Tactics Ogre: Reborn Review – One of the best strategy games of all time just got even better

Tactical Ogre: Reborn is a remake of a remake. But that doesn’t make it any less important – even indispensable – in this day and age. The strategy title – coming to PS4, PS5, Switch and PC – is a lavish overhaul of the infamous 2010 RPG. Tactics Ogre: Let’s stick together who isn’t afraid to plunge his hands into the original’s chest cavity and move the organs within to restart the heart with a well-presented and sharp punch of his fist.

Here’s a story trailer (if you can follow it).

Square Enix has essentially removed barriers to getting Tactics Ogre: Reborn into the hands of modern gamers. By letting your units take a little tour of the battlefield, collecting cards that improve their stats and open up their options, you’re no longer limited to a particular play style with your armies. For example, do you make your defense classes strengthen their sword arms and land stronger hits? This is now viable.

This means your countless battles – each lasting between 20 and 50 minutes – can unfold more smoothly. By dominating the battlefield and understanding your surroundings (and responding to the buff cards that like to appear on the field), you can more easily and spontaneously respond to enemy threats.

Flank a Dragoon to catch a Critical Hit+ card, and then see them spear the open side of an army before slaughtering the back line? This is tactical RPG catnip. You feel like Sun Tzu. And it’s something that didn’t really exist with the tarot system in the original. As far as late-coming added features go, it’s a stroke of genius.

It’s all very pretty.

That tidal nature in a Tactics Ogre game does wonders for the brain too. While your left brain fires and calculates all the min/max calculations you do to ensure your caster will live another battle, your right brain is swamped with fiction. Why does moving to this swamp field give your ninja an attack buff? Maybe it’s because she can launch an attack on the phalanx of the enemy rear line from here, right? There is a rock she hides behind before sneaking down and picking up the stragglers.

In a game as slow as Tactics Ogre: Reborn (no criticism), it’s nice to give your brain room to contemplate the fiction of melee combat. Especially when the title itself fills that world so well – the throne politics that latches onto your cortex and draws you into its intrigue and menace. Game of Thrones, eat your heart out.

To captivate you even more and give your senses even more delicious stimuli, you have the brand new soundtrack; an emotional barrage of bombast and triumph that will – really – have you clutching your Switch with glee as it rises and swells to match the way you depict a rebel uprising on this one lake-tiled map to bury.

I’ve been playing on an OLED Switch, and the character art and sharp pixelation of the in-game graphics manage to walk the fine line of being nostalgic and familiar, yet clean and appropriate for modern hardware. It looks even better than it did when it was handheld on the PSP back in 2010 – and that’s saying something, because the Sony version of this remaster was sumptuous too.

Key Art for Tactics Ogre Let Us Cling Together.

If you’re coming here from newer, slicker strategy RPG titles (hello, Fire Emblem: Three Houses fans), you’ll be put off by some of the more granular UI stuff. There are only two camera options in combat – overhead or isometric – and navigating the map when things get tricky can be frustrating.

The game is also a relic from an era of grind; kill one of your hero-knights if he’s level 42, for example, and you’ll be forced to recruit his level 1 replacement (or try to persuade a rival mercenary to join your ranks). I like this; It lets you appreciate every life and not just fall into the pit thinking your crew is expendable. It gives weight, consequence and danger to the fights. And if you mess up, you can always boot up and save old. You just lose… wait – what, 90 minutes?! Damned.

If you love the structure and execution of this remaster as much as I do, then you’ll also relish the opportunity to step back in time and see where the branching narratives converge and diverge. Upon completion, you can rewind time to each important event and choose a different path. See how things would have gone if you saved that character or executed the other one. More specifically, you can also do it turn by turn in combat – rewind two turns to make sure your cleric doesn’t get snapped by a blowgun all over the map (again).

In a world where we’ve seen Square Enix take a beating with remasters (examples include the lackluster Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters and the outrageous Kingdom Hearts on Switch), Tactics Ogre: Reborn highlights something special – a changing of the guard, so to speak. which bodes remarkably well for the rest of the publisher’s classic RPG oeuvre. Tactics Ogre: Reborn Review – One of the best strategy games of all time just got even better

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