Adding a Breath of Life into Card Games – Prodigy Tactics Review
Upon booting up Prodigy Tactics for the first time, it immediately gave me a card-game vibe. After completing its 30-minute tutorial, I can conclude that it IS a card-game, just with better visuals. You have your heroes, which are divided into different classes according to their role, and even further classified by their default element. The game has its unique names for these subcategories, giving it a strong sense of identity and an iconic aesthetic. Each hero also has their own effects, such as team buffs and enemy nerfs. Added with a 3×4 playing field where you can position your heroes for efficient executions, you got yourself a card-game with loaded with action-packed cutscenes.
But is that necessarily good? Let’s go a bit deeper into this Prodigy Tactics Review. As usual with my reviews, I’ll be starting with what I feel are the better qualities of the games and slowly work my way to the less-than-redeeming to bad ones.
Prodigy Tactics boasts attractive 3D models that play out fantastic combat cutscenes after finalizing commands. It is still, all-in-all very much that of a card-game. Despite conducting battles in 3D environments, your playing field is soon limited by a six-by-four grid split in half for you and your enemy. The game’s signature mechanic is a unique system of “Harmony” and “Dissonance” actions.
How it works is that each turn is divided into an “Attack” and “Defence” phase. The player alternates between these phases each turn, with the opponent commanding the opposite phase. To put simply, if I’m attacking, my opponent is defending. Attacks and Defences can be divided into two main elements, “Harmony” and “Dissonance”.“Dissonance” based actions are of higher magnitude. This means that you heal a higher amount of HP or inflict almost twice amount of damage. When it comes to defence, a dissonant defence prompts a counter strike against an attacking enemy. Dissonant actions come with the pay-off that one of your tiles on the six-by-four grid becomes tainted with “Dissonance”. The more “dissonant” your half of the grid is, the higher the chance that you trigger self-inflicting damage to your team. Harmonic actions, on the other hand, instead taint your tiles with “Harmony”, which are technically safe.
It gradually becomes more intricate
Harmony and Dissonance are the central focus when it comes to the core gameplay of P.T. The afflicted tiles also play a large role in this as Heroes’ have an expanded movelist depending on the tile they stand on. Standing on an afflicted tile expands the heroes’ movelists, allowing for a hero to have up to six different attacks with a variety of effects. This opens up a myriad of possibilities for handling the enemy, such as beating them with brute force or inflicting them with poison.
The battling system is all very intricate and has quite the layer of depth to it. It can be a bit confusing at first, but the game provides a very in-depth tutorial system that will bring players up to speed in no time. I personally finished the tutorial section in 30 minutes with a solid understanding of the fundamentals.
There’s also a lot you can discover on your own. I found a few moves that would damage enemies that are conveniently lined up, but also required my to strategically place Harmonic and Dissonant tiles around my playing field. The tile altering is random, hence, requires you to improvise to set up and take out multiple enemies at once.
The game comes with four main modes. It has singleplayer content in the form of a nine chapter tutorial and a campaign. The tutorial was really helpful in helping me to understand the game mechanics, as well as introduced playable characters in a nice pace. It forces the player through a step-by-step playthrough which explains the mechanics of the game, but usually allows the player to finish the level once they’ve been introduced to a specific mechanic.
The singleplayer campaign becomes a grey area to review, mainly due to the fact I was unable to progress through it. I managed to play four or five chapters however, which took me over two hours to complete. What I can say from these two hours, however, is that it’s not really good. Granted, you can’t expect full voice acting for a $20 game, but the sheer amount of static text the campaign throws at you makes it extremely boring. They even convey physical happening events through text!
Character dialogue scenes are slightly better. Though still similar to a visual novel, the dynamic presentation of dialogue between characters makes it slightly more bearable. Upon completing the tutorial, you’d have unlocked an array of characters that you can use and level up for multiplayer. You can practise them in the survival mode that is conveniently chucked into the game. Here, you face wave after wave of enemies where you can familiarize yourself with each characters’ unique traits. Again, I never managed to get far into this mode, as the game would, again, frequently crash.
Multiplayer has two modes, the upcoming ranked, and the currently playable unranked. When I say playable, I mean you can click on the mode. I can’t guarantee you’ll get a match however, as I personally tried waiting two hours to get into a match. Luckily, you have the option of playing the singleplayer content while waiting, which is a dandy feature.
Prodigy Tactics boasts a very authentic artsyle, showcasing attractive and diverse character models with charming animations. While it has its own set of species, most of them are stereotyped off of other mythical creatures that are already well established in mythical lore. This isn’t wrong, as the animations of each character make up for it. What does hinder this however, is the lack of interesting environmental settings.
Now this is a tad of a nit-pick from me as these environments are rendered good enough and have no significant effect on the turn-based gameplay, but considering that the core aspect of the game isn’t all that engaging, it would be nice to have more to look at.
Despite all its charm and fun combat system, there is so much that holds P.T. from being great. The main menu is a straight-up underwhelming disappointment. The first time I opened it the sub-menus were just labelled with random glyphs with no text. This meant I had to click and enter a mode to find out which glyphs stood for training, single-player, etc.
It was rather annoying especially when the game would frequently crash on me mid-match. The recent patch fixed the menu text issue by adding actual words, but crashes still seemed frequent. In fact, there’s not much I can say about this game due to my incapability to play it. Certain bosses in the story mode will prompt the game to crash, hence disallowing me to progress through the campaign. Playing too long in survival, or even any mode now that I think about it, will eventually lead the game to crash.
Granted, the game is only $20 in retail, but just because it’s not a $60 game, should it really be as buggy as this? A bonus note, the graphics options are extremely limited. You only get the option to change the resolution and whether to play the game in fullscreen or windowed.
That darned UI
Another issue I had with the campaign is the discoverable overworld. It may be due to the fact I could not progress far, but the map is extremely tiny! Even the slightest traversals led to a significant travelled distance on the map UI. Speaking of UI, Prodigy Tactics probably has the worst I’ve ever encountered. Shortcuts are minimal, forcing you to navigate your mouse a lot to access features and information. For instance, once you’re done looking at your map, “Esc” doesn’t quit you out of the sub-menu. You have to manually navigate and click your way out. It may seem like a small fluke, but having to repeatedly do it over and over again can really be uncomfortable. Oh, did I mention that they don’t have a mini-map or even a quest compass on display? Due to this, you’ll be clicking away A LOT more than necessary.
Prodigy Tactics is sadly a fun game. Exploiting the knowledge of the game’s deep mechanics against waves of enemies is extremely gratifying. Its cast of characters are interesting, perhaps even more so than the campaign’s plot. Why do I say sadly? Because it’s just riddled down to the core in game-crashing glitches. I never really got to experience all that the game had to offer, which is a shame as I really do enjoy the game mechanics. Trying out different types of attacks to prompt different combat cutscenes is always a joy to look at, and even if got boring, I could just double-click to speed through the scene. Setting up and crashing enemies for a multi-kill shot also brought a great sense of fun, before they’d take revenge by crashing the game in return.
I won’t get the opportunity to experience the variety of enemies the game can offer, as it won’t let me progress. As enjoyable as the singleplayer experience was, or at least, what I could make of it, I would also love to try and pit my wits other players, which may sadly never happen. Maybe one day, I’ll re-review the game when the ranked match feature is introduced, along with bug-fixes. For now, however, all I can give this game is a “disappointment” out of ten.
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