Tactics Ogre: a land of options

, | Game diaries

The story in Tactics Ogre is engaging, topical, and very dark. It’s also wonderfully written and executed. The plot centers around a handful of rebellious youths who wish to engage some knights responsible for sacking the village they live in. That turns sideways quickly and spills into a sweeping tale of treachery, war, and rebellion.

The core of the tale is your character and the choices you make as the game unfolds. Several times, you will be asked to make a choice, and several times those choices will be very hard. I had to put the PSP to sleep a few times and give some serious thought to how I wanted to proceed.

After the jump, decisions, decisions

The reason some of these choices is hard is the not knowing. You don’t know what the repercussions will be in the long term. You only know from experience there will be repercussions. Consider the branching choices that define the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another chapter. If you’ve been reading through the Warren Report (the game’s built-in encyclopedia of information, rumors, and events), you’ll be well versed in the political interests in the land.

Your choices completely change the game. Several smaller choices have a more immediate impact. For instance, my dilemma from yesterday’s game diary was “do I let this person escape and avoid a challenging fight?”. But the choices that define a chapter branch are so impacting that they change the story completely.

I won’t give any story spoilers, but I will provide a theoretical example. Imagine making a choice on your first play-through that pits you against a powerful mage, who swears to destroy you by any means. He escapes at the end of the first few encounters and shows up several times through the game, until you finally kill him. Now imagine you had made a choice early on that meant when you met him he was already a champion of your cause, and not only does he not attack you, but he joins your army and becomes a playable character!

There are several routes through the game: Law, Chaos, Neutral and variations therein (the above image shows the branches you can take at each chapter for the major story choices). There is no “good” or “evil”. Much like the Mass Effect series, the ends will justify the means in many cases, though there are definitely some choices that would put you at odds with other compassionate and “good” characters. Including your own units.

It’s possible units in your army will get angry with you and leave your service because of the choices you’ve made. You have to weigh carefully those choices, and the sort of story you want. Everything you do reverberates into the game itself. Even how you engage the enemy. If you only need to defeat a single foe but you slaughter everyone on the battlefield first, you’ll get more xp, skill points, and loot. But you’ll potentially irk some powerful characters.

Tomorrow: but wait, there’s time travel!
(Click here for the previous Tactics Ogre game diary.)

BleedTheFreak (aka Scott Lufkin) currently lives in Iowa with his wife, two children, and a beloved PC.