Tactics Elemental is a tactics game (clue in the name), featuring your usual square-based grid, a progressively long story line, and eroge elements (hentai basically). With your usual storyline of an ensemble team that comes along to save the day. That usual fix, which this game does. But, what stops it from being a great standalone game with hentai elements is the lack of polish in the quality of life department.
Story oftens comes second to mechanics, since you have you play the game to experience it. Which is what Tactics Elemental struggles to maintain: a consistent flow and battle experience. Whilst grindy elements are to be expected in games like this, the level curve seems to struggle to maintain a level of consistency. That leads to curb stomping moments for those uninitiated with tactics games. An example is the build up to the closing act of the game, whilst severely underleveled. Beating that section took a level of understanding of what each player can and can’t do to a large extent, not bad a thing necessarily. And honestly something that would be expected in this type of genre, if you’ve got the skill to do it. Just, there are too many units to know what to do with about two-thirds of them.
The basic premise is a doomsday force of aliens have started invading your planet and as a Sage of the land, Theedle enacts a plan to raise an Eternal into existence to destroy the invading force. Which is your custom character, who’s overpowered beyond belief. Twists and turns happen, with the ending being that you drive the invading force away. A relatively simple storyline. But it can be easily ruined if too much is thrown into the pot, which this game does sadly. Featuring too many characters, what were initially interesting characters quickly boil into some weird tropes and one-off characters and liners. An example is the groups of thieves you encounter that join your cohort, one group proved useful and others not so much. If there’s a sin to be had in the writing, it’s that the game doesn’t want to kill anyone off. This in turn led to the game’s pacing being thrown out of whack.
Pacing is vital in games, especially when numbers are being thrown around. Typically, you can buck the trend because of enemy strengths and weaknesses. But the scope of the game doesn’t let you maximise on that because of the UI hindering any attempts to capitalise on those moments. Firstly, within the game you can’t easily locate the attacks and available arsenal of your team. Along with that, selecting them in a battle is a chore having to cycle through each one. This is made worse with the ordering of them not making discernable sense not following in alphabetical order or even in order of power/level. Secondly, the game runs slow. Not slow as in it’s power hungry, but mechanically you’ll be sitting and idling for a bit whilst characters like Chizzle dawdles themselves to the square you want them on. This extends to unskippable or adjustable game speeds, a major downpoint with arguably more time watching animations than the action scenes. Thirdly, what is with the UI design? It’s very barebones compared to the art or even the style. Of course not much can be done to make it exciting or innovative. But basic boxes without the ease of shortcuts wears thin on the enjoyment that can be had. Assuming some of your attacks land where they’re supposed to, that definitely didn’t lead to restarting the match.
To cut the negativity tap off, this is a serviceable game that just needs UI adjustments to take the experience from irksome after several hours of play to competent if not noticeable (for good reasons). It just works. Nothing more. But to the good points. The artstyle, whilst not to everyone’s taste, is really good. It does what it needs to for the “intimate” scenes (I just don’t know if casual sex is all that intimate). Compared to other Hentai games, this sits maybe above average on that list in that regard. Of course some extra effects here and there would’ve be awesome to help make them more visceral and less “still”, for a lack of a better word. But for those interested/in the know, ahegao is plentiful (just don’t Google it at work if you’re curious).
Performance was solid on my Aspire R11 with a Celeron N3050, the frame rate only suffered when it threw a particle effects party. But other than that, no screen scaling or resolution issues were found. Audio didn’t screech or hiss. A weird thing to point out, but some H-games from experience have had the annoying white noise or uneven audio to horrendous effects. The lack of VA might turn some people off, but having played most of these games silent, this wasn’t a negative.
Now comes the difficult part, where this fits as a game. Part of the issue with reviewing this was that if reviewed as a game it sits at serviceable but needs a UI overhaul. But as a H-game, where there can be some really horrendous UI designs. It sits above average, since most people would care more about the “action” scenes. As opposed to the core gameplay loop. Then there’s the Hentai content itself. Reviewing that is subjective at the best of times, if not reviewing the presentation of it. The only comment of it is that it tries to do something for everyone, but lacks an element of soul (for better or worse, or whatever floats your boat).
Tactics Elemental (Reviewed on PC)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
Despite the praise I have for it, it sits average at best in terms of gameplay as a game. And as a games reviewer first and foremost, this is being judged as game first with hentai content as a bonus to the core experience. Just overhaul the UI before you launch your planned DLC.