Videogame Review: Tactics Ogre Let Us Cling together PSP

Tactics Ogre Let Us Cling Together is a remake of the original, absurdly hard Tactics Ogre for the PSOne (Not to be confused with Tactics Ogre Knight of Lodis).  The remake is done by Yasumi Matsuno, the original creator of Tactics Ogre, Ogre Battle, and Final Fantasy Tactics.  On top of that, “Let Us Cling Together” is a reference to a song by Queen, Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together).  The remake focuses on adding a degree of modern design to an old brutal game.  The Old Ways punished players with death.  The New Ways are much more forgiving while still delivering a challenging experience.  To say I’m considering buying this game flowers is an understatement for my love for this remake.

The gameplay is similar to Final Fantasy Tactics which should be no surprise since the same guy made both games.  The original Tactics Ogre was a prototype for the gameplay system featured in Final Fantasy Tactics.  The improvements made to this game are massive to say the least.  One of these improvements is the Strength Tarot which saves up to 50 moves that the player can rewind to at any point in the battle simply by pressing the left bumper and scrolling to the desired point.  On top of this the Strength Tarot will remember multiple paths during the battle.  Other improvements include new character portraits, new music, new missions, new characters to recruit, and all the classes level up together.  Yes, if the player has two ninjas and one of them is leveled up to 23, so is the other one whether the other ninja was in the battle party or not.  Once the game is beaten the World Tarot is opened which allows the player to go back in time to different anchor points in the story and make alternate choices.  There are about 4 anchor points per chapter and 4 chapters.

Choice is a massive part of the game.  There are three main paths (law, neutral, chaos) and around 40 recruitable characters, most of which can die.  Most of the characters can affect the story in some fashion, not the least of which is the  main character’s sister, Catiua, and his best friend, Vyce.  Typically there are at least a dozen decisions made through each chapter, some of which seem minor, such as which side to mount an attack on a castle from, and others which include whether to recruit a character or join a resistance.  In my game, pretty much everyone the main character loved died, was killed, or committed suicide.  Yes I am that good of friend.  Luckily I can use the World Tarot to go back and change this while still staying on the chaos path.  To say the ending I received was emotionally harrowing is an understatement.  And once I get all the gameplay plots and characters from the chaos path I can go back to the beginning using the World Tarot and my same legion and venture forth onto the neutral or lawful path.  This also makes missing recuitable characters a thing of the past.

The story is intensely written.  More than once I found myself wishing for the next story event rather than another battle.  The emotional investment in the five or six primary characters and desire to find out more about them is fairly intense.  Couple this with the aforementioned choice system as long as the player enjoys the combat system, the game will be enjoyed.  Several of the characters from the original Ogre Battle appear including Warren, Lans, Gildas, Canopus, Deneb, and a few others.  While it is not clear whether these characters really are the Xenobians from Ogre Battle until near the end of the game, they all bear the same characteristics from their namesakes in the previous game.   Tactics Ogre also includes multiple characters that have the same name which adds a certain sense of reality to a fantasy world.

Chances are you already know if you like tactics RPG’s or not.  Tactics RPG’s are typically constructed with loads of micromanagement and Tactics Ogre is no exception.  Each character can equip up to five items including a weapon, armaments, and rings.  After each battle, all the character participants receive skill points which can be used on *gasp* skills.  Each characters starts out with several skill slots and can be upgraded to approximately a dozen skills.  Each class receives different skills and there are around a dozen classes plus half a dozen unique classes.  Note to Final Fantasy Tactics fans that not all these skills can be used in every class.  Saying that characters’ are customizable in Tactics Ogre is an understatement.  Each character on top of the dozen or so stats they hold have invisible stats which involve their national association.  For instance, if throughout the course of the game the player primarily kills Walister characters, Walister troops will be less likely to join the party.  But that can be changed if the player starts hunting Gargastan, the Walister’s enemy.  Luckily the game does not require the player to acknowledge these attributes.

It is very easy not to use something useful in Tactics Ogre.  The item creation system I initially wrote off because collecting materials was a pain.  The reason collecting materials was a pain is because I had not tried out the thief class.  Obviously the thief can steal.  What I did not realize is that enemy troops carry an abundance of materials on them making the item creation system viable.  On top of this I had not tried out the Ninja class until after I had beaten the game at 120 hours (Its a long game no matter how you cut it).  The Ninja class has a good RT stat which allows the character to move before other characters.  The Ninja class also quickly gains a skill that allows him or her to use two weapons.  And the Ninja is less hindered by terrain than other classes!  Other quick tips, if you find yourself with twenty characters at a high level but have low level classes to build up, change five or six characters to the same low level class, or different classes with the same level, and only use those characters in random encounters.  Most of the world will match the player level but some random areas have a minimum level.  And since any random encounter has a 100% run away success rate, there’s no danger of hitting the wrong area and having to load a previous save.  Also all spell scrolls have a one time use in battle by any member of the party.  This allows the character to cast the spell regardless of MP and learn the spell.  The learned spell cannot be used again until the character meets the class and MP prerequisites.

As for actual complaints about the game, the ending boss battle is almost as hard as fighting demi-fiend in Digital Devil Saga.  That is to say, frustratingly hard.  There are around 13 or 14 battles that need to be fought all in a row without access to supply replenishments but with access to saves (so keep multiple saves in case you need to grind a certain skill).  Once the player gets to the boss, the boss has several forms of which there is no save point in between.  The final form has a spell that can easily wipe out six members of the party, so come prepared to resurrect but realize healers die easily.  Other complaints stem primarily from the difficulty in leveling up unused classes.  Characters even two levels below the rest of the party are nearly useless in battle unless they can heal.  The level design is often frustrating in later battles when it takes 10 turns to get into position to attack since the entirety of the enemy is on a higher elevation.

Oh Tactics Ogre, how I love thee!  It surely helps that the title is a Queen reference.  The amount of care and love that went into this remake is breathtaking.  If only every game in Square’s catalog would receive the same treatment.  Or if Atlus took Tactics Ogre as a lesson.  Either way this game is easily worth the price of a new PSP and a $40 copy of the game for me.  Luckily I already owned a PSP and the Tarot card set that came with the preorder made the $40 price rather feasible.  Not to mention the 120 hours I’ve spent playing the game!  What I didn’t realize is just how much this game would take over all my handheld playing for several months.  Even now after beating it, instead of continuing Final Fantasy 6 or Persona 4  I simply find myself grinding a few new classes and plotting how to bring my sister back to life.


About MusiM
Musician, writer, Gundam model hobbyist, video game lover, host of The Carousel Podcast, and all with a day job.

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