Extended Review – Dark Crystal Age of Resistance Tactics

Thanks to the kind folks at En Masse Entertainment and Bonus XP, I’m pleased to be able to brind you this extended review for Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics. The title is a good one for turn based veterans, and brings a nice story as well as some good gameplay. Find the video review just below so you can see for yourself, or keep reading for the full extended written review.

As ever, if you have comments or questions, head over to the socials and let me know what you think.

The Basics

Based on the recently aired series over on Netflix, Dark Crystal Age of Resistance Tactics views the world through an Xcom style lense. Following the narrative from the TV show prety closely, the Turn Based Strategy genre is an odd one to choose for Jim Henson’s franchise. Overall however, it really works well to bring yet another great tactical adventure to PC and consoles. You’ll manage an evolving party, commanding them in strategic battle as well as managing their job roles, skills and equipment.

I’ve been a big fan of titles such as Xcom through the years, and while the style is similar it’s good to see Age of Resistance bring its own mechanics to the genre. At first, I was a little wary that it could simply be an Xcom clone in the same manner as Massive Chalice, but I’ve been pleased to find that Dark Crystal really looks to bring its own cards to the table. The inclusion of magic is one such change which works well in the context of the game. Users will have to keep an eye on their MP to keep using abilities, which can give a strategic edge in different gameplay scenarios.

I’ll not go into too much detail here as I have the usual attention on avoiding spoilers for those who’ve not played the title or seen the Netflix Series. Essentially, you’ll follow the plot of the series pretty closely, putting you in the driving seat as the Gelfling gang fight back against the tyranical rule of the Skeksis. In honesty, I’ve never really been a fan of the series. I’ve always been drawn into 80s releases such as Labyrinth, however the animatronics within the original Dark Crystal, while groundbreaking, used to terrify me. Even with this in mind, I’ve found the narrative within the title to be fully engaging, so I can imagine that fans of the franchise will have an even better time than I have.

Character evolution within the title is handled really well, and you’ll have full control over the party members’ job roles, abilities and equipment. This means that not only will you need to focus on outfitting them as you go, but also ensuring that you’re taking the right balance of jobs and abilities into each battle with you. With the ability to set primary and secondary job roles, mixing different abilities between them to complete your characters, players can really tailor strategies to themselves, which is a really nice touch. It’s also great to be able to have some basic planning available at the start of each mission. As well as having some characters who are autimatically selected depending on the level story, you can swap out party members, again giving a much more bespoke feel to each battle.

Parent’s Eye View

Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics is rated by PEGI at 12, and by the ESRB as Everybody 10+. According to the ratings on the Xbox store, this really comes down to fantasy violence within the title, and I can definitely see where they are coming from. With the gameplay being rooted in strategic warfare, there is a lot of fantasy violence included. However, when fighting there is no blood or gore, and when bested enemies and allies simply fall down and lie on the floor.

There are some slightly edgy moments with fear. I’d say rather than anything to worry about in regular scenarios, this comes in with around the same level of creepiness as the tv show itself. Overall it’s not a huge element, and while the story arcs follow some tense subjects there’s not much there to concern parents.

With the levels of violence involved, in honesty it’s one which I wouldn’t be worried about letting Micro-Bandit #1 have a play with. Around the age of 5 or 6 here, the violence contains no gore or blood and I would say if you’re happy for your young ones to watch the associated TV series then they might enjoy the game here. The biggest sticking point for me would be the tactical knowledge required to beat the levels, but they all have to learn sometime

The Run Down

Visuals – Great: With a title at the lower end of the price spectrum and from fairly small indie studios, I’ve been really surprised at the visuals here. The camera rotation and zoon is really fluid, and can help keep you among the action as well as providing a tactical view of the battlefield. When you get really close in the character models are still pretty good, and I’ve not really found anything to fault the visuals on here.

Audio – Good: Borrowing from the TV / Film franchise, the soundtrack itself is absolutely outstanding. The orchestral music sweeps through the title, fully fitting for the narrative, and is one which I’ve since been looking to find on music streaming apps. The sound effects themselves in game are also notably good, and working together they make a great job of fully immersing the player in the story and action. Sadly though, there’s no voice acting within the title which is really noticable after the brilliant audio efforts in other areas. Without voices the cut scenes can feel a little flat after the cut and thrust of battle, and this is the only reason why overall audio dropped from Great to Good.

Narrative – Great: With the strong story backing from the franchise, narrative was always going to be a good contender here. Drawing from the arcs created for the Netflix series, Age of Resistance provides a wonderfully engaging story even if you haven’t been keeping up with the franchise since the early 80s.

Replay – Good: I’ve been fully drawn into Dark Crystal, and even without touching on multiplayer there have been a few nights where I’ve lost track of time, staying up long after a sensible bedtime. With the different jobs available, each bringing their own abilities to your party, and the party and battle management available, each battle reall can be approached in a number of ways. It’s one which I’ve been happy to go over again, and with a decent amount to do within the title there are some nice side stories and battles to get involved with.

Overall the Pixel Bandits Gelfling level is Grab It. I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spend with Age of Resistance, and as a fan of Turn Based Strategy I’m always happy to see more titles in the genre come to console. It’s similar enough for genre veterans to get to grips with pretty quickly, as well as being different enough in both story and gameplay to be worth picking up.

As a player who’s not even really a fan of the franchines, I’ve a feeling that where I’ve enjoyed it those who are already engaged with the characters will get even more out of the title as well. For fans of tactical combat, especially those who love a fantasy setting, I’ve no hesitation in saying that this one comes highly recommended.

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