Tactics Ogre: Reborn review for PlayStation, Switch, PC

Platform: PS5
Also On: PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Leaderboards

The Ogre Battle games are some of the best strategy games out there, and some of the hardest to find. The first game, released on the SNES in 1993 is one of the more difficult games to locate for the system, and it?s also one of the best. Two other games were released in the main series, Tactics Ogre on the PlayStation in 1995 and Ogre Battle 64 on, you guessed it? the N64 in 1999. All three games are amazing. Tactics Ogre on the PlayStation was remade on the PSP as Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, and now again on current systems as Tactics Ogre: Reborn.

Welcome to the Valerian Isles. There have been 50 years of peace. The Bakram, Galgastani and Wallister ethnic groups all enjoyed prosperity under the reign of King Oberyth. But, this was not to last. The king dies without a successor, and a fight ensues for control of the throne. Eventually the kingdom splits into two different nations. The Kingdom of Galgastan and the Bakram-Velarian Kingdom. The game begins in the Kingdom of Galgastan, where the Galgastani have decided to crush the Wallister race.

Chapter one opens with a group of Wallister resistance fighters; Denam (the main character), Vyce and Catiua in the small town of Golyat. They found out that a potential high value target was coming through the city. Once they attack, they find out that their target and his group aren?t who they thought they were. Instead, it turned out that they were a group of mercenaries looking for work. Denam hires them to help rescue a Wallister duke that has been captured by Galgastani forces.
The game is divided into multiple chapters. At the beginning of each chapter, Denam is given a choice, one of Law, Neutral or Chaos. Once a choice has been made, it will affect the story of the game until all the chapters meet up at the end of the game. There are even smaller choices to be made during the chapters that can affect the story, and each choice can have dire consequences. Some choices will kill off characters, some will prevent you from even meeting some characters. Once the game is completed, players can go back to any chapter choice and play the game forward from there.

Tactics Ogre: Reborn is very much a turn based tactical RPG. Fights happen on grids of squares that are larger than most games of it?s type. Each character on the field gets a turn, and can use their turn to move, use an action, and a skill, if they have enough magic points to use them. Magic points are gained every time a character activates. Some battles have specific objectives, like eliminate one particular unit on the field, and once that objective is reached, the fight ends in victory.

New units can be hired at towns and once they are hired they can be given a class with the use of Classmarks, which are items that allow you to change a character class. Be careful of using them too much as once they are used, you have to buy/find more in order to change to that class. The good news is once that class has been activated on a character, that character can start learning the skills and abilities of that class. If they change classes later, the abilities can stay with them as they switch between classes.

Tactics Ogre: Reborn?s most controversial decision comes from the elimination of random encounters and a hard level cap for the party. To level up characters, if needed, early in the game you can use the train option. This starts a training battle among your units and during a training fight your units cannot be killed, unlike a real battle. Once the training is complete, characters who engage in the battle gain experience. Once the level cap of the group is hit on that character, they can no longer level up. This is the way that players are going to need to level up characters that aren?t used as often.
In the previous versions of games, random encounters are the only way to gain some specific Classmarks. and now there are dungeons and temples you unlock. Once unlocked, players can use them as the replacements for random encounters to level up their characters.

Voice acting has been added to the game and amazingly it?s pretty good. Many times when voice acting is added to a game it feels like an afterthought and is terrible. Not so in Tactics Ogre: Reborn. Every character?s voice actor does a fantastic job of bringing their characters to life. The many hours of voice acting in the game is quite a feat to accomplish especially with the branching story. The music has been upgraded as well with a full orchestral soundtrack. The original soundtrack was completely amazing to begin with, and with the updated music it is even better! Graphics on the game where given a very nice polish, this was reviewed on the PS5 and I can safely say this game looks really good. The art has been updated along with the textures on the characters and environments and as a result the game has never looked better.

Overall, Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a fantastic game! As a fan that has played all three it?s hard to say which version I like best. I like the system changes made in Tactics Ogre: Reborn, simplifying removing skill points from the game and entirely relying on magic points in fights makes a lot more sense. The biggest problem with this version is removing random encounters from the game. While I understand the choice, they could have just added the level cap and possibly kept random encounters — which is something I enjoyed doing in other tactical RPGs such as Final Fantasy Tactics. Overall, I really enjoyed my time in Tactics Ogre: Reborn and look forward to many more hours with the game.

Note: Square Enix provided us with a Tactics Ogre: Reborn PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: A-