For Your Consideration: Children of Zodiarcs
Now that we're halfway through 2018, I have to admit I've become pretty frustrated with the diversity and representation options within games. I found myself disinterested in games for a few months. So instead of staying disappointed, I decided to actively search for more inclusive games. Games that were inclusive in terms of plot, characters, and so forth.
Then came across the strategy JRPG Children of Zodiarcs. Developed by Cardboard Utopia, it was released for PC and the PlayStation 4 in 2017. What drew me to the game now in 2018 are its heroes and its story.
From what I can tell the main character is Nahmi, a young thief. She and her friends find themselves fighting against nobles and other injustices. Immediately, you'll notice Nahmi is a black woman. By the numbers, we still hardly have any games featuring people of color, let alone women of color. So this really stood out to me.
So you can imagine my surprise to see her. Now, I had reservations in terms of the plot and her character. However the more I'm play the game, the more I see she's a very well written character. She's fueled by righteous vengeance against her oppressors. At the same time, she recognizes this isn't how she wants to live. Those brief moment of introspection really shine through the plot for Children of Zodiarcs. Nahmi is more of a person than just a hero. Her characterization is just a part of what the plot has to offer.
Now I've played my share of strategy games but I'll have to admit, this game is quite challenging. The difficulty does scale on a natural curve. Yet, you can find yourself overwhelmed if you aren't careful.
The title combines a few ideas to make a unique set of gameplay elements. You move on the field and attack what's within range like all other games. Now it gets more difficult due to dice rolls. All actions require a dice roll. Want to deal a certain amount of damage? heal? You have to roll the die.
As a respectable nod to table top games, the dice roll is everything. If you get a bad roll you can fail to kill a foe for example. Your results of a roll assigns values to attack, defense, activate abilities and so on.
The game allows you to have ideal dice but ultimately it's a game of chance. This game of chance adds tension to make battle very engaging, probably more so than other strategy games. There's more nuances for battle I don't think I've even scratched yet.
I did forget to mention the art/character visuals by Erica Lahaie is very cohesive. The backdrops, art, and character portraits compliment each other. The music composed by studio Vibe Avenue is nothing short of amazing as well, and ties the whole thing together. From intimate moments, to somber monologues, the scoring is very well done. If you're a fan of JRPGs and strategy games I would definitely recommend Children of Zodiarcs.
Children of Zodiarcs is available on Steam and PlayStation 4 via the PlayStation Store