Absolute Tactics: Daughters of Mercy

Absolute Tactics is a solid strategy RPG with a bit of humourous edginess and sharp but simple design. Being the product of a very small indie team, it has solid length and is overall competently made, while being easy to play and follow the story.

This is a fairly consistent game; it has colourful visuals with mildly stiff animations, a voice actress who serves partially as narrator and commentator, and with an overall pleasant style reminiscent of flash games. Menus, attacks and maps are effortless to understand due to the UI and grid’s crisp clarity. In terms of level design, straight forward objectives and a general linear path that encourages a gameplay style of advance, kill the cluster of enemies, then advance again as far away foes do not aggro. From the main menu there are options to switch gear and class, purchase items, and choose story or optional missions. Each map has treasures, some of which are hidden or require certain abilities, such as items in sewer grates requiring your dog to retrieve.

Characters are fairly basic, there’s minimal time for development or building relationships beyond the bits of mission centric dialogue during combat. The main character is guy with dog who happens to get into a military group trying to fight back against evil emperor. Aside from visual design and a bit of personality it is fairly one dimensional.

Map strategy is very limited, you’re able to create traps and barricades, but there’s not much in terms of using elevation or battlefield control to consider and as you have a leisurely pace it’s quite easy to take advantage of recovery and choke points in the generally narrow paths to easily whittle down foes. This all makes combat less tactical and more about stats, based around healing, status buffs and effects and damage. Regarding character progression, leveling is standard with the option to equip and switch upgradable classes.

Unfortunately I ran into a bug that didn’t allow me to hit a foe in a stage, meaning I couldn’t beat that level and thus was unable to complete the game. Naturally, I expect this to be fixed by the developer as thankfully patching is a thing nowadays but playing this prelaunch it is a fix I’ll have to wait for, and there’s no denying a bug that halts progression entirely is never a good thing. While a decently made srpg, there’s not a lot of depth in any specific area, though there’s also not any major flaws and it’s a good step above a paint by numbers RPG maker product. Considering the size of the team, don’t expect either the story depth of Final Fantasy Tactics, or systems depth of Disgaea, though it may be a bit more comparable to something like Vandal Hearts. If you are looking to support an indie game, this may not be must play but if you enjoy the genre this doesn’t require deep thought or commitment to play, and it is enjoyable enough that I can recommend giving it a try.

~~Alex Cumming~~


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