Tactical turn-based RPGs usually contain a heady mix of engrossing story and addictive gameplay, but only a handful manage to marry the two as spectacularly as, say,Fire Emblem: Awakening.
A good tactical RPG calls on tactical cunning and strategic insight, but the experience as a whole also rests on strong characters and situations.
Agetec’s Break Tactics is a valiant effort at something special, but it just can’t hold its own against the best the genre has to offer.
Commanding the fun
The neighbouring states of the Lancaster Empire and the Duchy of Meroving are embroiled in a bitter decade-long war set to destroy the entire continent. Break Tactics sees you picking a side and trying to get the better of the other guys.
You do this by taking part in skirmishes across small, pre-defined maps with the aim of wiping out the opposing side’s Commander. There's no need to do away with the entire force as a battle hinges solely upon Commanders.
This means that your commander also has to survive the battle.
Naturally, this entails striking a chess-like balance between offence and defence. It's certainly an interesting approach in terms of design, but one that gets tiresome quickly as all battles tend to play out the same.
Don't go alone
At the start of each battle you can deck out your army by purchasing troops with Break Points.
Break Points, which are earned through successful battles, allow you to hire (and subsequently upgrade) Infantry, horse-mounted Knights, Lancers, Archers, and later on Mages and airborne troops to boot.
This adds much-needed customisation and levelling-up options to Break Tactics's gameplay, as having stronger troops - with larger movement areas and more abilities per turn - really helps out the further in you delve.
However, you just can’t shake the feeling that other games do it far better.
Breaking down in tears
The SNES-like visuals also lose their retro charm rather quickly, making Break Tactics a slog to play through once the initial interest wanes and you realise that the tactics really just boil down to placing troops rather than managing their strengths and weaknesses.
That's not to say that each unit doesn't have its own Achilles's heel - it does - but you can cancel out these weaknesses prior to battle with a few upgrades.
And that characterises Break Tactics as a whole: you just really don’t have to worry about your decisions very much, making this a tactical RPG without much use for tactics.