February 20, 2017

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More turn-based tactical goodness with a RPG twist in Flamberge. Having just arrived in Steam’s Early Access, the game already looks very promising, although it is a little short and needs a touch more work. I look forward to it only improving with time.

The player in Flamberge controls a small party of soldiers, archers and other classes on various tactical maps against various enemies. Each character can plan movement round the map and can then decide to use one of a few available actions, usually attack, defend or use an item. However, the characters can level up over time which allows new actions. After clicking “Execute” everyone’s plans occur simultaneously. To get around the problem with attacking an opponent who has moved out of the way, each offensive action has 3 possible modes (with decreasing damage): attack this position; attack in this approximate area; and, attack anything nearby. Most of the scenarios require defeating the enemy in battle, although there is also a stealth mechanic around lines-of-sight so a few missions can be done in a clandestine manner.

That is most of the game. There is a meta game around the tactical action. But it seems to mainly exist to progress the story and move the player between battles. There is a vaguely fantasy feel to the game but, nothing overtly unrealistic – so maybe it its just an alternate history. The story is ok and sets the scene, but ends abruptly, or does it? The game is quite short, it took me a little over 2 hours to complete, finishing with a message that there is more to come.

Planning

This is an Early Access title. It is still a work in progress. The end of the game said it was the end of Chapter 2, who knows how many more chapters are planned. The main menu also gave an explicit single-player option, so maybe multi-player is coming too later?

The current state of the game bodes well for the finished product, assuming the devs have the time available to complete it. There are some nice touches in the game, and there has clearly been some attention paid to it with various animations and flying text. So playing is a pleasant experience. The graphics are in a cute little 8-bit style and the music is decent. When planning movement, the characters shift around smoothly leaving an animated breadcrumb trail behind them. I particularly like the way all the characters jump to attention at the start of each scenario.

If they can't see me, they can't hear me

There are some problems in the game. I found it extremely easy once I discovered a single simple trick. All the enemies will tell you (by hovering over them) what they are intending to do the next turn! Where they are looking, who they will attack, or whether they will move instead. This makes it straightforward to create a near perfect plan of action. Tricking enemies into running headfirst towards strong defences, or just move out of the way of their attacks. There is not much challenge when the correct course is largely given to you. There are also a few little annoyances like mouse hitboxes being slightly askew from their expected position, or events occurring too quickly. Still, overall this is a good start to a game. I enjoyed my couple of hours playing, but it is not yet finished.

Flamberge is available on the Steam store on PC and Mac at US$9.99. It has not yet been bundled.

Level up!


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