|Developed by:||Hanakai Studio|
|Published by:||Forever Entertainment SA|
|Format played:||PC – Steam|
I have to be honest, I don’t know the first thing about turn based, tactical strategy games. Reaching out on Twitter, one game came back as a point of easy comparison – X-Com.
Which is great but there’s still a problem. I’ve never played it. I have no idea what it is or what it’s about. And so I come into this review as a total noob. Please be gentle.
Given my lack of experience in this area, I won’t try to explain the set up. Indeed you’ll probably be more well versed than I. Instead let’s just take it as read that you understand the broad concept of a turn based strategy game and I’ll just describe what I found.
First things first (naturally), this is a beautiful game. The battle grid is set out in realistic looking fantasy setting, the camera panning the arena pre-fight to give you a feel for the world around you. Each turn is punctuated by a ‘vs’ screen that adds the feel of a big match fight card, the combatants snarling and grunting away at each other. And what a swarthy bunch these combatants are, from grimy little gremlins to hulking great leviathons, dwarves on the back of horn-tailed beasts to arrow wielding warriors. It sounds great too, the music capturing the fantasy vibe nicely whilst weapons land with a satisfyingly meaty thwack.
Each turn is split into an attacking and defensive phase. You can only move during the attacking phase so you have to think a couple of moves ahead, perhaps looking to position defensive roles in front to protect your more vulnerable attackers. Attacks vary by combatant, be they running in swinging or a more sedate form of offence. Either way, the objective is the same; find a vulnerable goon on the other side of the arena and give them what for.
But of course it isn’t that easy. In the defence phase whilst you can’t move, you don’t just line up to take your medicine. You can opt to throw up a protective shield, restricting your damage to the minimum amount, or even launch a counter attack. But that’s when things start getting a little complicated.
Both attacking and defensive phases are split into Harmony and Dissonance responses. Dissonance deals out more damage and allows counter attacks but in return, it destabilises your side of the grid. Unleash enough Dissonance moves and your whole side of the arena might be reduced to rubble, ending your encounter real quick. Harmony meanwhile offers somewhat less potency, and restricts defensive responses to mere protection, but ensures stability of the battle zone. Choosing when to use each becomes another part of the strategy.
As well as the choice of Harmony and Dissonance, other options abound. Certain characters can extend their protective range to team mates, helping to prevent those instances where a member of your party is targeted without you having the ability to direct their actions within that turn. Special abilities, triggered within specific circles on the grid, grant you the power to unleash new forms of attack, including a single bolt critical hit unleashed from the bow. Feeling the heat? Why not call for reinforcements and turn the numbers in your favour. Crew running on fumes? Forgo an attacking move and instead opt to heal your weary party.
There is a lot going on here and for those new to the genre, the tutorial is an absolute must as a first step, gently guiding you through the key concepts whilst leaving you empowered to go on and finish each encounter. Indeed it is clear that a lot of hard work has gone into the design, look and feel of Prodigy. Which makes it such a shame that I found the thing so dreadfully dull.
Matches seem to take an age to play out and whilst the graphical interludes are impressive to begin with, you’ll soon start reaching for the skip button to get back into the action, only to get a bit carried away and accidentally keep clicking the mouse button after you get back into the game and inadvertently choose to heal, rather than having at the opposition. For all the variation on potential attacks, my foes seemed to absorb most of it, fights becoming a war of attrition, vastly outstaying their welcome. What once seemed impressive soon descended into a tiresomely repetitive exercise.
There are plenty of options. Beyond the tutorial there is an attempt at wrapping a story around the whole thing, although I found myself quickly skipping past the clunky dialogue, whilst there are also training and horde options. For those more sociable than I, there is an online component too.
Probably. Maybe. If (don’t do it) this looks like (stop it, stop it now) your type of game (urgh).