Tactics Ogre: Reborn Review

Tactics Ogre: Reborn

Tactics Ogre: Reborn is based on Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together; a Super Famicom strategy RPG that is often held in extremely high regard for many reasons. Its complex job system and party building offered endless customization, and the strategic battles were as deep as the Mariana Trench.

Before there were Final Fantasy Tactics, there was the Ogre Battle Saga; a series of strategy RPGs made by Quest. Yasumi Matsuno was largely responsible for its game design and he was so talented that Hironobu Sakaguchi personally headhunted him to leave Quest and join Squaresoft.

Fittingly, Quest was eventually acquired by Square Enix and with the Ogre Battle games in its stables, Let Us Cling Together would get an enhanced PSP remake. It is time for Tactics Ogre to get another re-release and with Yasumi Matsuno’s involvement; this new revision promises to be the most refined and improved iteration yet. Find out how in this Tactics Ogre: Reborn review!

This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review or read the full review of the below:

Tactics Ogre: Reborn
Developer: Square Enix, Quest
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Super Famicom (as Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together), PlayStation (as Tactics Ogre), PlayStation Portable (as Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together), Sega Saturn (as Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together), Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
Release Date: November 11, 2022 (initial release date: October 6, 1995)
Players: 1
Price: $49.99 USD

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Starting our review off, fans of Final Fantasy Tactics will find that there is a lot of overlap with Tactics Ogre: Reborn.

The similiarities are not just in strategy RPG gameplay, but in the story too. Like its PlayStation spiritual successor, the narrative centers on several elite families and their machinations to seize the throne. If you played Final Fantasy Tactics, be prepared to be hit with overwhelming familiarity.

Tactics Ogre did come first and seeing how many of the ideas Matsuno was experimenting with this early shows how mature and confident his ideas remain, and have stood the test of time. There are a lot of characters and every single one of them is complex and conflicted.

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What makes Tactics Ogre: Reborn‘s story special is how the player can affect it with their choices. Matsuno’s stories tend to revolve around elites fighting for power and the player assumes the role of an idealistic youth.

The situation is never black or white and events unfold where you aren’t going to have all the information on your first play. Whenever Denam, the low-born and humble protagonist interacts with these esteemed dignitaries, there is always tension in the scene.

It always feels like characters speak in layers and everyone is not always forthcoming. Class warfare is one of the main pillars of Tactics Ogre: Reborn and it is executed with flawless panache and maturity.

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When Denam interacts with other warriors, the atmosphere of the scenes feels like their conflict is inevitable. Nobody wants to fight, but they must because of a very real shadowy cabal pulling the strings from behind the scenes.

Tactics Ogre: Reborn‘s story is a timeless tale that applies today as well as it did thousands of years ago. As the web of political intrigue becomes more elaborate, the player will be faced with stark, game-changing choices. Denam will be pushed to make unfathomable sacrifices or choose a side that may conflict with the player’s morals. No matter the route, it’s always a fundamentally different experience.

Players will travel to completely other sides of the world and experience different scenes that they might not have depending on their actions. This makes Tactics Ogre: Reborn feel very organic and alive in a way most games end up feeling mechanical.

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Depending on the player’s decisions in key story points, the plot can go in a different direction where foes become friends and vice versa. Entire party members can get locked out and if some guest party members fall in battle – that also can affect the story’s direction.

It is shocking how Tactics Ogre, a game that is much older than Final Fantasy Tactics, is the more advanced and deeper game. Whether Tactics Ogre: Reborn‘s story is greater or lesser than Final Fantasy Tactics‘ is a matter of preference.

One thing is for sure: there is no denying that Ogre‘s gameplay is far more complex. Most battles allow around 10 units and sometimes more. Each unit can be either player-created or a unique story-related character.

Regardless of what kind of characters gamers will fill their ranks- expect to agonize over every single one of them. The depth of the customization is seemingly infinite. Jobs have their unique innate talents that make each one useful. Every job class gets bespoke abilities and the abilities can be swapped around between class changes

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Expect to spend a lot of time in the party set-up menu and tinkering with all the possibilities, as well as planning for the future. Deciding how to further build a character and which abilities or gear to equip them with is a major pillar of the Tactics Ogre: Reborn experience.

The battles themselves play out in a grid-based field that resembles a miniature diorama. Unit turns are decided on a queue system and their speed stat. Want more turns? Then you better specialize in speed- efficiency as the true decider of victory. Classes like ninjas and kunoichis are unmatched in speed.

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There are countless variables to keep in mind when deploying a team. Factors like a character’s innate elements can affect how much damage they give or receive. Even the terrain of the environment can have consequences if you don’t pay attention.

Some abilities are automatically used after they are learned and are tied to an unseen dice roll. There are ways to tip the odds in your favor, and the newly added randomization introduces an extra element of excitement. These can vastly change the tide of battle and the randomly appearing cards on the field can further assist in the evening the odds for and against the player.

The kinds of weapons used on units and specific classes matter as well, so gamers must have a varied party or some for backup. You never know when a party of heavily armored knights want to do battle and nobody has any blunt weapons to smash through their plate mail.

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As Tactics Ogre: Reborn unfolds, it only gets deeper the more you play it. From its elaborate political thriller that is full of emotional characters to the endless intricacies of the gameplay; you will be hard-pressed to find a finer example of its kind.

The music is top form for Hitoshi Sakamoto. Even this early in his career, he displays complete mastery and confidence in his style. Tactics Ogre: Reborn‘s score feels almost cinematic.

It has some hints of Jerry Goldsmith and the way the music blends into the scene utterly heightens the emotions in the battles. There is almost tragic poetry to it all.

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Tactics Ogre: Reborn‘s visuals are based on the PSP remake. The environments are 3D and have cute chunky pixel art textures applied to the geometry. It is a timeless style that flawlessly fits tactical gameplay and makes every space readable.

It is too bad that the character sprites have not been updated. For the most part, the sprites resemble the same ones used since the Super Famicom, but with a higher density of pixel gradients. They are very small and stubby, and there isn’t enough range for these little guys to express much body language.

Complete redraws like the ones done in Live A Live would have been preferred. Tactics Ogre: Reborn‘s story really could have benefitted from improved sprites, because now the voice acting has to carry the scenes when drama intensifies.

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If you’re a Final Fantasy Tactics fan, you owe it to yourself to play Tactics Ogre: Reborn. If you are a Tactics Ogre veteran from the Super Famicom or PSP, you are going to get a unique experience since the entire game has been rebalanced and tweaked so much that it’s a different experience.

Many changes were done to improve worthless classes and to make battles fairer. The union-level mechanic is to prevent over-grinding, battles are no longer random and money is harder to acquire. Sadly, the rogue class is no longer obtainable since its abilities have been spread around to other classes.

Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a perfect strategy RPG. It mostly improves upon the original, though it is sad that there isn’t an original mode so players can experience how the game used to be. The sprites won’t impress, but after dumping over a 100 hours into pouring so much attention into building these characters, you will hardly care.

Tactics Ogre: Reborn was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by Square Enix. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Tactics Ogre: Reborn is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.

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