The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics Review
Reviewed on Nintendo SwitchAlso available on Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One and PC
For readers who do not know what Dark Crystal is, it was originally a film made by the legendary Jim Henson in 1982. It released in an era where puppet fantasy films were big, films like Labyrinth starring David Bowie and Never Ending Story were very popular. I for one, remember watching them all as a kid and loving them dearly.
This tactical RPG closely follows the new Netflix series, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, which is a prequel to the aforementioned Jim Henson Movie. The new series still used puppets but also used CG, it was very well received by the general populace and long time fans alike. The fact this game follows the Netflix series so closely is both a blessing and a curse.
I say this because the fact it is so closely tied to the Netflix series gives the game a decent story to follow with a wealth of characters and locations to use. However, I found that throughout my time with the game that if you had not watched the series then some of the story would be hard to follow. The game often glosses over some of the narrative depth to move the game forward, unfortunately, to its detriment.
The story takes place in a world called Thra, where the humble Gelfling people discover that their long worshipped overlords, the Skeksis are not only exploiting them but putting the whole world of Thra in danger. You must unite the Gelfling clans, lead a rebellion and hopefully return Thra to peace and harmony.
Anyone who has played a strategic RPG in recent years will slip straight into The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance tactics, it gameplay systems and flow are immediately familiar. I love games like Disgaea and Final Fantasy Tactics, if anything The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics is too simplistic. It is still enjoyable, do not get me wrong but especially in the opening few hours, it seemed rather slow and basic.
As you progress, your characters level up and give you access to a wealth of new skills. It is all standard fare for this type of RPG. Where this game does differ though and what makes the latter part of the game better is the job system. Each unit fits into one of three classes, Soldier, Mender or Scout. Each of these gives the player access to skills from that job. However, after a bit of levelling, you can select a second job and pick two skills from that skill pool. There are even more nuanced versions of the above-stated jobs to explore and experiment with.
This creates some interesting combos, really opens up the tactical nuances of the game and really improves the battle system. That healer that did no damage you kept at the back of the field can now become efficient on the frontline. The game really starts to get tactical at this point and in a game based on tactical decisions, this is where the game starts to flourish.
Later on, as you start to unlock more skills, jobs and gain more units to use the game opens up and starts to become more enjoyable. Your tactics start to matter and I even like the way slight puzzle elements are littered through some of the games self-contained stages. Some levels require you to escape or save people or even use the environment to vanquish tougher foes.
Each stage in the game is self-contained and to start with, quite small. Later on though as your team expands, so do the stages. Later in the game, unit choices become more prominent too. A lot of the time the story demands certain characters are used but you are left to pick a few from your roster and picking the right tools for the job is vital to your success.
As with all RPG's, kitting out your squad with the latest gear is crucial. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics handles this in a no-nonsense very streamlined way. You get the odd bit of loot dropped throughout the missions you complete. However, most of your gear will be bought from the games store using pearls you accrue throughout your quests. While being very expensive, in my opinion, it does negate a lot of the faff of keeping your units up to date in the equipment department.
The combat system is exactly what you would expect from a game of this ilk. A grid-based, turn-based battle system that takes things like height and statuses into account when fighting. You move your units around a board, attack your enemies and use your powers to try and outmanoeuvre them. Using your units together, using their strengths and trying to neutralise their weaknesses will win you the battle. as will placing your units correctly on the battlefield.
Graphically, I really liked The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics, it has a nice art style that perfectly matches the series it is based on. Story segments are told through hand-drawn comic book style sequences and while I enjoyed them I feel more were required, especially for new players or people who have not watched the Netflix series.
Soundwise I was in two minds. I loved the music, it was epic, big and fitted the style of the game perfectly. I would have liked more voice acting though. Everything was text-based and while that is perfectly acceptable, I felt a bit of voice acting would have gone a long way to improve the games overall quality. On the subject of the text, I also thought a text size option would have helped the title too. Sometimes the text was a bit small, especially in some of the menus.
- Lovely Music.
- Becomes quite tactical later on.
- Graphically pretty in places.
- Story will be confusing for new players or people who have not watched the Netflix series.
- The text is sometimes a bit too small.
- Perhaps a bit simplistic for veterans of the genre.