by Thomas Mikkelsen
reviewed on PC
Turn-Based Strategy For Beginners
It’s a shame my son is only three years old as he’s still too young to contribute to one of our patented Junior Reviews. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics is a cute turn-based strategy game with RPG elements, based on the Netflix show of the same name (minus the Tactics). It serves well as an entry point into the genre for the younger generation and those unfamiliar with its mechanics. Despite being a charming and surprisingly addictive little game, it’s not without its flaws.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics relies on you having seen the show, as the writing is wafer-thin and more than a little “gamey.” If you’re familiar with the Netflix series, Tactics activates the right triggers as you’ll recognise its characters and have formed a connection to them. Their personality nuances become apparent and you’ll know the backstory to every mission but if you haven’t watched it, they’ll seem flat and their lines, already devoid of character, lack that emotional punch.
The Rise Of The Gelflings
It starts with the rulers of Thra, the Skeksis, abducting Rian’s (the protagonist’s) girlfriend, Mira, absorbing her essence in an attempt to extend their own lives. Rian witnesses this and warns the other Gelfling, who don’t believe him until he dreamfasts with them, letting the others see his memories. Faced with an undeniable truth, they join his cause one by one and a rebellion against the Skeksis is born. If you’ve seen the show, you’ll appreciate the backstory and rich lore that explains how the Skeksis rose to power on Thra and why they’re so desperately mining the Gelfling for their essences. Watch the show before playing this game, it’s good.
Promising over 50 unique battles, Tactics’ encounters are bite-sized. You’ll control five or six allies against an equal or greater number of varying enemies - starting with Gelfling loyalists, then darkened wildlife, and finally the Skeksis themselves. As with any strategy game, each enemy has strengths and weaknesses you must learn and account for but only a handful of encounters proved challenging enough to fail. Each battlle takes five to ten minutes to complete and they’re relatively simple, making this a perfect entry level title to introduce younger generations to turn-based strategy.
Tactics targets a younger audience than the show itself, however, as the show is dark, sometimes grotesque and deals with themes like death, war and corruption. But the game’s aesthetics are cute and cuddly and the UI is reminiscent of a free-to-play mobile game. The “Victory” and “Defeat” banners and sound effects heard at the end of encounters, followed by your rewards, could have come from any mobile RPG and the item store is just missing a “buy in-game currency” option,
One Axe Covers All
Equipped weapons and equipment don’t affect your character’s look in any way other than that if they’re holding an axe, they’ll be holding an axe. Different types of axes, swords and more all look the same. There’s also a noticeable lack of voice acting, bare-bones animations and overall lack of production values. Put simply, Tactics feels cheap. AI sometimes lose track of enemies if they’re too far away from a target, making them waste their moves shifting from one tile to the next, over and over, while their friends are being beaten to a pulp just a few tiles away.
Reading this, you may think I dislike the game but I don’t. I’ve become more addicted to it than I expected but it’s not because of the story, its visuals or feeling like I’m getting a lot for my money. I like its mechanics as they’re simple, easy to get into and I like upgrading my characters, managing my team and kicking some Skeksis behind. The bite-sized encounters are also perfect if you lead a busy life or have other things to attend to, like a three-year-old who wants to build a LEGO tower or a one-year-old who’s stinking up the place.
Best in Short Bursts
If you’re looking for a simple strategy game for your young one or a distraction from your daily life that doesn’t require your full attention, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics is the game for you but just ensure you watch the show first. If you were looking for a complex, intricate turn-based strategy RPG with a lot of nuance, story and character development, your money is better spent elsewhere.
Cute aesthetics, Bite-sized encounters, Simple RPG elements.
Wafer-thin writing and story, Annoying slot machine addiction mechanics, Lack of production values.