REVIEW – Square Enix isn’t just known for Final Fantasy or the Valkyrie series. The Diofield Chronicle, announced during the State of Play in March, focused more on the political aspect, which may have harmed the gameplay. Still, the question remains whether the plausibility of it was realized. The gameplay alone is not enough to show outstanding achievement.
A gritty and immersive story brought to life with the latest technology. Introducing “Real Time Tactical Battle” (RTTB), a new, deeply strategic, real-time battle system. The beginnings of a new Strategy RPG, crafted by a skilled and experienced development team.
A new combat system? Previously, under Square, we saw ATB, the Active-Time Battle system debuting with Final Fantasy IV in 1991. Everyone had a different waiting streak, which they could act on after their bar got full. In comparison, the Real Time Tactical Battle system is excellent: easy to get used to and never overwhelming. You control the Blue Foxes. This mercenary army is led by Andrias Rhondarson and Fredret Lester, with orders from Duke Hende of the Kingdom of Allentain. They get involved in the invasion attempts of the Schoevian Empire and the Rowetale Alliance. During the battles, we make decisions, and we have to decide beforehand which units to fight, what items, weapons and skills to use, that sort of thing. The battlefield resembles a square grid sandbox with detailed terrain (which includes mines, mountains, and forests…), and positioning your units appropriately is essential, so you can strike your opponents unexpectedly (an ambush is always highly efficient!) and knock them out quickly with critical attacks.
It is not difficult; the challenge is more about building a balanced team and using your skills properly. The problem is that you have to get used to the menu-based approach because it’s not clear at first what to do and how to do it. Your team will grow over time, and you will get to know the background of the characters. The abilities are tied to the weapons, and you use Energy Points to apply them. Weapons have different uses depending on character type (soldiers with daggers are good executioners, and those with swords and shields can be excellent at stunning their enemies). Building a team requires some iteration (several subtypes under the four unit types, which can be varied). Tapping one auxiliary unit per character to each of the four central units on the battlefield means 3-4 abilities per character. The battles themselves last about five minutes (give or take two). This length can be shortened with Magilumic Orbs, giving summons unique animations. The “fox tuning” is done by the skill tree, weapon research or orb research. Yes, there are passive skills in the mix, too.
One of the problems of The Diofield Chronicle is the lack of presentation: sometimes, the voice acting is exceptional, and the mission briefings are adequately presented, but at other times, it’s just minimalistic. The experience is inconsistent, and most of the time, it also comes up in the story that something happened, but only in the background, and it’s communicated as an afterthought. The other pressing issue regarding the game is that its world feels lifeless and dry. At least the interaction between the characters is pleasant, as everyone seemed quite fleshed out. That’s strange: the story is well-developed, but the execution doesn’t seem to be.
These “two halves” will be noticeable during the 24-25 hours or so of gameplay. The split between the story and the combat is also evident: while the action feels like a pleasure to play (and if you’re not so patient, you can even crank them up to twice the speed), the story doesn’t tend to come through, thanks to the shortcomings mentioned above. For some elements, it would have been better not to only see a map of the world with narration, as important events would have required more care. Still, it is recommended not to play the game for longer bursts because a loop in the gameplay is established in a pretty short time. The product is repetitive, which was the factor that tilted the game’s rating towards a slightly rounder number. The story, with its politics, is a good starting point, and it mostly delivers, but it could have been done better.
The Diofield Chronicle gets a six and a half of ten (and a six out of ten on PC because Denuvo is cancer that the gaming industry needs to get rid of, and Square Enix will most likely NEVER remove it from the game; so much for the “the game’s launch period needs to be protected “non-sense) because the combat system and battles are nice, but there are flaws in almost every other aspect. It is a low point for a Japanese company that has found its way out of bankruptcy in RPGs (if Final Fantasy hadn’t been a success, Square Enix wouldn’t exist). Finally, the visuals should be mentioned: they’re not bad, but the style might be somewhat divisive because it doesn’t seem like something you can say, “Yes, it’s good”. And The Diofield Chronicle is far from that.
+ The battles
– …but only at short intervals
– Almost all its elements are good, but it suffers from shortcomings
– The “empty” parts of the story…
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix, Lancarse
Style: Strategy, RPG
Release: September 22, 2022.