Tactics Ogre Reborn – PlayStation 5
In this new episode of “Square Enix Releases Everything in 3 Months”, we will tell you about one of their most “safe” projects, Tactics Ogre Reborn. Not because the game isn’t interesting, but because (unlike reboots like Valkyrie Elysium or weird new IPs like Various Daylife and Harvestella) it’s a fairly simple remaster of a game we already know the quality of. In fact, we state from the outset that Tactics Ogre Reborn is an excellent, if not exceptional, strategy JRPG. Unfortunately, the remastering work done by Square Enix can’t be considered enough to place this classic among the modern video game Olympians, where it could easily have arrived with a little more care. After all, our opinion of Tactics Ogre Reborn is as simple as the remastering job it underwent: it’s a very quality game that’s quite limited in portability. For newcomers, Tactics Ogre Reborn is a strategy JRPG from the SNES, Saturn, and Playstation 1 era that was previously re-released on the PSP. The current-gen version builds on the first re-release and updates it with higher resolution sprites, new AI, some tweaks to the character upgrade system, and improved quality of life. Before we go into detail about how Reborn is a missed opportunity, we should mention some very important advantages of the game. The starting point of the product, as already mentioned, is exceptional. Strategic combat is high-level, fun, and supported by powerful power-up systems. The choice of which classes and skills to send characters into the field is always interesting, and the variety of approaches to combat is impressive both in the context of games from 20 years ago and in the context of today’s gaming landscape. .
Other retro titles in the genre, such as Langrisser or the revival of the first Fire Emblem, remain remarkably similar to their counterparts today, but show obvious limitations. Tactics Ogre Reborn, on the other hand, remains very good, even more interesting than other recent titles like the good The DioField Chronicle. Looking at the battles, we also find the most important new feature of the entire remaster, speeding up battles. It’s not a mode where everything is skipped and minimized, but a necessary and appreciated speed-up of the original’s very slow animations. For that reason alone, Tactics Ogre Reborn is definitely the best way to bring back the Square’s classic, but unfortunately there are many areas where the team has limited itself to the bare minimum. The game’s menus are still quite archaic, making it difficult to keep track of the gear and skill levels of different characters. The UI works during the battle, but it is archaic in its turn and sometimes almost incomplete, some options are incomprehensible and even ugly to look at. Added to this is a more obvious problem: the choice to reuse the same spritework from the past and not switch to the iconic HD-2D, which seems appropriate for the genre. Especially since the classic style of strategy is preserved to perfection, there are a few tweaks here and there to make it faster (like introducing a fast forward button) or to shuffle the cards. Tactics from the first battles Ogre: Rebirth is difficult because the AI acts intelligently. Unlike many other games in the genre that feature very passive enemy combat in the early stages, in this game you have to pay attention to every move from the start. The difficulty isn’t as high as a wall, and there’s a perfect balance of teaching the mechanics to a novice player while also engaging an experienced player right away.
A reality that can do more.
The story immediately shows that it is high level not because of the events presented but because of the dialogues. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a Square Enix title with such solid writing in the exchanges between existing characters. Their relationships are immediate, without boring explanations, but characterized by words, actions and emotions. It certainly helps that the voice acting is so top-notch. Remakes of games from that era are always valuable for showing what we’ve lost in the narrative realm, where self-expression is more complex due to graphical evolution, both due to high production costs that limit developers, and substance. 3D, which makes it difficult to render the raw scenes that were so popular in narrative video games in the 90s. The new soundtrack is very good. This is standard for Square Enix products, but it’s still important to highlight the company’s commitment to its often-underrated soundtrack. The original OST was recorded live and luckily the orchestra used great sounds. Melodies are augmented by instruments rather than muted as in other orchestral productions for video games.
Conversely, and as previously stated, the appearance of Tactics Ogre Reborn would deserve some changes. We do not agree with this choice to stay with the old style, because it lacks expressiveness and strongly opposes high-end sounds. The characters exist in a state of limbo between the absolute anonymity of the aesthetic and the drama the character and writing give them. The impression is that the project has a fairly low budget and a large part of the money goes to the vote. The character upgrade system has been slightly reworked to invite more experimentation with classes. This experiment yielded positive results, but not much. Leveling up after a class change is useful, but the nature of the job system is that you always have to invest in the same weapons, which severely limits the player’s options unless they want to farm. It’s a step forward from the past, but not by much. Overall, everything about pure gameplay in Tactics Ogre Reborn is pretty much flawless. It’s a shame the team couldn’t go the extra mile to take better care of those around him.
Tactics Ogre Reborn is the best version of the classic turn-based tactical RPG, an exceptional opportunity to restore a title that still holds its own against the competition. The real flaw of the product is the lack of remastering work that could have added more like QoL and updated the aesthetics and UI. Thankfully, the base game is of that rare quality that, 27 years after its release, it still ranks among the best in the genre. You won’t find the modernity of Fire Emblem Three Houses, but Tactics Ogre Reborn remains an example of the incredible potential of a strategic JRPG.