Sometimes a game comes along that just seems to fail to connect with me. It may not be a bad game by any means, but for some reason it just doesn’t grab me, it fails to make me want to play.
Voidspire Tactics is such a game. It’s a game that, in my eyes, does a bunch of things competently but brings nothing new to the table and in fact is one of the most boring things I have had the misfortune of playing. And make no mistake, it has some problems.
Let’s just get into my Pillars. This is not going to take long.
Visually the game is decent. It uses a 16-bit pixel art style for its character sprites and environments, and it does so pretty well. But it lacks something. And in pretty much every category, it lacks something. For me, the visuals lack personality. Sure, they are solid work, but they are also fairly standard. Nothing really stands out.
At no singular point was I wowed or amazed by what I was seeing. Everything was just done well. Nothing outstanding, nothing terrible. Nothing memorable. Just decent.
Again we have another category where everything is just decent. When I think back on the music and sound of the game all I can really think about is how much it sounded like Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger. Granted, if you are going to make music that sounds like something else, you could do worse than copying these games, but the music never felt like it had its own identity. It just felt like it was a copy of better music. Again, nothing terrible, but nothing memorable. Just solid uninspired work.
Ok, now this is where my actual gripe with this game comes in. So this is a strategy RPG Roguelike game. Roguelikes tend to be heavy on combat and exploration with no real story to speak of. They do have world building however, and a reason to be whereever you are. In an RPG however you tend to be very focused on story and world building, with lots of interesting characters and locations and something to hook you in and make you care about the world.
This game does neither of these things to full effect. Let me walk you through the first 20ish minutes of the game. This is, no joke, what happens.
I start after making my four characters on a boat. No reason is given as to why I am on this boat. No idea where I started, no idea where my final destination is. Nothing is explained. I then walk through the boat to do the tutorial. I leave the boat and meet a guy on the docks of some port, who tells me that to get into the city I need to talk to the Port Authority.
Why do I want to go into the city? What is my purpose in this place? No answers are given.
I wander into a small port, talking to people who say inane or pointless dialog. I end up at a line after talking to a guy who warns me the line is not moving. Now, I stand in line for about 4 minutes because at this point I have had no direction other than “Go to the port authority”. I figured maybe if I stand there an event occurs. Nothing happens.
After this, I leave to see if I missed something. I then see a creepy purple orb in the middle of the market, and no one else is reacting. I touch it. Suddenly explosions and then the sky goes purple. Everyone is dead, there is a lady (I assume) fighting three guys. She asks for my help. I get into a tutorial battle. I kill the guys. She explains nothing, and just tells me more dudes ran back into the boat I started in. I go inside, and find a hole with a rope.
I climb down the rope and end up in a CAVE?! WHAT? WHY? And then I am left to wander.
That’s it. That’s how the game starts. I have no frame of reference for anything. But the game is also clearly trying to tell a story about…something. But rather then spend any time building a world or giving me some motivation its literally just “go here, do things, go here” because RPGs do that. There is no heart here, no soul. Just doing things because other games do these same things. Why bother having a story at all in a game that supposedly focused on exploration? If you are going to have any story, please do it well.
Have you ever played Final Fantasy Tactics, or Disgaea? Because if you have, then congratulations you have already played this game.
This game is a top down tactical strategy RPG. You have a team of four characters, each of whom has a primary and eventually a secondary class. You gain XP in each of these classes to purchase a combination of active powers (Which are available based on which classes you have equipped) and up to 3 passive abilities, which can be from any classes you have access to.
Sound familiar? It should, because it’s the same as FF Tactics. The only difference is I never found a way to increase my characters stats outside of gear. So my HP and SP never increased, just what powers I had available.
Whats really surprising is how busy the UI is. If you look at this screen, you can see what I mean. You have an initiative tracker but it’s not read from left to right but rather from right to left. That confused the hell out of me. Then I had to get used to how to open bags and access characters stats screens.
My personal favorite weirdness is that this game does not use a paper doll system for equipment. Your inventory space is partially used up by having your equipment be in the bag in special spots. Left and Right hands, then armor, arms, and boots. It’s an odd thing. It also uses nested bags for increased inventory so you can have your main bag with 4 more bags each of those can have bags in them and you can see how insane this gets. This was something they had to do in the old days due to programming limitations but it does not need to be this way anymore. Not even RPGs like FF Tactics did this.
The combat is serviceable. It’s nothing special. You take your turn, which has one movement action and one attack or spell action. You have spells and special powers you can use. As far as I could tell there was no run option so no way to spend two actions to close with the enemy. Enemies use the same class system you do if they are human, which means you can end up like I did fighting four people who all had high armor, defensive powers, and heals, which caused them to easily outlast me in a 30 minute fight, wearing me down and then killing me.
There is not a single original idea with the gameplay, and honestly it was done better in other games.
You may notice that I did not record my usual video, and that’s because I could not bear to continue playing this game. Every time I booted it up all I could think about after 10 minutes was how I could be doing something, anything else more enjoyable. This game failed in every way to engage me and connect with me. I managed to play for two hours and finally could not stand it. My breaking point was the 30 minute fight against a group of enemies that would managed to constantly heal and reduce the damage I could deal to them. It was maddening. And before anyone says I can’t judge a game based on two hours of playtime, I counter that a game that cannot get my attention within two hours is a game not worth playing. The argument of “it gets better later” holds no water with me. I should not have to wait for it to get better, it should be good from the get go and become great later.
If you want a strategy RPG I urge you to consider the upcoming Phantom Brave or Disgaea. Stay away from this game. It’s not worth your time or your money. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either. Its simply decent. And in a time with hundreds of games coming out, you have to have something to make you stand out against the crowd. And this game just doesn’t have it.