I haven’t talked about games in a long time, so I thought I’d sneak a quick game review in before crashing. I was looking forward to this title, but find it somewhat disappointing. It’s got some interesting mechanics, and makes the old tactical RPG formula feel like it could almost be compelling again. But it’s lacking in one major area: progression.
There is no leveling up to speak of, at least not in the five or six levels I’ve played so far (and I can’t imagine they’d wait that long to implement it in-game). This means that, while you get some new unit types, you have to play each battle with what you’re given. You can at various points produce new units of the existing unit types, but you can’t power up your existing troops at all, so there’s no way to come into a battle with an advantage. I suppose if you’re a tactical genius, you may appreciate the challenge, but I like the RPG elements that used to be a hallmark of the great turn-based games–most notably the brilliant Final Fantasy Tactics (especially the fantastic PSP port).
As always, there are good things. Skulls has a fun cartoon aesthetic and faux-Japanese voices (I think so, anyway–they’re garbled and sound kind of like the demon-god Dormin from Shadow of the Colossus). I also like the circular range of movement for each unit, as opposed to the tiles that are familiar from older games in the genre. And I love the conceit of playing as a dead Japanese warlord fighting to escape (or possibly conquer) the afterlife.
Unfortunately there’s just not enough substance–and exactly enough frustration, as the difficulty jumps pretty quickly–to keep me from really liking this one. 78/100.