Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together PSP Review

March 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, PlayStation, PSP

Publisher – Square Enix – Developer – Square Enix – Genre – Strategy RPG – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 12+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

Before the celebrated designer Yasumi Matsuno brought Final Fantasy Tactics to the world, he worked on Tactics Ogre a less well known franchise to the west, but one that upon playing it is easy to see the genesis of Final Fantasy Tactics within.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling together is a reworking of a 1995 SNES strategy RPG, which itself was a sequel to Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen. Ignoring the tweaks and fresh additions, it’s a game that feels as if it was ahead of its time.

Not least of which is its labyrinth narrative. It’s liberal on the political intrigue and feels mature: a rarity, even today in an age where the average gamer is apparently an adult. It can be a bit of a challenge to follow, with its various factions and the visual style is at odds with the dark theme of the story, but for those that manage to keep up with all the happenings, it’s a highlight that is further bolstered by its strong translation work.

There's multiplayer, though sadly it's limited and brings little of note to the game.

Despite originally being a mid 90’s release, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together possesses a narrative that on occasion can, through the choices you make, branch to different paths, which, believe it or not, is not a contemporary addition to this remake. In a touch that will be welcome to those that feel as if they have missed plot points and want to see everything that the story has to offer without having to replay the game, you’re able to return to the segments that you make choices to choose another to realign the narrative direction.

The combat never quite had the same forward thinking in the original version of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together as the story did. Mechanically it’s a fairly vanilla strategy RPG, lacking the complexity and ludicrously sky high numerical values that NIS first brought to the genre with Disgaea.

Your battle party can consist of up to 12 units and your job is to shift them around the battlefield, where they can go to work most effectively – sending frontline units, such as warriors and knights right into the thick of things, whilst keeping clerics, archers and mages behind to support their advance. Turn order is determined by speed, whilst attacking enemies from their side or rear will incur more damage and victory is most often achieved through the defeat of all enemy units, or simply by taking out their leader, should you be able to reach him or her.

It might very well be as mundane as they come, but the formula is executed excellently, with a level of challenge that rewards efficient strategic play, but can be highly punishing for a single error in judgement.

If you do happen to make a catastrophic tactical move, it doesn’t always mean the end of the world with the Chariot Tarot. It’s a clever little mechanic that remembers the last 50 manoeuvres that occurred in any given battle, allowing you to rewind time to alter your tactics accordingly, moving a badly placed unit out of harm’s way for instance. You can shift between both the new tactics and the original choices. Purists won’t like the feature, though it’s completely optional, and never feels forced upon you, but is useful to learn from your mistakes.

Individual units don’t only level up during a battle; instead each class has their own levels, allowing you, just as long as you have been making use of other units of their respective class, to bring new units into battle, without ever feeling that they’re woefully under powered in comparison to the rest of your favourite units and, in turn, never having to grind to oblivion to get him or her fighting fit.

All the narrative that you have experienced is thankfully stored, giving you some chance of keeing up with it.

This isn’t to say however that there is no reward for focussing on individuals, as any unit that participates in battle will earn SP at the conclusion of that fight, provided you’re victorious. SP can then be used to purchase new skills and enhancements, such as additional schools of magic for magic users or an increase in physical attack strength for the more physically reliant units. Given all the skills on offer as well as equipment, and crafting equipment and such, it’s a game where you could easily spend almost as much time preparing for battle as you do actually battling.

Each unit can only be knocked out a limited amount of times before they’re killed, but far from being the major problem of other games – living units of the same class can inherit their skills, it’s still strangely heartbreaking losing a loyal warrior that has served you well through numerous battles though.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is a remake that has been given the loving attention it deserves, with tweaks and sensible new additions that easily results in the definitive rendition of the beloved game. It also has all the intricacy and strategic possibilities that many genre devotees seek, that, in conjunction with a wonderfully written and branching story, makes for a game that is amongst the best that the genre has to offer.