Slice him gangnam style
Ragnarok Tactics is a tactical RPG that brings in some of the most interesting parts of the Ragnarok series, such as the robust class system and cheery character designs. While Ragnarok Online is a heavy influence on this title, Apollosoft is the developer, so the game's pedigree includes many former developers from Flight-Plan, a company with a long history of creating tactical RPGs. Sadly, none of those were localized, so most American have yet to experience them. That said, Apollosoft really seems to have nailed the formula here.
The game begins with a brief introduction to the story and then jumps into character creation. The first option in creating the main character is to select a job. There are ten to choose from on a first playthrough. The Sniper, Assassin, Lord Knight, Paladin, High Priest, and High Wizard all perform as would be expected of their titles. The Champion is a monk-style class that fights with fists. There is also a Whitesmith class that is an alchemist with a melee focus. All of these classes are available to either gender, though there are two more classes, the Dancer and the Clown, that can only be selected with a female or male character respectively. There are also four additional classes, Dark Knight, Shaman, Jonda, and Captra, that are only accessible on a second playthrough if certain conditions were met during the initial one.
After selecting a class and gender, players must choose a hairstyle, hair color, and character voice. For my demo, I picked a female Champion with dark hair and chipper voice, and she was more than ready to punch things to death. For the first chapter, players are tossed into a battle where they are assisted by three allies. I was quickly able to dispatch the enemies in the area without too much trouble, though one of my party members was defeated simply because I wasn't paying close enough attention. All characters are under player control, even the extra story ones. Along with these, players can eventually recruit extra characters as mercenaries.
Characters gain a minimal amount of experience by attacking foes, though a more significant amount is gained by defeating them. In this game, there are base levels that control most stats and also job levels as well that determine how skills are earned. Story characters are restricted to their initial job, though the main character and recruits can change. When changing jobs, their job level is dropped back to level one, but there are bonus points that can be tossed into the new job to boost it. In terms of customization, there are also cards dropped during battle that can be added to equipment in order to enhance it.
The combat is typical tactical RPG fare, straightforward and unencumbered by overly complex systems. Aside from basic melee attacks, characters also have spells and skills that use up skill points. Two examples would be the Champion's ability to boost her own attack power and the Lord Knight's powerful melee attack skill. Combo attacks are available if a pair of characters meet certain combat requirements. Adding an extra layer of depth to battle is the overdrive system where multiple skills are performed one right after the other, such as using two powerful attack skills in a row.
Blasting through Ragnarok Tactics once should only take about twenty hours, but there are multiple features that encourage additional playthroughs. Not only are there five different endings, three of which are based on which faction the player follows, but new classes and side quest story arcs also open up on additional playthroughs. Some story quests are not even made available until the third time through the game, so there are many reasons to replay it, though they are thankfully optional.
Another aspect of the game is the dialogue system. Occasionally, players are given dialogue options to select. These tend to follow the typical "nice, neutral, and rude" formula and help alter which characters join you and which ending you receive. If players are unhappy with the path they are currently on and have earned enough special points, they can use those to access the AIZ system that allows the player to return to a previous decision point in order to follow another path. Players will retain their level and everything, so nothing is lost by taking this path. It is just another optional feature that allows players to experience more of the game.
During my demo, I was able to talk with the game's editor Mike Engler about the project, and he was quick to compliment a couple things about Ragnarok Tactics. First, the game's story, though it might seem like standard fantasy fodder, is said to offer some very interesting plot branches and story twists. While no specifics were given to avoid spoiling the game, Mike was very enthusiastic about the game's occasionally dark tone. Second, Engler praised the game's side quests for branching out from the norm and trying something outside the box.
Ragnarok Tactics is currently scheduled to release this fall, possibly in November, though a specific date has not been confirmed at this moment. The build we were shown was in English except for a rare line of text, so it seems to be progressing fairly well. It will be available both on UMD and PSN for $29.99 at launch. It might be a fairly traditional take on tactical RPGs, but it looks very competent.