This is a niche game, and they tend to be subjected to poor User Reviews. However, strategy role-players just happen to be my favorite category. I am a huge fan of the genre. I started with Shining Force on the Sega Genesis, and have been playing every SRPG I can get my hands on since then. With that being said, even I was hesitant to spend the money on this title after reading some ofThis is a niche game, and they tend to be subjected to poor User Reviews. However, strategy role-players just happen to be my favorite category. I am a huge fan of the genre. I started with Shining Force on the Sega Genesis, and have been playing every SRPG I can get my hands on since then. With that being said, even I was hesitant to spend the money on this title after reading some of these reviews. The complaints (unfinished game, long fights, impossible odds), had me legitimately concerned. I’m glad I decided to take a chance on it – Children of Zodiarcs turned out to be quite fun with some addictive layers of strategy. It is definitely not for everyone, though.
The game borrows elements from previous SRPGs and collectible card games like Magic the Gathering. On the surface, the game has the look of a stripped down variant that takes place on a grid style battlefield. I felt the small party size (three) and the absence of finding new weapons and armor a bit lacking. There are no items (potions, healing herbs, etc.) to speak of. Instead, you unlock new cards for each of your characters, and find new dice for them to equip.
The game really deviates itself from the standard with its cards and dice mechanics. Instead of picking from a list of abilities, what your character can do in a turn is determined by the available cards in hand. This action is then modified by rolling the dice. Depending on which symbols turn up, your character will be awarded certain things like bonus damage and bonus healing. There are even symbols for drawing more cards and taking an extra action. I found myself vested in each roll, because you are allowed to choose up to two dice to reroll once per round. This is a pleasant change from the redundancy of pixelated dice rolling than can be found in other games. I was forced to prioritize my reroll options by what my character needed most at any given time. Should I go for max damage, or do I need more cards? Should I try to squeeze out another action, or get the symbols required to activate a secondary ability on the card I just played? Sometimes I needed three or four of these things to happen at once, so that I can turn the tide of the battle, or just continue to stay afloat. When I was able to engineer such a feat, it was quite satisfying.
Of course, the dice doesn’t allows go in your favor, and sometimes you will not get rolls or the cards that are needed to win. I can see how this randomness can be off putting to some. The key is maximizing your odds by equipping the best suited cards and dice (each character can equip different dice to a certain amount of slots). Even taking these precautions doesn’t always guarantee victory. You will be responsible for constructing the decks, so there will be trial and error while you figure out which cards work best, and which dice compliment them. The lengths of the battles are indeed long, but this is nothing new to the genre. If you aren’t fighting a battle, what else are you going to do in the game? It is not like you will unlock a first person shooter portion of the game once you knock out all these ‘silly turned based fights’. If you are like me, the grid based combat drew you to the game in the first place. As far as the game being impossible due to overwhelming odds, I can see that being the case if you are under leveled, but that’s what the skirmishes are for. Beefing up my squad in this manner didn’t feel like a grind to me. I was excited to see what new card I would get after leveling up. Sometimes, characters are awarded new dice after a battle, though I have yet to figure out what mechanic this is tied to, if any. The EXP awarded during skirmishes is sufficient (even better for elite skirmishes) especially if you are pushing each character to do as much as possible each turn. EXP is awarded for every action (playing a card), not just dealing the killing blow. I realize that I am in the minority of folks that enjoy this aspect of the game, but I certainly wouldn’t call it broken.
As I mentioned, only three characters in the party does seem lacking. Not because it is too hard, but since the cards are character/class specific, and seeing some more variety would be great. It has a solid foundation, and the possibilities to improve are certainly there for a second installment. I would love to see four or five characters to a party tied into FFTs job system, or something similar. Being able to unlock new classes and new abilities along with the current ones would certainly add to the replay value.
That being said, Children of Zodiarcs holds up pretty darn well in its current form. As I stated, it is a niche game, and it certainly won’t win over any new fans to the genre (like FF7 did for JRPGs). However, if strategy role playing games have always been your thing, then you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.… Expand