Remakes and remasters are one thing – well, more than one thing, we’ve seen plenty of them lately. What happens, though, when you remake a game’s remake? What if you’re playing a remake of a remake? How far into Remakeception can you descend? When we’ve remade a remade remake’s remake, do we risk awakening and angering a Great Old One, who will proceed to remake existence to their grim desires?
Let’s not worry too much about that. Instead, let’s talk about Tactics Ogre: Reborn, a remake of the PSP’s Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, itself a remake of the game of the same name on the Super Famicom. Do you guys hear something ancient stirring? Don’t worry about it.
The island nation of Valeria was once at peace, but has been shorn apart thanks to battles between a number of warring clans. This has led to the little people being crushed by the ravages of war…but some of those little people might not stay so little. Case in point: Denam Pavel and his sister Catiua, young members of the Wallister clan who seek revenge for the destruction of their home. This small mission eventually leads Denam and Catiua into events that will serve to shape the whole of Valeria. It might also teach them more about the world – and themselves – than they’d ever wanted to know. Revenge is one thing, but the real question is how one manages to maintain one’s principles in a time of war.
Tactics Ogre: Reborn has much in common with its cousin Final Fantasy Tactics. You’ll lead an army of fantastic characters – warriors, wizards, monsters and more – and take to the field of battle against rival armies to determine the fate of Valeria. You can add to your army by hiring mercenaries or convincing foes to switch allegiance mid-fight, then customize your soldiers by choosing their class, assigning spells and skills and equipping gear with various effects. One significant divergence from Final Fantasy Tactics is that there’s not a lot of interplay between class upgrades on a given character here, so you can’t exactly take a mage and convert them into a spell-slinging warrior. Your customization tends to focus on large-scale army compositions rather than tweaking individual soldiers precisely to your liking.
Another thing Final Fantasy Tactics fans are going to have to come to grips with is that this game is tough. Further, thanks to the new level-cap mechanic introduced in Reborn where your troops can’t exceed a certain level based on your story progress, you’re not going to be able to just grind your way past difficult battles. With boss maps in particular you’ll often be pitted against overwhelming numbers, each of whom have a level or two up on your own characters, and you’re going to have to figure out how to prevail regardless. This can be a recipe for frustration when the game doesn’t do a great job of explaining mechanics that might help you come out on top.
A hint: debuffing items from shops are cheap, readily available, work every time you try them and cause far, far more debilitating effects on enemies than you might expect. Give them a shot if you get stuck.
Either way, you’ll want to slog it out past the most difficult battles to keep up with Tactics Ogre: Reborn’s gorgeous story and presentation. It’s a beautiful game with great voice acting that adds a lot to the experience – and you can switch the voices from English to Japanese or back to suit you. What’s more, there’s a number of branching story paths that lead to significantly different outcomes and new battles besides, so there’s plenty to do and see.
When you’ve finished the game, you’re able to revert your progress and see how the other paths turn out, which is a fantastic touch. On top of all that, there are several extensive dungeons, including the particularly grueling 100-floor Palace of the Dead that’ll push your stamina and tactical acumen to the limit.
Strategy fans who are willing to deal with some pretty nasty difficulty spikes are bound to have a good time with Tactics Ogre: Reborn. That tasty sense of triumph when you conquer a map that seemed unwinnable is hard to beat, after all, and you’ll certainly want to see how Denam’s story pans out. Players looking for a direct and faithful rendition of the original versions of this game are going to be disappointed, but an open mind and a ton of patience can take you pretty far here. If not, well, the One Vision mod for the PSP version exists and is readily available, so either way you’d be well-served checking out this one in some fashion.