a well balanced team is essential to succeed, though the player can expect to be challenged at a more abstract level as well. Denam will continue to assume greater responsibilities as the game progresses and will be faced with morally difficult situations. It is not a scenario where there is no clearly drawn line between “good” and “evil”. Rather, the player must evaluate the pros and cons to each decision and contemplate their own principles.

The game’s plot can take a number of different paths as a result of the player’s decisions. On top of all of this, the player must also be considerate of their team’s loyalty. Every character in the game has a racial affiliation as well as a clan affiliation. Denam’s actions with each of those groups can affect his team’s loyalty to the point that they will abandon him if he severely neglects or offends them. Tactics Ogre provides a layered and nuanced approach to issues surrounding war: logistics, strategy, tactics, and morality.

Though, for all of its thoughtfulness, Tactics Ogre has a tendency to over-engineer its game play. It’s easy for the complexity of the battle system to become overwhelming. Players will more than likely try to tackle one aspect of the system at a time and digest it piece by piece throughout the entire game. I found myself learning something new about it fairly frequently even after completing the main campaign. This lends itself to taking advantage of the game’s “World Tarot” system which allows players to revisit earlier portions of the game.  It also gives me the impression that I missed out on an important aspect of the game play.

Tactics Ogre can discourage the player from experimenting with new character classes if for no other reason than meaning to have to start a character over at level one again. Each character’s level is tied to their assigned class. The class itself gains levels rather than the character. Undoubtedly this is designed to minimize the pain of permanently losing a character. As a result, the penalty of losing a character is transferred to developing new classes, which proves to be far more of a detriment to the experience.  Integrating a swordsman class into my team would mean having to spend a considerable amount of time training that class before they would cease being a liability.  Its also worth noting that the game’s graphics are prisoner to it’s original era.  This doesn’t detract from the game play, but it makes it difficult to appreciate the gravity of it’s themes.

Tactics Ogre offers a unique experience with a message about war that would be difficult to express in any other medium. It requires a great deal of investment from the player, which is welcome in some ways, but entirely frustrating in others. For those willing to learn the ins and outs of the system its a great game that will continue to challenge and reward you well after you finish the campaign.

Rating: 2/3

See Also: TrailerOfficial SiteMore thoughts at Ruminatron5000 
Buy it at AmazonRent it at Gamefly

Further Reading: Let Us Remember Together: A Tactics Ogre Retrospective

  1. August 13th, 2011

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