|Genre: Tactics/Strategy RPG - Platform: PC - Website|
Voidspire Tactics starts out with you designing and naming your four voiceless (apart from what's said via dialogue options) heroes and choosing from four different races and a variety of appearances. Each race has a small advantage in some area, but you're probably better off with a variety on your first time playing. It's cool to note that each race is decidedly different from typical fantasy-style games (no elves or dwarves); instead there are feathered lamias, faceless people who wear masks, and cat-people. The world itself also doesn't follow many of the typical clichés and reminds me of Cave Story in a lot of ways (probably because of the similarly whimsical writing style and the floating island bit).
I won't go too much into the game's story to avoid spoilers, but the gist is that early on, you and the chunk of land you're on get warped somewhere and you have to figure out why. Since you control largely voiceless protagonists, it's up to you to decide how you interact with other characters along the way, whether aggressively or with friendly curiosity. Honestly though, while you can avoid certain battles based on your choices (you often can choose to negotiate, fight, or bribe potential enemies), very few of the choices in cutscenes relevant to the story actually change anything. There isn't really that much twisting and turning in the story either and, though unique, it's pretty straightforward through most of the game. That said, there is a lot of optional backstory accessible through certain NPCs, books, and the fact that you can examine almost every object in the game to see a written journal entry about it. So while the actual plot isn't anything mindblowingly great, it's unique and well-written enough to be enjoyable. Honestly my biggest complaint about the plot was that the ending felt a bit short and unsatisfying, but then again, I don't know what else I would've asked for from it either.
As for the combat, this ain't no RPG Maker game. Voidspire Tactics was made on an original engine which was previously used in the developer's other (free) game, Depths of Boatmurdered. But though the game engine is technically the same, it's been updated a lot and is used in a totally different way to achieve that strategy RPG gameplay you know and love.
|A mid-game battle. (Click to enlarge)|
|Cool weapons like this Gurren Lagann reference I just noticed|
|Here are the moves unique to the Brawler class.|
Also, you can see what mastery levels you need to unlock the Spell Archon.
As for the technical details... Voidspire Tactics is not demanding on resources and should run on most computers. The graphics are certainly the game's weakest point and are pretty much in ye olde 32-bit style with some modern lighting effects thrown in. They're not bad, but they're not particularly unique or memorable either. I also had an issue with flickering seams between certain background tiles, but was able to fix this by changing the settings on my graphic card for the game. (Set Negative LOD Bias to "Clamp".) Both windowed (resizable) and full-screen modes are supported, as well as a color-adjusted color blind mode. The controls are remappable, but controllers aren't natively supported at this point. In general, the game uses a combination of mouse and keyboard, since you need the mouse to drag objects into your inventory or to another place. Because of that, it'd be pretty hard to map your own controller to use with this game unless you can emulate a mouse well. I also feel the need to note that, while uncommon, I did encounter a few seemingly random crashes, but since the game auto-saves whenever you enter a new area, it never cost me much progress at all.
|The art direction might not be so great overall, but I thought this wormy area was pretty cool. They actually wiggle!|
(Click to enlarge)
Oh yeah (part 2)! The game takes about 10 to 12 hours to beat, depending on how much you explore and if you get stuck, but with the few post-game unlockables and potential for speedrunning, I could see people wanting to do multiple playthroughs.
The Final Word:
Even without being a fan of the genre, I really enjoyed Voidspire Tactics because of the variety of ways that you can explore the world and win each battle. There are rewards for exploring around every corner and perfectly challenging battles for both noobs and veterans. The graphics and art direction aren't really anything special, but if you can look past that, there's a gem of a game here that's absolutely worth playing.
Disclaimer: The author of this review was one of the beta testers for Voidspire Tactics and knows the developer personally, but is pretty sure this hasn't clouded his judgement or biased the review in any way.
Perhaps you'd also be interested in checking out this other game by the same developer or something totally different.