Being warriors of the King’s Army isn’t the worst gig out there. You get to journey across the land, helping people in need, making the world a better place and all that good stuff. Simple enough and quite manageable. But then one day, some jerk decided to launch an attack from another dimension (wait, what?), basically waving a red flag in front of every last hero in Sentry Knight Tactics. No more easy times and no more mr. nice guy. Death to the invaders!
That’s the plan, anyway. Whether or not this particular lot will be able to pull it off, well, that’s another matter entirely. Although after many glorious battles, a handful of deaths, a lot of NPCs helped and some minor internal bickering (man, that ranger), I can safely say that… they’re certainly determined! While such a feat obviously won’t win the war, it’s a start.
What might however at least tilt the odds in our favor, is what each member of this 4-person party brings to the table during battle. Which is probably a good thing, since the majority of Sentry Knight Tactics has you kicking ass and taking names against increasingly difficult opponents. Oh, and there’s no pausing to issue commands or such nonsense. Everything happens in real-time.
Fortunately, the game does kick off with a lengthy tutorial instead of simply throwing you in, expecting you to swim right away. I mean, issuing commands to a single character is easy enough, but sooner or later, there simply won’t be enough time to swap between the four, clicking on the same enemy with each. This is where the ever-important ability to have everyone attack the same target with a single command comes into play, as explained by the priestess (just like the rest of the tutorial, really).
Or how about ordering said character heal herself? Selecting the priestess and right-clicking someone will cause her to focus her efforts on that target, but to self-heal, it’s a double left-click… on herself. What I’m getting at is that the tutorial is unskippable for a reason and that while the combat may seem rather basic at first, there is a fair amount of depth to all the clicking and micro-managing.
An example of this lies within the ‘aggro’ system, as attacking someone with a heavily armored character (such as the knight) will apparently piss them off enough to have them focus said, well, aggressor. Seeing how your setup will likely consist of both ranged and melee-centric characters, this is definitely something to keep in mind, as having only one target to keep an eye on is easier than four. And enemies do love to assault ranged characters in close combat. So annoying.
Speaking of, you won’t be forced to use the same party configuration throughout the entire journey, as just like equipment, these are interchangeable while on the world map. Additional party members may be few and far between, but they do mix up the otherwise slightly repetitive combat with different skills. Being able to set an enemy on fire or paralyze with a charge attack doesn’t exactly hurt your chances, that’s for sure. Oh, and whenever you gain XP, everyone gets it – doesn’t matter if they’re in the active roster or not. Not a bad way to encourage experimenting with different setups.
Different characters, each with a unique skillset, aren’t the only RPG-y elements of Sentry Knight Tactics either. There’s also plenty loot and a crafting / upgrade system in place, both of which further help boost defensive and offensive strengths. Ain’t as complex or varied as your typical action RPG, but it still fleshes out the experience somewhat.
If only the same could be said about the story. What little there is, honestly feels a tad too generic for its own good: ancient force invades from another dimension (ain’t the first time either!), a powerful ancient weapon must be located to combat this evil. Again. Its delivery has charm, though, complete with witty dialogue interruptions from party members. Did I mention how the ranger (marksman) has a tendency to get snarky when the pace slows down?
Anyway, to locate and acquire this weapon – which may or may not even exist anymore – requires a rather lengthy and dangerous journey, one leading across many treacherous areas. From gloomy forests to murky swamps and, needless to say, snow-covered plains, each featuring their own unique type of enemy to deal with. Unless you manage to outrun them, that is. See, on the world map, combat isn’t forced upon the player, potential encounters avoidable with clever navigation (spoiler: more often than not, escaping is quite unlikely).
As such, you’ll have ample opportunity to familiarize yourself with the workings of battle in Sentry Knight Tactics, learning the strengths – and weaknesses – of each particular foe. Everything from your typical spiders, with paralyzing webs, to explosive crazed goblins, is present and accounted for here. Heck, how about a necromancer, capable of both teleportation and raising the dead under his command, while we’re at it? Or poisonous slimes? Yup. Hardly the most original ‘fantasy RPG’ monsters, but eh, nothing wrong with that.
On a related note, sooner or later, you will fall in battle. Hope you remembered to save recently, or that’s a lot of progress lost! Actually, no. Upon dying, you’ll simply awaken at the nearest cemetery – complete with a few moments of dialogue, as everyone’s obviously confused as to just what happened. Something something fourth wall. At least party members will be resurrected at the end of a successful battle, removing the typically time-consuming activity of bringing everyone back from the great beyond.
In fact, Sentry Knight Tactics, generally speaking, does feel like a watered down experience, compared to most other genre entries. Whether that’s a bad thing or not depends on just what you fancy from a role-playing game. If a somewhat slow-paced, tactical affair without stats to manage or deep character customization might sit well with you, then you may want to check this one out. If, on the other hand, you want something more engaging, more demanding, more… well, fleshed out, then I’d recommend looking elsewhere.