Some people prefer fast-paced real-time strategy titles like Starcraft 2, where choices have to be made on the fly and their impact on the battlefield is immediately obvious. Others, including me, prefer the deliberation of turn-based strategy, where you are given time to weigh the consequences of each decision so you can pick the most advantageous one – much like a game of chess.
To many turn-based strategy fans, the pinnacles of the genre were Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (originally for the SNES, with a PS1 port and a PSP overhaul) and Final Fantasy Tactics (a PS1 original which was remade for the PSP then ported to the iOS, iPhone, and iPad). Both are critically-acclaimed, and helmed by the same person – legendary videogame director Yasumi Matsuno.
So you can imagine my joy when I heard that Matsuno-san, character designer Akihiko Yoshida, composer Hitoshi Sakimoto, and translator Alexander O. Smith (all longtime friends and collaborators of Matsuno) had decided to team up with Playdek (a California-based indie videogame studio specializing in iOS board games and card games) and Christophe Boelinger (designer of the popular board games Dungeon Twister and Earth Reborn) to put forth Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians.
UNSUNG STORY'S CORE GAMEPLAY MECHANICS
Like Tactics Ogre and FF Tactics before it, Unsung Story will be a turn-based strategy title set in a fantasy world beset with warfare and political intrigue. Although it borrows established genre elements like battle maps with varying elevations and terrain types, customizeable unit abilities, craftable equipment, tameable monsters, and turn-taking based on unit speed, several things set it apart from the two:
- Instead of square tiles where minions occupy the center, units in Unsung Story will navigate the battlefield via triangle tiles, allowing for six-way movement along the intersections.
- It’s said that the player’s playable point-of-view will switch between different factions and time periods within the game’s setting, the Seventy-Seven Years’ War between the Alionne Kingdom and the Jheksal Empire. This approach is similar to SaGa Frontier 1 and 2 (experimental RPG titles developed by Square for the Playstation 1), but, to my knowledge, has never been used before in a Matsuno tactics game.
- Currently, 5 episodes, with 4-6 stages each, are planned at launch. Each episode will revolve around a different hero.
- The game will not feature Charge Time, a key gameplay mechanic in FF Tactics where certain spells and abilities required several turns to prepare for, necessitating careful enemy unit speed evaluations to ensure the attack would hit for maximum damage before the target could move away. In an interview with Matsuno (featured in Update 14 of Unsung Story’s Kickstarter page), he admitted that the only reason Charge Time was included at all in FF Tactics was to allow the Playstation 1 time to load the special effects graphics.
- I’m a fan of the mechanic, which I felt was evocative of the scouting necessary in real-world combat (gauging enemy strength and reading into troop maneuvers, giving the info needed to debilitate enemy assets while maximizing your gains and minimizing your losses), so this is a bit of a downer for me. Hopefully they’ll reconsider this.
- Instead of unique individual classes, the game will have Classes and Professions.
- There are 5 primary classes – Attackers, Defenders, Mages, Healers, and Tamers.
- The weapons a unit holds in each of its hands will determine its class and subclass.
- Each unit you control will come with a preset Profession. A unit’s Profession limits what weapons it can wield, and thus, what classes it can switch to (up to 3).
- Currently, 10 Professions have been planned for the game, with 6 already revealed (Clergy, Corporeal, Esoteric, Estate, Noble, Pioneer).
THE WORLD OF UNSUNG STORY
Unsung Story is set in the world of Rasfalia, beginning with the Jelamond Uprising up till the end of the Seventy-Seven Years’ War. There are three main powers all maneuvering for political gain and/or survival: the Jheksal Empire, led by Barvetha II, the Alionne Kingdom, ruled by Reksar VI, and the aristocracy-driven Jelamonea, a hotly-contested province sandwiched between the two.
Where the nobility are immortalized in Rasfalian historical records by the military might they wielded, the wealth they accumulated, and the territories they wrested control of, the true heroes, those who fight only to regain the normalcy of day-to-day struggle, remain unknown. They are the Unsung, the real guardians of this land, and these are their tales.
Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians will be available in English, Japanese, French, Italian, German, and Spanish, and is slated for simultaneous release on the PC, Mac, Linux, Windows Tablets, iOS, and Android platforms on July 2015. It will also be released for the PS4, PS Vita, and Nintendo 3DS if its Kickstarter stretch goals are met. It will feature both offline and online modes of play.
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