Tactics Ogre: Reborn Review — Something Sharper, Something New

Nothing about Tactics Ogre: Reborn is simple, but therein lies the charm.

Tactics Ogre: Reborn is essentially a remake of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, which itself was already a remake of the original Tactics Ogre. It's incredibly rare to see a game get a second chance at life, let alone a third, but what's more interesting is that Square Enix wasn't content to put out a simple re-release with Reborn.

With the help of the series' creator Yasumi Matsuno, Square Enix has brought a wealth of meaningful changes to Tactics Ogre: Reborn, re-evaluating the game's core systems and creating an experience that practically feels like something new. 

Tactics Ogre takes place on an archipelago called Valeria, focusing on a trio of characters named Denam, Catuia, and Vyce. The narrative picks up after the death of King Dorgalua Valeria, which has thrust the land into a civil war between three factions. The trio of main characters is part of a small resistance group for the Walister people, whose village was burned to the ground by the Dark Knight Lanselot of the Holy Lodissian Empire. 

As you might expect, there's a lot of lore and history behind Tactics Ogre's story, but you learn about it incrementally as the narrative progresses. Interestingly, the scope of the story starts out rather small by focusing on the trio, but as they're thrust into the middle of a war, things significantly expand in both scope and drama. The writing in Tactics Ogre is still utterly fantastic, adding a layer of complexity to the already complex and politics-laden story. 

That narrative is exactly the same as it was in terms of content, but the way it's delivered has seen some serious improvements. Voice acting is the big new addition here, and it's something I was initially hesitant about, not sure if it could properly convey the gravitas and weight of the game's script.

Color me surprised, then, when Reborn's voice acting turned out to be my absolute favorite addition. The cast does a phenomenal job across the board, imbuing real dimension to a variety of characters and turning the story into an even more dramatic affair than it was. I can't think of a single tactical RPG I've played that has this quality of voice acting, aside from perhaps Fire Emblem Echoes. Bolstering that, character art has been retouched to look even better than before, and there are some previously generic characters that now sport unique designs. 

The bulk of Reborn's changes, however, appear in the combat system. The core concepts are the same: choosing classes for characters, equipping items and consumables, and managing MP. But the biggest change is how leveling works, with each character leveling separately instead of classes. Adding a layer to that, your entire party now has a level cap that only increases as you complete certain battles in the story. 

This means you can't endlessly grind to improve your characters but instead need to focus on strategy to overcome tougher battles. This makes the leveling system a double-edged sword. I appreciate the constant challenge, but some of the more intense battles can grow incredibly frustrating, especially when bosses feel so far above your party's power level.

Luckily, other small changes make battles more approachable. You can review incapacitated units, rewind time with the Chariot tarot, and predict trajectory for ranged attacks. Buff cards that appear across the battlefield can also be picked up by both you and the enemy. 

Tactics Ogre's battles are more challenging and dynamic than ever before, and your skills are constantly put to the test, whether it's at hour five or hour 40. There is a wealth of other changes I could spend another couple thousand words listing off, but the crux is that Tactics Ogre's systems are more approachable than ever. However, that doesn't exactly mean they couldn't be more so. 

Just like the past two versions of the game, Reborn is still a relatively obtuse tactical RPG that requires you to put in a ton of work to simply understand its systems. There is a play guide you can read, but most of the decoding is left up to you through trial and error. Capturing creatures and the Loyalty mechanic are still largely unexplained, and players can easily overlook or underutilized them. 

Tactics Ogre: Reborn Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Superb story made even better by incredible voice acting.
  • Meaningful changes that make combat feel constantly challenging.
  • New mechanics like Buff Cards genuinely make battles feel more dynamic.

Cons

  • Still has a lot of obtuse systems that aren't properly explained.
  • High difficulty may turn off players looking for a more accessible experience.

Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a thoughtful re-release of a classic that adds meaningful changes to make the experience more approachable in relation to previous installments. Those changes, by and large, are a good thing, but the complexity of Tactics Ogre isn't lost in the process. Diehard fans will likely be happy to hear that, but it would have been nice to see Tactics Ogre: Reborn strive to be even more accessible for newcomers. 

Despite that, Tactics Ogre remains one of the most imaginative and engrossing tactical RPGs ever made, and this is easily the best version of the game to date. If you happened to miss any of the past iterations of Tactics Ogre, there's never been a better time to jump in, and hopefully, this means the franchise still has a future.

[Note: Square Enix provided the copy of Tactics Ogre: Reborn used for this review.]

Our Rating
8
Nothing about Tactics Ogre: Reborn is simple, but therein lies the charm.
Reviewed On: PC

Contributor

Published Nov. 11th 2022

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