Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together – PlayStation
Publisher: Riverhillsoft, Atlus
Release Date: October 6th, 1995
Nerd Rating: 9.5 / 10
Reviewed by Rhutsczar
Let’s face it, during the 1990s there were many JRPGs that just littered the video game market. It was hard to find a decent one, as you had to filter through the layers and layers of CRAP since they were far and few between. On a whim many years ago, I discovered this diamond in the rough. Welcome to Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. This will be the first entry in a series of reviews for the Ogre Battle series, which you can expect a review for each game in the coming months. Yes, I know I am starting with the second entry in the Ogre Battle series, but I will be jumping around until the series has been fully reviewed. Screw going in order!
Welcome to the world of Valeria, a kingdom struggling to keep afloat. Oppressed by King Roderick, the constant problems Valeria faced were finally brought to a halt once Dolagare, a member of the Bacrum royal family, overthrew him and took over the throne. Unfortunately after a few years of peace, the royal family is lost due to illnesses and assassinations. This sparked a war among the ethnic groups of Valeria, each vying for control. Between one side seeking foreign aid and the other committing an “ethnic cleansing,” the two major forces stalemated. Thus begins Tactics Ogre.
Enough back story, let’s dive right in. You take control of Denam Pavel (or whatever the hell you choose to name him), a teenage rebel/soldier with a vengeance. During the aforementioned “ethnic cleansing,” primarily the massacre of Griate, Denam’s father is captured and Denam is only left with his sister by his side. Together with their childhood friend Vice and some help from a few knights from the foreign kingdom of Zenobia, they are able to free their political leader, giving them a fighting chance. Denam and company then form the “Liberation Army” and try to bring peace to Valeria. Do they succeed? You will have to play to find out.
Alright, so let me explain where Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together falls during the timeline of the Ogre Battle series. While Tactics Ogre is technically the second game released in the series, following Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen while preceding Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber, Tactics Ogre is actually the last game in the series story wise. Each game in the series has its own story and are merely connected by mentions of characters from past games or previous events. The most blatant connection is between the last entry in the series, Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. If you are able to receive the A+ perfect ending in The Knight of Lodis, you will be treated to an extra scene to the massacre of Griate. In this scene, it is revealed that you have been playing as Lans Tartare, Tactics Ogre‘s main antagonist, for the entirety of the game. The series in general is actually riddled with easter eggs, the most popular one being the titles of the games in the Ogre Battle series referencing multiple songs from English rock band Queen. While this doesn’t go beyond the titles themselves, it’s still rather interesting.
By far the best feature of Tactics Ogre is their usage of the chaos frame. Many RPG fans are familiar with the chaos frame and its classification of whether a character is lawful, neutral, or chaotic based on their actions, but Tactics Ogre takes this one step further. The story is split into four different chapters, and at two points in the story (ends of chapter one and two) the plot will drastically change depending on your choices in the game. While the story eventually evens out in chapter four, this adds massive replay-ability to an already addicting RPG. Oh and don’t you worry fans of the traditional Chaos Frame RPG element, as it is still used to gauge each character individually.
Are you one of those gamers that have to complete 100% of your current addiction? Tactics Ogre is definitely a challenge for you. In order to complete every single path alone, it will take at least a minimum of three playthroughs. This doesn’t even include the ridiculous side quests that can only be instigated and unlocked on a single path and by consistently looking at the game’s in-game records known as the “Warren Report”. No one actually uses the damn report but those perfectionists anyway. The biggest challenge of the game is a 100 level dungeon, known as “Hell’s Gate” in the PSX version, that has no options to save in between each battle. What can make this worse? The enemies scale to your level and higher. You may be level 35, which I have found is the average level to kill the final boss, and they will easily scale to 45+. Throughout all of my adventures in Valeria, I have only completed “Hell’s Gate” once. Yeah…no thanks, not again.
How does the game play you ask? Well Tactics Ogre runs dramatically different from its predecessor, focusing more on the use of an intimate squad of ten or so members on an isometric grid instead of controlling multiple squads in a clash between two armies like in Ogre Battle. During each encounter, the player is allowed to pick any character from his/her battalion (a max of 50 characters) and organize their choices into a squad anywhere from one to 10 units. In many encounters you will have more than 10 characters on your team, as NPCs will often join you and don’t count towards your max squad limit.
Now when it comes to organizing your battalion, this is where the real customization comes in. Depending on each of your characters individual stats, a large variety of 30+ classes are at their disposal. Each human character normally begins as a soldier (male) or an amazon (female) and can expand between archers, mages, priests, and fighters. They can then further expand into a specialized class such as an angel knight, terror knight, exorcist, or a dragoon, just to name a few. This doesn’t even include the different classes for all of the other races that can be recruited in the game, but those are for you to discover and develop.
Once you reach the battlefield, you will be able to control each individual character to do your bidding against your enemy. While it is key to balance your squad properly with a variety of strengths so your weaknesses are few, you can’t just focus on your squad as a whole. Each character has his/her own stats and level up on their own like in any RPG. Balance is key, as you can’t just have a bunch of knights and berserkers take on archers and mages, you will easily be picked off. If you are familiar with the Fire Emblem or the Disgaea series. Tactics Ogre should be rather easy to just pick up and play.
I have already put this feature way too far down the list, it should be a crime. The score is absolutely amazing, as it definitely deserves a 10/10 by itself. While the PlayStation version on included remixes of the original SNES soundtrack and didn’t fully optimize the PlayStation’s audio capabilities, it is still by far my favorite JRPG score. Created by legendary composer Hitoshi Sakimoto, the score consists of forty five individual tracks and thirty seven orchestral versions of aforementioned tracks. It’s hard not to just get lost in thought while the music takes a hold of you. Many notable tracks, in my own opinion of course, are “Air Land”, “Notice of Death”, “Chivalry and Savagery”, “Breath of the Earth”, and “Fight it Out!” You can easily be lost during the “Overture” as well, but I digress. If you don’t believe me, take a listen for yourself below while I go and charge off into battle.
It’s time to face the fact that Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is a must play for any RPG lover. Sporting an extensive class system, intimate gameplay, and an emotionally moving story, there is no reason not to go ahead and pick it up. While I highly recommend the PSX version, go ahead and pick up the PSP port if you are looking for a slightly more polished game. Those who haven’t played Tactics Ogre before, you must pick it up now. As for those who have tackled the mighty “Hell’s Gate,” I applaud you.
Looking for more reviews of your favorite RPGs? Nerd Bacon has you covered! Check out these reviews for some of your favorite RPGs.
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- Suikoden II by Rhutsczar
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