Also On: PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix / Lancarse Ltd
2022 has been a pretty hefty year for RPG?s, and the back half of this year hasn?t slowed down in that regard. Case in point, I?ve just recently finished playing through Square Enix and Lancarse Ltd.?s latest strategy RPG The DioField Chronicle, which eschews grid-based combat seen in recent titles like Triangle Strategy, in favor of a more fast-paced, real-time combat system that helps make The DioField Chronicle feel a little more unique. It?s still a game that borrows elements from the genre that spawned it, and oft-times falls short in different ways, but I still found myself enjoying the 30 or so hours I spent with it.
The story trappings of The DioField Chronicle are full of standard modern fantasy tropes that definitely feel inspired by the political maneuverings popularized by Game of Thrones and other media. This isn?t necessarily bad in and of itself, but The DioField Chronicle doesn?t quite manage to nail the intrigue or writing necessary to make the story feel compelling or interesting, and oftentimes gets bogged down in brief, narrated versions of world events that fail to make the player understand the impact or importance of certain in-game events. The English voiceover work is solid throughout, but there are some flat and just weird line deliveries that don?t always stick the landing, which is again hampered by some less than stellar dialogue overall. It?s certainly not the worst RPG story out there, but you?ll find your attention waning as you advance through the 7 main story chapters in The DioField Chronicle.
Thankfully, the combat in The DioField Chronicle helps make up for some of the spots where the story is lacking. Most battles are fairly brisk, with most giving bonus rewards for being completed in under 6 to 8 minutes. And there are quite a few battles to be had, with a number of main story fights for each chapter accompanied by a handful of side missions for every chapter. You?ll have direct control over movement and actions for your 4 main party members (with 4 back-ups that lend additional abilities to your party) and you?ll move around the map simultaneously with enemy units. You can pause the action to initiate abilities or target enemies, and it?s easy enough to zoom out and review the battlefield when necessary. While the combat isn?t deep, there?s no elevated terrain or terrain penalties for instance, it?s still a brisk, enjoyable experience that keeps you engaged throughout each fight. The DioField Chronicle isn?t going to be the most difficult strategy RPG you play all year, but if you try to mainline the story and skip past some side content, you will likely find yourself underleveled at spots which in turn can make the game more difficult.
Another aspect of the battle system I enjoyed is how character skills and abilities interact, and it?s pretty clear you?re meant to use them in conjunction with one another in order to be successful. There?s a slight overreliance on stun abilities to interrupt telegraphed power attacks from enemies, but chaining together abilities that debuff and then critically hit enemies, or grouping up large numbers of enemies together to unleash hellish area of effect attacks is fun throughout.
The DioField Chronicle also features a number of upgrade paths for your party, giving you standard experience points for completing battles, which in turn will level your party members up and increase their base stats. Also, each party member belongs to one of four classes, with each class having its own skill tree that can level up your unique abilities. You?ll also earn points for each character that can increase core stats or unlock additional unique abilities, like increased damage against certain enemy types, or the ability to reduce cooldowns for that character or the entire party. You?ll never earn enough of these points in a single playthrough to unlock all of those unique character skills either, which means you need to put a little thought into what you?ll find valuable to use. I dug the idea that most of your special attacks come from the weapon you have equipped too, meaning you can sort of swap out party members at will without losing too much functionality, provided you have a weapon available to use that?ll grant that party member the skills you need.
As far as visuals and audio go, I didn?t see or hear a lot throughout the game to get excited about. Character models are a little plain, but it?s easy enough to tell them apart in battle which is good. The environments are a little drab, and feel kind of repetitive. I?d have loved to see a more variety in the battlefields overall. The DioField Chronicle?s soundtrack is also very repetitive, and you?ll likely grow tired of the main battle theme pretty quickly. Overall, the presentation feels a bit like it was hamstrung by a significant budget constraint, which is unfortunate considering it is a full price release.
Still, The DioField Chronicle is a game that I had little trouble sticking with throughout the review process, and could easily see myself going back to in order to finish up the few remaining trophies I have left. The fun gleaned from this strategy title is almost entirely due to the engaging battle system, which while a bit basic compared to other titles, is still a lot of fun to play. It?s not a game that I?d wholeheartedly suggest picking up at full price, but I?d certainly suggest giving it a go after a sale or two.
Note: Square Enix provided us with a The DioField Chronicle PS5 code for review purposes.