The Diofield Chronicle Review
The Diofield Chronicle is a strategy JRPG from Square Enix that gave me strong Final Fantasy Tactics vibes when the original trailer dropped during a previous PlayStation State of Play showcase. With the release of other similar games earlier this year, including Triangle Strategy, I was optimistic that this sub-genre would see its imminent rise once again.
In the game, you follow the exploits of Andrias Rhondarson and his band of mercenaries, The Blue Foxes, as they change the course of history in the war-torn Kingdom of Alletain. Defending their country against the Trovelt-Schoevian empire, the Blue Foxes will take all the help that they can get to thwart this massive invasion, even relying on ancient magicks to aid their cause.
Upon playing the demo just last month, The Diofield Chronicle was quick to impress. Considering that the genre really hasn’t improved much in recent memory, the most innovation was last seen in Valkyria Chronicles in 2008 when it implemented action elements to make it close to what the XCOM series has done.
Removing the turn-based chessboard movement was a game changer for the genre. By doing so, the players now enjoy freedom of movement between units for that much-needed strategy element. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the traditional movement of Final Fantasy Tactics and similar games, but moving on to a more real-time strategy paradigm provides a fresh new take.
The Diofield Chronicle introduces four main classes, each with their own leader: infantry led by Andrias; cavalry led by his childhood friend Fredret; sharpshooters led by an errant knight, Iscarion; and magickers led by Waltaquin, a noble magician.
As with similar titles, each unit has its own skills and different strategic capabilities. Infantry units can use stealth to ambush and can also interrupt with a shield bash, while Cavalry units can break through enemy ranks with sheer physical power. Ranged and Magick units can focus on Overwatch and Area of Effect skills to clear the board of enemy forces while also providing much-needed backup to heal and buff units.
As your army grows in number, you can expand on the units with customization through your Militia ranks, allowing for an expanded strategy for every scenario. It allows you to customize your team and build the proper army for every given scenario. The practice map, which usually serves as a way to grind your units, also allows you to play-test your builds.
The Diofield Chronicle put a lot of thought into the strategy aspect, making it really stand out as its best feature… At least for the first two chapters.
As we progress through the game, everything else sadly descends in a downward spiral through uninspired designs that made the game quite bland and basic.
Rinse and Repeat
Where it counts, The Diofield Chronicle does a good job. With its combat, strategy, and unit balance, the game is a solid outing from the developers. However, the rest of the game falls short and did not motivate me to move forward with the story despite wanting to play more of the combat scenarios.
With a long-winded first chapter, the story aspect of the game seemed relatively low effort. When compared to Triangle Strategy, which shows the personal stakes of the main characters through its many side stories and branching storylines, The Diofield Chronicle felt like a copy-paste job of The War of the Lions without the emotional draw.
So much of the plot is expository, down to the dialogue between the characters. We’re reminded constantly that there’s a war going on, but I don’t feel convinced that there is one. While the same critique falls on Triangle Strategy, the political intrigue that befell its characters was a strong presence throughout.
The Diofield Chronicle places much focus on its many campaigns, but the main characters are left behind due to their lousy writing, keeping players from making an emotional connection with them and with the game.
It also doesn’t help that the visuals are a bit on the safe side, looking quite dull and uninspired, not taking advantage of recent technology. The whole game feels like something you could be playing on a 3DS rather than utilizing the power of a current-gen system.
You’re given a base of operations to deal with in The Diofield Chronicle, but besides moving around in it to progress your story, it doesn’t quite have the same feeling of home seen in similar titles such as Fire Emblem: Three Houses and the Suikoden series.
Outside of the main campaigns, customization of characters, and the basic side quests, there really isn’t anything else to do but power through the 40-hour campaign. While there are competent and interesting main battles, there’s not a lot of motivation elsewhere. On top of the fact that the game is also needlessly grindy, The Diofield Chronicle slightly disappoints, especially since it shows glimpses of promise.
What We Liked:
- Free movement provides a level of real-time strategy
- Unit diversity is excellent, allowing for strategic battles
- Customization system is robust
What We Didn’t Like:
- A basic story that takes a while to get going
- Battles in the later chapters don’t introduce anything new
- Uninspired visuals and presentation
- Lack of emotional connection with the characters
Verdict: Wait For It…
The Diofield Chronicle excels with fantastic strategic elements that give a fresh take on the genre. The game moves away from the traditional turn-based chessboard movement system and allows for a deep real-time strategy involving a diverse unit customization system.
However, The Diofield Chronicle fails to deliver a solid overall experience because of its basic plot, bland visuals, and lack of engaging side activities. Players don’t have a reason to get attached to the characters and the story, making the playthrough a tedious one.
The game certainly shows promise, and it looks like the developers have a solid framework they can work on here, making us look forward to what the next iteration of The Diofield Chronicle will look like.
*The Diofield Chronicle was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.