A licensed game made with lovers for tactical experiences in mind.
I would call my memories of the 1982 Jim Henson movie The Dark Crystal a bit hazy. I certainly like the dark tone of the movie as well as the amazing animatronics that gave the world life. While the finer points of the narrative are lost in time, it can't be denied how good of a movie it really is. Making a prequel television show seemed weird, but Netflix made it happen. They believe so much in this show that BonusXP and En Masse Entertainment are making a video game, simply called The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics. The result is a strategy game that feels familiar, but relishes in the unique touches of the show.
Unlike the Stranger Things 3 game also based on a Netflix property, Tactics feels like it’s made more with active video game players in mind. Like a Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics, players will move over a grid-based board and clear the field of various foes. The character order is decided by the attacks they do, what moves they want to build up and how they move about. The line of who gets to attack is fixed in that sense, forcing you to play your cards right. Age of Resistance Tactics can be extremely tricky, particularly when the moves come into play.
Anything you do, may that be attacking or defending, will be selected from a wheel. Through this manner, you can quickly highlight an ability and see what it does at a glance. Any major attack that you would want to do costs Magic Points, which will drain faster than you think. The Scout class, for example, can use a Momentum Strike. This will double the damage of a move if you moved four spaces and have 4 MP to spare. You have to realize that Scouts, mostly in the beginning, have a limited amount of points. After you do this move, you will be forced to keep it basic or meditate constantly to get your magic options back. There are many little things to consider, which I sincerely like.
In addition to the Scout, which can explore a huge number of spaces at once, there are other classes to choose from. The Bowmaster specializes in marking opponents, allowing you to do more damage. Naturally, they can also shoot from afar and destroy across gaps or from high above. The standard Arrow Shot even does a solid amount of damage, making them a great worker. That being said, the Guardians are likely the best when it comes to physical damage. They will strike hard with basic moves, but if the Bowmaster could have the pleasure of marking them, you will truly get a spectacle. There is plenty more where that came from, including full on magic users that can use fire balls. Characters can swap classes and learn skills that are best for the situation at hand. I got time to make my team the way I wanted, which is absolute insanity.
The environments are beautiful, but they aren't just for show. You will go through the five different worlds of the TV series and see very different land structures along the way. From an early point in the game, you have to climb parts of the environment for success against your foes. By being above them, your abilities a lot more powerful, resulting in their quick demise. The missions I played showcased by how these mechanics make an impact and forced me rethink some strategies along the way. While I'm not sure this will count for all maps, I'm certainly stoked to find out for myself. The world of Thra is sharp looking, but the dangers up ahead are just as sharp.
When speaking to the publisher and developer, it is clear that they are taking their time with The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics. With roughly 80 missions and 15 character classes in the game, they are doing a lot of tweaking and balancing at the moment. The characters can each carry unique gear, work on two jobs at the same time and must be constantly upgradable. The developers are also adding a New Game+ mode where all the battles in the campaign get remixed, and become harder versions of themselves. All of this makes me all the more curious for when the title eventually releases.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics is a unique strategy game in a sea full of them. By using the Jim Henson characters to their fullest, they are trying to make a game that features everything you would want. Besides that, the game was extremely fun to play. The movement and selection of moves felt snappy, and the maps could be completed within a fine time frame. It remains to be seen how the later assignments play out, but the first reaction is solely a positive one.