Grotesque Tactics

by bhayden
28. January 2013 21:18

Many years ago I fancied myself a writer of the game review kind, and while it didn’t work out I do miss it dearly.  Following is my (incredibly) rusty attempt at rediscovering that part of my brain.

I’ve had my eye on Grotesque Tactics for quite some time before playing it.  For reference the game was released in October of 2010.  I picked it up in the latest Steam summer sale and finally got around to playing it.  As a man starved for some strategy RPG action, I was hoping Grotesque Tactics would be an oasis in a veritable desert.  It’s not that strategy RPGs don’t exist.  They haven’t quite reached bigfoot level yet but outside of the handheld market they’re sighted almost as often.

Grotesque Tactics sets its tone early and often.  As the anti-hero Drake has failed has Hero test and seeks oblivion in the mouth of a giant mushroom.  From there the writing and wit is crisp, if sometimes overt in its pokes at the giants of the RPG industry.

The meat of any strategy RPG is in its combat system and this is where Grotesque Tactics turns out to be more like a mirage than oasis.  The combat is incredibly shallow and limited in its execution and rarely are you ever punished for a mistake by the AI (disclaimer: I played on normal difficulty).  The game’s one unique element, obsessions, are hit and miss.  It’s here where I think the desire to be witty and clever backfires.  The obsessions don’t behave in the same manner as your characters’ other abilities.  Whereas normal abilities exclude hitting your allies the obsessions hit both friend and foe.  While it is possible to mitigate this it often leads to annoyance over anything else.  It’s this inconsistency that ultimately left me wanting for some additional depth.  Clever plotting of obsessions would’ve added some extra, predictable depth that the combat was lacking.

In the end Grotesque Tactics provides a great tongue-in-cheek experience that’s easy to get into and out of.  While the combat could be better not every strategy RPG is going to be Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea.  Nor should they try to be.  By avoiding this pitfall it ultimately delivers a successful and satisfying experience that did leave me wanting for more.

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