By Josh Speer / September 5th, 2017
The Indie Megabooth is always a haven for unexpected wonders, and Children of Zodiarcs is no exception. I admit to not knowing much about the project in advance. I pretty much looked at the list of games at the Megabooth, checked out the premise and art style, and if I liked either, I made an appointment. Turns out it’s a good thing I did, since I rather enjoyed my time with Children of Zodiarcs.
Crowdfunded by Cardboard Utopia and published via the Square Enix Collective, Zodiarcs is a tactical RPG with both complex and very streamlined gameplay systems. It plays out similar to games like Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics, in that there’s a grid that shows where your characters can move, the range of their attacks, etc. But that similarity is where things end. Once you select any action, you pick from a deck of cards which represent that characters’ skills. Cards are not only tailored around the character’s playstyle, but reflect their personality. For example, there was one character when I played who is a fierce magical brawler that has a vampiric side. While she is strong naturally, she’s stronger when low on health, and accordingly has some sweet health draining attacks.
Once an attack is selected, you roll a handful of die with your joystick to affect the strength of the attack, as well as influencing other factors. For example, if you roll a lightning bolt symbol, you’ll be allowed to attack once more in sequence. If you roll a heart, you’ll get more health or if you roll a card symbol, your character will draw more cards from their personal deck. It sounds complex, and though it is, I found it very intuitive once I got going. Another nice feature is that the dice and cards in your deck affect how your character counters enemy assaults. The game does a good job of balancing complexity with ease of understanding. An example of this is building your Decks. While you can spend painstaking time mixing and matching cards into your deck (of which there is only a minimum deck size amount, not a maximum), there is also a feature where the game recommends a suitable deck for you. Granted, hardcore gamers will make decks with their own sweat and blood, but it’s nice that less experienced gamers have that option.
Children of Zodiarcs features a delightful quasi chibi art style that is both easy on the eyes as well as expressive. It’s reminiscent of Fire Emblem: Awakening, but with a style all its own. While it’s true that the game is already out on PS4, it is also slated to release on Steam, and hopefully other consoles as well. I know I had a blast with Zodiarcs, and hope that Cardboard Utopia can keep building on this wonderful adventure. Who knows, maybe if it does well, we can get a sequel or expansions? Either way, stay tuned to oprainfall for future news on Children of Zodiarcs.
Cardboard UtopiacardsChildren of ZodiarcsdiceIndieSquare-Enix CollectiveTactical RPG