I learned about Tales & Tactics a while ago browsing through Steam while looking for a new auto battler to try out. At the time, it seemed interesting enough, but not enough to draw me in. But with the recent Tales & Tactics Spooky Season update, I knew that it was high time I got into the game, to see what it was all about.
What is Tales & Tactics Anyway?
Tales & Tactics is a Roguelike auto-battler with dungeon-crawling elements sprinkled here and there. Now that’s a phrase I never thought I’d get to say in my life, but here we are. To me, it sounded like too crazy of a concept to work. In practice, however, I was pleasantly surprised at just how well each of the systems synergized with each other.
It didn’t feel as if any particular element dominated over the other, instead, it felt as if each of the systems were corroborating to give me the best possible experience. And boy did I need them to corroborate. At the start, the game gave me the same feeling I experience whenever I’m learning a new board game. I.e. I was completely perplexed for a few hours.
The Gameplay of Tales & Tactics
Thankfully, the Tutorial does a great job of explaining things. Still, you’re most likely gonna need to go through a hazing process before you actually get a hang of the game and how it works. Anyway, here are the basics.
For starters, the battle map is usually a 5 x 8 hex grid. One half for you, one for your opponent. Each round, you get the option of rolling for a new hand of cards. The cards in question are the units you will be using on the battlefield. What you get is completely random, so be ready for a lot of frustrations.
Each unit has an Archetype (what it’s good at), SP cost (how much a unit costs), Traits (units most often have two traits, but not necessarily), and finally, the unit’s special skill. That’s already a lot to take in, but would you believe me if I told you that that that’s just the basics?
There’s a LOT of Units to Choose From
Whenever I start a new game, I usually have the habit of playing around in the main menu for a bit before I start the actual game. When I clicked on Tale’s & Tactic’s Compendium for the first time, I was met with a ton of question marks. After a few runs, I noticed that the question marks were being replaced with portraits.
After a while, the realization of just how many units there are hit me like a truck. What was even more surprising to me was the fact that each unit was unique and distinct from each other. It’s no wonder then that I couldn’t get a feeling for the meta. Add onto that the fact that none of the units are guaranteed and things get rather tricky.
Learning The Units & Items Is a Long and Laborious Process
Tales & Tactics is definitely not an easy game to get into, and it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. Two mechanics that are particularly tricky to get into are the unit synergy and item combinations mechanics.
I mentioned previously how units have certain traits, right? Well, these traits work in synergy with each other. The more units you have with a certain trait, the more special powers you activate. Usually, these powers come in two levels. But, because there are so many units, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to min-max everything in every run.
Add to that the myriad of different items that are present in the game and everything becomes even more confusing. Not only do your units interact with each other, but so do the items as well. With so many variables at play, no two runs are the same. In some, you get lucky, in others, you feel as if a witch had cursed you with a bad luck spell.
What’s New in Spooky Season?
In Sooky Season, the star of the show is Thud Pahud. A Dwarven Pirate with the ambition to kill a God, eventually. Most of us would probably settle with a promotion or a raise, but hey, to each his own. Thud is quite unique compared to the other heroes in the game. His focus is on quality, rather than quantity.
This might seem like a minor thing at the start, but it actually changes how you play the game by quite a substantial amount. Because you have fewer units at play, you really have to know how to use each and every unit effectively if you want to win. In that sense, Thud is definitely not a beginner-friendly character. He is however a world of fun to play as.
Another major change that came along with the Spooky Season update is the pre-run challenge modifier screen. This screen is honestly a godsend, as it allows you to tailor the challenges of your next run however you want.
You can either make the run feel like a walk in the part, or like a punishment sent down by the gods for your sins; with everything in between. You can also outright turn off certain mechanics like regional effects or even unit traits. Honestly, this is one of the most extensive modifier screens I’ve seen in a strategy game to date. Which is really neat in my opinion.
Bosses Have Also Received a Rework
Boss Encounters have also received a rework in Spooky Season. Nothing major mind you. Previously, bosses had bonus traits that were unique to each boss. Now, those traits have been turned into a “Boss Mechanic.” For the most part, the mechanics still function like the traits. I.e. they make me want to pull my hair out.
Thankfully, because of the aforementioned challenge modifier UI, you can conveniently turn off said Boss Mechanics. In my opinion, turning off Boss Mechanics is like cutting off the crust on your sandwiches. Sure, you’re free to do that, but why? You’re practically taking all the fun out of the experience.
Tales & Tactics & The Halloween Spirit
My favorite time of year is probably around Halloween. The weather is perfect, the food is even better, and everything is tranquil. As a tradition, I always get together with my friends and watch cheesy low-budget slashers. To celebrate Halloween, Tales & Tactics released a new zone called the Saunek Necropolis, along with a new boss, Lel’thas, the Champion of Saunek.
Sadly, I couldn’t reach Lel’thas because of skill issues, and I’m not even ashamed to admit it. I did however play around with the new Legendary units that came with the update, and they were a ton of fun to use. If you ever thought about getting into Tales & Tactics, now is the perfect time.
Tales & Tactics is currently on a 20% discount on Steam till 2nd November 2023.
Will you be checking out the Tales & Tactics: Spooky Season update? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
This preview is based on the PC version of Tales & Tactics. The key was provided by Indigo Pearl and Yogscast Games.