Available now via Steam early access, Tales & Tactics takes the popular roguelike formula of titles such as Slay the Spire and adds a fun autobattler twist. As its name suggests, it is indeed a game of tales and tactics, with you choosing a character and then following their story while engaging in increasingly challenging battles. Win, and you can keep on adventuring. Lose, and it’s back to the start you go.
What keeps things really interesting here is the combat system. Rather than the turn-based RPG-style combat of the aforementioned Stay the Spire, here, it’s all about building an effective army of units and placing them on a board before hitting the fight button and everything being taken out of your hands. If you’ve paired your units up well and equipped them with items chances are you’ll emerge victorious. If not, well, you might lose some valuable hearts. And once they’re all gone, it’s the end of your run.
Units are purchased with stars, and a selection of them are available before any fight. They come in a variety of types, ranging from dragons to the undead, and what’s really important here is matching their traits. Get a group of dragons together, for example, and you’ll gain bonuses that could mean the difference between victory and defeat. By purchasing multiples of the same unit, they can be merged to make an even more powerful unit, too.
Before each fight, then, you really need to put your thinking cap on. You need to study what units are available to you, what your opponent has on the board, and also consider any items you have in your inventory that might be useful to you. After all, once you hit that fight button all you can do is watch. Needless to say, when do get things right, the feeling is satisfying.
Like all good roguelikes, Tales & Tactics isn’t just about combat, though. Between battles you’ll encounter vendors where you can purchase items that could prove invaluable to you, and also encounter other opportunities that could prove fruitful. Some of these situations proffer choices, too. Coming across some items with a sign that says “please take only one”, for example, do you do as the sign asks and just take one free item, or be greedy and take them all? Just be aware that your choice may have repercussions further down the line.
Every run in Tales & Tactics, then, offers something new and unexpected. And even better, whether you win or lose on any particular run, you’re rewarded. A wide range of unlocks are available, ranging from new characters with their own stories to explore, to new gameplay features and perks being available to keep things fresh. We’ve no qualms in stating that this is a game that could keep you entertained for tens of hours, and with it being in early access, chances are things will only get better.
Tales & Tactics has an RRP of £14.99, but if you buy it before 17th August there’s 20% off, making it a bargain at just £11.99. It’s expected to be in early access for 6-12 months, and the developer, Table 9 Studio, is going to use that time to fine-tune things like balancing and add new content such as characters and modes. Controller support is also set to be added, which resolves our only major bugbear with it: we much prefer being able to sit back and enjoy a game like this with a controller rather than be hunched over our laptop or PC.
Still, even at this early stage, Tales & Tactics is polished enough and packed with a generous amount of content, making it a title that both roguelike and autobattler fans would be wise to check out. There’s even a demo available for those who want to give it a try before they buy.