Throughout the Remaining Fantasy model, probably the most well-known sub-series is the Ivalice Alliance. Set throughout the fictional land of Ivalice, the handful of tasks that comprised these video games have been marked by their give attention to a extra grounded setting that explored the dramatic politics of a magical medieval world. Nevertheless, earlier than Ivalice got here alongside, its creator—Yasumi Matsuno—initially labored on one other unrelated collection referred to as Ogre Battle that featured an early model of the setting. Ways Ogre: Let Us Cling Collectively on the Tremendous NES was the second launch on this collection and was largely seen as one of many best SRPGs ever made, however it by no means fairly garnered the next many believed it deserved. Now practically 30 years later, Sq. Enix has determined to present it one other crack at discovering a broader viewers with Ways Ogre: Reborn, a remake of the PSP remake they made a few decade in the past. Although it nonetheless reveals its age in some methods, Ways Ogre Reborn does an ideal job of cleansing up this SRPG traditional and presenting it to a brand new era.
Ways Ogre locations you within the function of Denam, a Walister teen residing below the bootheel of the ruling Galgastani within the wake of a civil conflict that passed off a couple of many years in the past. Sick of residing in oppression, Denam ropes his sister and greatest buddy into becoming a member of a resistance to overthrow the ruling regime. As extra allies be part of and the resistance escalates right into a full-scale conflict, Denam is examined as he navigates the political and ethical panorama whereas staying true to his unique beliefs.
It is a gripping and darkish story all through, although it does really feel somewhat dense at first. The larger give attention to political squabbling right here is welcome, however the lack of introduction to main names and occasions could make it really feel such as you’re watching season 4 of Recreation of Thrones with none of the context. Ultimately, you get a way of it however it may be lots initially to trace all of the relationships and motivations occurring.
When you do get into it, there’s loads of plot to get drawn into, particularly given the presence of a number of routes and endings relying on key choices you’ve got Denam make at sure factors within the story. No matter what you select, essential characters will die or abandon you, and when you’re ever curious how issues may’ve gone when you selected in another way, there’s a useful function to return in time to main plot factors and play out the opposite path.
Gameplay in Ways Ogre takes the form of a normal isometric Technique RPG, whereby you give orders to a crew of round a dozen warriors to attain victory over a equally matched enemy staff. Each character has a small assortment of weapons, abilities, assaults, consumables, and magic at their disposal, they usually can every transfer a brief distance each flip and take (with some exceptions) one motion. If somebody dies, you normally have three turns to hustle somebody over to them to challenge a revive; in the event that they don’t make it in time, the incapacitated unit is lifeless for good and takes all of your hours of onerous work and funding with them.
So far as this style goes, Ways Ogre is about so simple as the setup will get—not one of the relationship transport of Hearth Emblem or character stacking ridiculousness of Disgaea to be seen right here—however it clearly has the basics down effectively. It doesn’t take lengthy earlier than you get a grasp of the essential circulate of a typical battle, and there are many attention-grabbing variables thrown in to maintain each struggle feeling attention-grabbing.
For instance, not solely do terrain sorts have totally different results in your stats, however one should take elevation under consideration when transferring and attacking items. Firing an arrow at an enemy at too excessive a place might solely lead to you hitting a wall, or worse, an ally who was standing in the best way. There’s additionally an in depth elemental system at play, whereby each character belongs to a component that’s weak to some assaults and robust towards others. Elements reminiscent of this imply that sending in your Berserker to scrub home isn’t at all times a viable choice, you must think about how your choices might have penalties.
Thankfully, Ways Ogre: Reborn isn’t punitive in the way it treats your decision-making abilities. There’s a useful new function referred to as the Chariot Tarot that lets you roll again to earlier turns when you don’t like the result of a alternative you made, and doing so will even create a branching timeline so you’ll be able to return to the preliminary alternative in case your redo turned out even worse. Certainly, this Chariot Tarot feels somewhat damaged—Hearth Emblem’s Divine Pulse, for instance, felt prefer it couldn’t be used practically as a lot as a crutch—however we respect the way it permits for a way more dynamic sort of problem scaling. These of you who need that old-school problem can merely not use it, whereas gamers who need to maximize their effectivity in a battle can cling to the ‘Golden Path’ they make by constantly discovering the perfect final result.
One other new change for this remake is the introduction of Buff Playing cards, that are randomly spawning collectibles in a battle that may give you an enormous edge. Every card will increase a stat for the character who picks it up, and that buff will keep on with them for the rest of the battle. Usually, you must go somewhat out of your solution to choose one up, however these playing cards can utterly flip the tide when you’re good about who you ship to seize one and when.
Plus, issues are made somewhat extra attention-grabbing by the truth that enemies might be equally buffed by them, which introduces a defensive ingredient to snatching up playing cards earlier than your foes can energy up an excessive amount of. Although we felt generally these buff playing cards have been somewhat too highly effective for their very own good, they nonetheless add a welcome dynamic ingredient that matches fairly effectively with the already deep fight system.
Between battles, you journey a world map that lets you replenish on provides, observe the principle story, or break off for some facet plots and dungeons that may internet you some tasty rewards. We appreciated the removing of random battles right here—any grinding you need to do can now be finished by way of a manually activated ‘coaching’ battle—although the Union Stage looks like an unfair handicap. With this mechanic, your get together is given a max stage cap till they progress the story additional, which may make a few of the more durable battles really feel unnecessarily tough once you aren’t capable of grind a bit forward of time to stage your characters additional. Nonetheless, even this strictly imposed ceiling is softened a bit on condition that any expertise gained on a maxed-out get together is transformed right into a consumable useful resource which you can later dole out your self.
Relating to character progress, one of many largest modifications made on this remake is a removing of the previous class-based system in favor of 1 that’s a lot much less reliant on grinding. EXP is doled out after the battle is over to all get together members equally, with the decrease leveled members getting a barely bigger minimize. As they stage up, characters’ stats will naturally be influenced by the present class they’ve geared up they usually’ll be taught new energetic and passive abilities unique to that class. You possibly can solely equip 4 of those abilities at a time, which may really feel relatively proscribing given how a lot alternative you’re given later, however we appreciated the chance to load out characters in another way relying on the struggle they might subsequent be in.
Maybe most significantly, reclassing characters now is an easy matter of utilizing a consumable useful resource to change them to your most popular class, the place they may immediately have all of the unique abilities unlocked for that class and their stage. Within the final model of Ways Ogre on PSP, you would need to begin over from stage one with each reclass, which meant a laughable grind was wanted simply to get that character to the place they have been earlier than. Now, the tedium has been eliminated, however the depth continues to be there.
It’s quality-of-life modifications like these that actually elevate Ways Ogre Reborn, as practically all of the antiquated rougher edges have been smoothed out with well-implemented trendy fixes. Scared of creating the improper choices? Simply bail your self out with the Chariot Tarot. Irritated by having to micromanage each member of your staff? Activate the surprisingly competent AI on most of your staff and simply fear about a couple of characters. Bored by the generally glacial tempo of battle? You possibly can double the animation velocity on the press of a button. It’s very clear that the builders of this remake spent an terrible lot of time really enjoying it; because it looks like practically each place within the recreation design that could possibly be a degree of irritation has been given an answer.
That mentioned, Ways Ogre generally can’t get out of its personal method. A part of that is most likely because of the unique launch launching practically three many years in the past, however there are sometimes factors the place the sport would clearly be a greater expertise if it was reined in a bit. For instance, sprawling vertical battlefields sound like an ideal concept, till you must spend two complete rounds individually guiding 12 items up a hill to the middle of the battlefield simply to allow them to start to interact the enemy. This remake does lots to chop again on the tedium, but it additionally wasn’t unusual for us to spend half an hour enjoying out a battle that was principally simply going via the motions.
Past this, it usually looks like main strategic choices and performs are blunted because of the diluted worth of particular person items. Having practically 30 items on the sector duking it out doesn’t make you are feeling such as you’re presiding over some cohesive epic battle, however relatively such as you’re watching a disconnected collection of comparatively boring catfights between characters attempting to chop one another with spoons. In a contemporary title like Into the Breach, for instance, every member of each your staff and the enemy staff looks like a fully important contributor to the broader battle, which makes every battle between items nail-bitingly intense. Even titles with bigger squads like Hearth Emblem nonetheless handle to be rife with large performs and key moments that drive a change of tack. Ways Ogre generally manages to engineer moments like this, however right here the resolutions of most battles felt relatively anticlimactic and muted.
As for its graphical presentation, Ways Ogre: Reborn is relatively disappointing, particularly when in comparison with Sq.’s ongoing utilization of HD-2D. The spritework right here is superb, however it employs that gross pixel smoothing filter that trendy recreation firms love to make use of with their re-releases of older video games. Most sprites thus have weirdly formed curves and colours that are likely to run collectively like water was spilled on a portray. In the meantime, the maps have some nice-looking tilesets and environmental particulars, however it doesn’t take lengthy earlier than you begin noticing simply how a lot belongings are being reused. Ways Ogre’s visuals are not less than satisfactory, then, however after seeing how Sq.’s attractive new rendition of Reside A Reside seemed only a few months in the past, it’s onerous to really feel like Ways Ogre didn’t get shafted right here.
Fortunately, the audio facet of the presentation did fairly effectively this time round. Not solely has the unique soundtrack been given an orchestral therapy, however all the script has been spruced up with a full voice forged. There are each Japanese and English voice performances right here, and we significantly preferred the considerably nostalgic method by which they’re executed. Not one of the actors are dangerous of their roles, however there’s only a trace of that sort of timeless cheesiness of voice performing that was current in lots of video games within the ’90s.