Telepath Tactics Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Telepath Tactics Review



Telepath Tactics wears its influences boldly on the sleeve. It draws inspiration from games such as Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics. Borrowing mechanics almost directly from its predecessors, Telepath Tactics is a smart update and greater than a simple imitation of the games that came before it. Unfortunately, technical glitches, an unfriendly interface and poor enemy A.I. sometimes makes the game frustratingly fall short of the heights of some of its predecessors.

Emma and Sabrina Strider, two human teenagers, were raised and trained in combat from a young age by strange lizardmen for an unknown purpose. The pair decide to abandon their training and search the countryside for their long-lost father – the beginning of a long journey of fighting bandits and outlaws as well as some more interesting enemies down the road. The sisters are the focal point of the story, although other side narratives do pop up every once in a while that develop alongside the sisters’ journey. Additional characters join your party in a manner akin to Fire Emblem. They can be acquired through the progression of the story or by having either Emma or Sabrina talk with a potential party member during a combat encounter. None of the side characters feel as defined as the Striders and have little to no apparent impact on the story. Occasionally, the game will give you the opportunity to engage your party members in conversation after a combat encounter, however these conversations are often unrelated to the main story and feel redundant at best.

Fire Emblem is the root inspiration for the combat scenarios and mechanics of Telepath Tactics with a few neat exceptions. Everything functions on a tile-based system, during combat the two sides take turns traversing the tiles in various environments. Characters can move only a limited amount of tiles per turn and the direction a character is facing can be altered, which is a cool twist on the original combat formula. Facing factors directly into all characters’ ability to backstab, which naturally deals greatly increased damage to the recipient. This is a really cool system that really made me think and always consider the direction my characters are facing. Opposing forces were not afraid to teach me a harsh lesson of never turning my back to them, over and over again.

Armies are composed of many different units of various origins, strengths and weaknesses. There are the basic classes of axe-wielders, archers, knights and spell casters but there are also other powerful units that can join the ranks of playable characters. For example, the Lissit, the lizardmen who raised the Strider sisters, are a playable class with strong physical abilities that greatly increase the strength of your army. Before most encounters you are given the option to select a certain number of party members for the fight. Choosing the right characters with the right abilities is, of course, a priority. Enemy encounters quickly escalate and very early on large enemy armies are involved in the actual combat. After your party takes a turn the enemy army takes its turn and this usually takes too long. The speed of the character movements can be changed in the main menu but even on the fastest setting the enemy turn can take minutes and bores me to tears. As a further frustration much of the enemy army would oftentimes ignore the fighting altogether! Sometimes walking in circles or randomly attacking the environmental objects. The A.I. never felt smart; nearly every time a character died it felt like the result of my own fault rather than a consequence of the enemies’ intelligent actions.

Occasionally, Telepath Tactics feels like a diamond, albeit one in the rough. Everything except the combat lacks several layers of technical polish. All of the cut scenes appear in a very small letterboxed view at the bottom of the screen. At the time of writing this piece, there are no resolution options in the game, so it certainly is an annoying design choice. To make matters worse, transitions between the story scenes are almost nonexistent. It often felt like I was thrown from one place to another, jumping between conversations rather than being smoothly transitioned. In an instant the game will change from a calm night with my party members to the next day with loud and bombastic music and an unexplained call to action to fight an opposing force. The story isn’t incoherent because of this though. I found the world interesting and the story somewhat enjoyable. Yet, being constantly thrown around like this left me unattached to the game.

he music varies from a typical fantasy score to some fairly odd melodies. Much of the music outside of battles feels out of place and awkward in relation to the given story sequence. In particular, some background soundtrack that plays during interactions with other party members is an especially distracting mix of guitars and ghastly melodies. Furthermore, the spirit of carelessness the scene transitions were built in includes problems with music cues, as well – more often than not two songs will overlap when switching from one scene’s music to another.

Aside from the campaigns, local multiplayer arenas can be created with a great variety of modifiers. The combat really shines in multiplayer, especially in some of the smaller arenas. Replacing the A.I. with a human player tested my mettle in a way that most of the single player campaign could not. The majority of deaths in the single player felt like the result of accidents on my part, rather than feeling honestly outsmarted by the A.I. A stark contrast to the multiplayer which can feel like a chess match and is the most brilliant part of Telepath Tactics, adding quite a lot to the overall worth of the game.

Telepath Tactics is its predecessors in mind and body, but not in soul. There is an emptiness that is not filled by its competent combat and interesting world. Too often the combat becomes a long, boring campaign, hindered by the weak enemy A.I. and poor design choices. Technical bugs only complicate the roughness of the systems Telepath Tactics often rises above its faults to achieve something truly great in the depths of its combat systems, especially in multiplayer. Issues aside, this game is a solid entry for the given genre and a joy to play when its faults aren’t too overbearing.