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Tactics Ogre: Reborn review: Exceptionally repolished strategy

Tactics Ogre: Reborn takes the 1995 classic strategy RPG and spruces it up with improved visuals, music, voices, and quality-of-life features.

Image via Square Enix
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Among RPGs and strategy, Tactics Ogre is legendary. The franchise has produced some of Square Enix’s most interesting gameplay and stories, not to mention having been the foundation on which other legendary titles like Final Fantasy Tactics was built. The original 1995 SNES game has seen one remake already, but only on the PSP. Now, Square Enix has brought it back again for modern consoles, as well as giving it a fresh can of polish that includes spruced-up visuals, re-arranged and remixed music, full voice acting, and a litany of quality-of-life gameplay features to make sure you enjoy the story and gameplay no matter your skill level.

A raging war reborn

For those who know, Tactics Ogre: Reborn is mostly a remaster of the 2010 PSP game, which was itself a remake of the original 1995 SNES game, Tactics Ogre. However, even this version contains some added features and polish over its 2010 predecessor. For those who don’t know, Tactics Ogre is, in many ways, a precursor to Final Fantasy Tactics. Players engage in a story that takes them from battlefield to battlefield, amassing characters and soldiers, growing them and expanding their abilities through attacks and new character classes, and pitting them against enemy armies in grid-mapped turn-based combat.

In a world where the king who led the land just died without heirs, a civil war has broken out between three major factions that would lay claim to leadership. Among them, you join in the story of Denam Pavel, his sister Catiua, and their friend Vyce as they lead a rebellion against the forces that killed their families. Along the way, you also gain the aid of foreign mercenaries led by a former holy knight known as Lanselot and his band. Throughout the game, you’ll also make all sorts of decisions in branching dialogue and battle locations that lead to very different outcomes, alliances, and enemies in the game.

As far as battle goes, Tactics Ogre: Reborn plays out much like Final Fantasy Tactics, in which you begin by playing a maximum amount of characters in a strategic orientation of your liking on the map. You and enemy forces then take turns per character moving, attacking, defending, and attempting to either wipe out the entire opposition or obtain a goal, such as defeating a leader among enemy forces. As your forces level up, you’ll be able to diversify them with various gear, weapons, and magic, as well as new classes that allow them to gain different skills and abilities. There’s a dizzying array of customization in your forces available as you figure out what suits your strategies best in battle.

A dragon unit about to make an attack in Tactics Ogre: Reborn's strategy gameplay.
Source: Square Enix

One of the best features of this remaster returns in a way that lets you see what decisions you didn’t make. At a certain point of the story, you unlock the Chariot Tarot feature, which lets you go back to branching paths in the story and make choices you didn’t make before to see where the story goes from there, complete with your party at their current level and gear. Where other RPGs would lock you on the path you’ve chosen, this lets you explore different paths that lead to the game’s multiple endings without having to start over or create multiple saves.

The Chariot Tarot takes an additional role in battle for this remaster. At any point, you can use it to go back to a previous turn in the battle before it played out and try new tactics and strategies. While this can be somewhat abused, it’s worth noting that in some battles, you only have limited use of it, so relying on it can be a double-edged sword. Nonetheless, it’s a good mulligan-like system that lets you fix your mistakes or try new things in combat.

The world map in Tactics Ogre: Reborn.
Source: Square Enix

I really like the multitude of features both new to Tactics Ogre: Reborn and returning from its 2010 PSP edition. For instance, your party members all level up equally as long as they take part in a battle, regardless of who accomplished what. That means getting new troops ready for your biggest battles is easier compared to other games like this. Unfortunately, you still have to include individual characters in battles for them to gain experience. Furthermore, between major story events you might have to grind practice fights to level your crew up to the state you need them to be at to win a story battle. Square Enix didn’t completely eliminate the grind.

This is especially true of classes in the game. There are quite a few upgraded classes in Tactics Ogre: Reborn which can only be obtained by drops from an enemy known as Classmarks. As one might expect, enemies don’t just drop good Classmarks generally, and some are even ultra-rare drops at that. Luck helps, but you may find yourself grinding a battle over and over again to obtain a particularly good Classmark if you want to turn one of your characters into a high-tier combatant.

An elegant art of war

Main Tactics Ogre: Reborn character Denam about to attack
Source: Square Enix

There are further new and returning features here in Tactics Ogre: Reborn. Dialogue is often fully voiced in English or Japanese throughout the game, as in the 2010 version. The quarter-turn view battlefields and sprites have also been polished to look more visually striking. Just as well, the music that accompanies it all has been re-arranged with orchestral scores and further tunes that are just beautiful top to bottom. I was never bored listening to the battle music in this game as I got swept up in the strategy of the fight. It’s gorgeous and I could enjoy it in or outside this game.

Other features such as the Warren Report return to provide you not only with an encyclopedic database of characters, settings, concepts, and features, but also playing a part in the game. There is information in the Warren Report that will unlock story events and battles that would otherwise be unobtainable. I’m not wild about content being locked behind frequently checking an in-game FAQ, but I can also appreciate that it plays a role beyond just reminding you of what things are.

The main menu of the Warren Report in Tactics Ogre: Reborn.
Source: Square Enix

That said, for all of these conveniences, if you want to chase challenges that will really put your tactics and team composition to the test, Tactics Ogre: Reborn has you covered there too. The game features a number of optional challenges, locations, and gauntlets that will force you to take on some of the most difficult fights in the game. This is up to and including a 100-level Palace of the Dead dungeon. You’ll want to make sure your squad is at the top of its game, but if you can get to the deepest depths, the rewards may be glorious.

Let fate and the gods guide your sword

Dame Ravness handing down words of wisdom in Tactics Ogre: Reborn.
Source: Square Enix

Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a treasure of both classic tactical RPG design and modern sensibilities. I really like the quality-of-life features that make it so much easier to play and stay on the path of the story without much padding. I can also appreciate that this game also contains some tough-as-nails challenges that take an incredible amount of dedication to overcome. In between all that, it’s also just a great story and I really appreciate the Chariot Tarot system allowing you to see the paths untaken at any point you desire. If you want a great tactical RPG, this is not only the forerunner to many favorites, it’s also well-polished for a new generation.


This review is based on a digital PlayStation 5 copy of the game supplied by the publisher. Tactics Ogre: Reborn comes out on PS4, PS5, PC, and Nintendo Switch on November 11, 2022.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

8
Pros
  • Solid story with plenty of interesting characters
  • Chariot Tarot rewinds story and battle at your leisure
  • Solid array of character classes to explore
  • Beautifully re-arranged and remixed soundtrack
  • Good spread of end-game and optional challenges
  • Tried and true turn-based tactical combat
  • All party members level up together in any combat
Cons
  • A lot of level grinding between major battles
  • High-tier classmarks can be very difficult to obtain
  • Some content is locked in the game's database
From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 10, 2022 3:00 AM

    TJ Denzer posted a new article, Tactics Ogre: Reborn review: Exceptionally repolished strategy

    • reply
      November 10, 2022 4:24 AM

      Nice!

    • reply
      November 10, 2022 4:54 AM

      Hmmmm

      • reply
        November 10, 2022 6:49 AM

        No, milleh!

        You need to get your money's worth with at least 200 hours of MW2

          • reply
            November 10, 2022 6:57 AM

            I have listened to the Final Fantasy Tactics soundtrack a few times despite only playing the opening way back when. I want to play it now but I only have Final Fantasy Tactics on the GBA and it is a completely different game.

            • reply
              November 10, 2022 6:58 AM

              I've never played any of them!

              • reply
                November 10, 2022 7:01 AM

                me neither. I always bounce off after the tutorial missions.

                • reply
                  November 10, 2022 9:59 AM

                  One thing I really liked about this one is that the tutorial is weaved into the first battles. It's a little heavy handed, but it goes right alongside the story, so it's less reading and doing multitudes of practice battles and more, "we're fighting for our lives here, so here's how to do this." I liked that.

              • reply
                November 10, 2022 12:19 PM

                YYoure in for a treat. Final fantasy tactics and Tactics ogre are some two of the best strategy games of all time. Fantastic

            • reply
              November 10, 2022 7:22 AM

              FFT:A was amazing. I played that so much, it was one of those games I didn't want to finish the story because I didn't want things to end.

            • reply
              November 10, 2022 7:40 AM

              The lion war version is on iOS and is a decent port.

      • reply
        November 10, 2022 10:59 AM

        It's only one of the best games in its genre. Do it. Give in!

    • reply
      November 10, 2022 7:27 AM

      I'm totally down but not for $50, I already own this game on PSP

    • reply
      November 10, 2022 10:43 AM

      I've only played two TRPGsn, FFT and Jeanne D'Arc, never played a Tactics Ogre game. I'm kinda in the mood for something like this now

      • reply
        November 10, 2022 10:58 AM

        If you've played FFT, Tactics Ogre is like meeting FFT's father. You can see a lot of what would come to be part of FFT in TO, but there's enough different about it that it doesn't feel like a rehash.

        A big part of TO's appeal (especially with the added option to rewind/jump timelines) is that you can make some major choices that change the story, characters that join, people that die, etc. and play through the game several times to see all the permutations.

    • reply
      November 10, 2022 11:53 AM

      GMG has 20% off select RPGS, which can be applied to TO:R

      https://www.greenmangaming.com/xp-offers/gold-offers/

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