Tactics Ogre: Reborn Review
For a good stretch of time nearly 30 years ago, RPG fans were feasting. Within a span of a few years, we got Final Fantasy VI (the GOAT, I’m not taking any comments), Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and much more. We also got Final Fantasy Tactics, and while hailed by many as one of the greats, it certainly overshadowed another great RPG of its time, Tactics Ogre.
Despite a 2011 remake for the PSP, the game never really gained the recognition it rightly deserved. Fast forward to 2022, and we finally get a widely released version that improves upon the previous installment in almost every way.
Tactics Ogre has been reborn, and what a time it is to be alive to witness and replay this classic.
As previously mentioned, Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a remake of the remade 2011 PSP release. The game tells the story of Denam of the Walister Clan, who now rises against oppression and has joined a resistance force that aims to stand tall against the current rulers. One thing leads to another, and this journey becomes one full of political and moral choices that form the heart of the game.
The themes in Tactics Ogre Reborn are quite heavy and will require tough choices that result in a different outcome that will dictate how the story flows and ends. Due to a branching narrative, the replay value of the game is extremely high, owing to some fantastic twists throughout the playthrough that will keep players hooked.
While a bit on the serious side, the story is anchored by a fantastic soundtrack and voiced performances that really bring the game to life, immersing the player in the ongoing proceedings that rarely lose the player thanks to its detailed tutorials and a gameplay system that is easier to manage thanks to some great quality of life changes.
One of the more obvious upgrades that Tactics Ogre Reborn brings to the table is in its visuals. Of course, when compared to its decade-old release, this installment looks fantastic, but when placed side by side with the many HD-2D releases that Square Enix has managed to release over the past couple of years, it definitely feels like a missed opportunity to not go down the same route. That’s not to say that this release looks bad, I personally find it ok but I can understand how others may not like it.
More than the visuals, the gameplay is where Tactics Ogre Reborn shines, offering a standard-fare turn-based tactical RPG that offers enough systems that old-school RPGs are known for, allowing for a decent amount of customization and depth for players to fully get lost in.
The Winds of Change
Tactics Ogre Reborn, being a remake, has been updated with a number of interesting changes that affect fundamental aspects of its previous iterations.
One of the biggest changes here which could be a talking point among purists is how permadeath is dealt with in this release. While some would argue that it gave the original its character, Tactics Ogre Reborn opts to change it up with a cooldown-based system that makes it more forgivable. It’s a welcome change that is appreciated, especially for a title as time-consuming as this one.
One other way this release shakes up the original is by employing a character-based leveling system as opposed to class-based, with levels carrying over. This is a big deal, as it allows players more freedom to customize at a fraction of the time, removing a lot of the unnecessary grind, and putting the focus on trying out new things but still leaving the depth of the combat system intact.
Another neat feature introduced is the Chariot Tarot, which allows players some sort of rewind mechanic during battle to take back a wrong choice. Again, it’s a conversation purists may not like, but it is merely a choice, and players may or may not use it to stay true to the experience.
Part of what makes Tactics Ogre Reborn such a great remake is the fact that not only are the obvious elements (audio and visual aspects) given an upgrade but the antiquated design decisions of old have been modernized as well. These changes have not been totally changed, but only tweaked to still provide a fun and engaging experience that respects the time and commitment poured into the game.
What we liked:
- Multiply quality-of-life upgrades that make the game more accessible
- Fantastic story paired with great audio and performances
- Meaty gameplay with good amount of replayability
What we didn’t like:
- Some aspects of the game show its age
- Some battles may take too long
Verdict: Buy it!
Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a fantastic way to experience the classic, with a number of quality-of-life upgrades that make the game respect your time and commitment to it. Its visuals may be a hit or miss, especially to the HD-2D-loving crowd, but the voiced performances really bring the game to life.
Hardcore fans of the series may not appreciate some of the changes made, but the game still keeps the same depth and strategic approach as before, offering a meaty package that can take over 50 hours to play through.
The game has indeed been reborn, and if you haven’t yet, now is a great time to see for yourself why old-school RPG fans hold this title in high regard.
*Tactics Ogre: Reborn was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.