Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together ReviewLouis Bedigian
They say that behind every great man is a great woman. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but I can tell you that behind every great strategy/RPG, gamers will find the Tactics Ogre series. It was an original, to be certain: a niche franchise built for a very specific kind of hardcore gamer. But thanks to the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics, Disgaea, Fire Emblem, Advance Wars and numerous others, this genre has slowly elevated itself above the niche status.
It does, however, still cater to hardcore players.
This is especially true for Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, a re-imagined chapter in the series. Built specifically for the PSP, Let Us Cling Together is rich, epic, and wholeheartedly addictive. It embodies the essence of the genre, creating an experience that is as captivating as it is memorable.
But "captivating" and "memorable" are just two of the game's core elements. There is also a third, one that might surprise diehard fans of the genre: Let Us Cling Together is not only challenging, but it is also one of the easiest strategy/RPGs to grasp.
The game starts with a handful of short, AI-assisted battles that require minimal effort from player. While this might sound like a copout, it was actually a very wise move for the developers to make. When attempting to play other strategy/RPGs for the first time, players are often met with an insurmountable difficulty that can only be overcome after hours of trial and error. In a game like Fire Emblem, this means you could permanently lose some important characters. In a game like Final Fantasy Tactics, it means that you may not be able to progress as quickly as you had hoped, thus delaying the progression of the story (which was half the reason people bought the game). But in Let Us Cling Together, players can kick back, follow the subtle tutorial, and slowly get the hang of what is ultimately a complex battle system.
Does this make Let Us Cling Together the best entry-level strategy/RPG available? Not necessarily. Newcomers could still be overwhelmed, just not right away. But it is without a doubt one of the most approachable strategy/RPGs ever made.
Within that approachability is a battle system that features seven primary classes: warrior, archer, wizard, cleric, rune fencer, knight and berserker. Each is an essential part of the game, though you won't have to worry about this right away. When the time comes to recruit new allies, you should make your party as diverse as possible while maintaining a balance of power. It wouldn't be smart to send your archer into a tough battle if his level is expected to be much lower than that of your enemies. Though he/she has the advantage of attacking from afar, your enemies will surely have the advantage of strength.
As with Final Fantasy Tactics, Square Enix's other big strategy/RPG, Let Us Cling Together contains a story that is developed with some of the best dialogue the genre has seen in years. While many of the characters have a similar (if not exact) appearance, make no mistake: mom wasn't wrong when she said that it is what's on the inside that counts. With this case, the trauma and turmoil is believable. You will not have a hard time connecting with the characters. Though you might be tempted to skip over some of the story sequences in order to get back to the gameplay, you would be better off listening to what the characters have to say. While their words may not impact your success on the battlefield, those who ignore the story will soon be faced with a painful decision: start the game over to revisit what was missed, or continue to the end with only a partial sense of this epic journey.
In any case, you may also be tempted to start over just for the music, which is deep and powerful. Let Us Cling Together may not contain a soundtrack that gamers will immediately want to import, but it is one they will enjoy and look forward to hearing while playing the game.
Compared to other handheld strategy/RPGs, the graphics are a tad primitive, though they certainly get the job done. Excluding the lack of clarity among allies and enemies (you'll have to scroll over to each character to determine if he or she is a threat), the sprite-based characters are wonderfully retro. Their designs and animations are as simple as those of an SNES RPG, which may disappoint gamers who were expecting polygons, but should provide a nice bit of nostalgia for everyone else.
With all of these elements combined, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is a grand-scale example of what a strategy/RPG should be. Those who love or merely like - the genre would be wise invest in this unforgettable release.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.