Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga Impressions
One game series that is incredibly deserving of a resurgence is the criminally underrated Ogre Battle franchise, which is why I was very excited to check out Dancing Dragon Games' Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga. I had the chance to speak with Phil Hamilton, the Dancing Dragon Games founder and the creator of Symphony of War, as well as Bryan Herran, Director of Marketing, to take a look behind the curtains and get a better look at what strategy RPG fans have to look forward to!
Phil explains that development started about six years ago and that Symphony of War is being developed on a modified version of RPG Maker VX Ace. This decision was due to how well the engine could handle sprites to keep them looking as crisp and impressive as he could. I am happy to report that this game looks very very good, and had I not been told, I would not have guessed that this was using the RPG Maker system.
The stage that I was shown took place around the halfway mark of the game's 30 main missions, but where I was treated to a good look at the Symphony's plethora of RPG systems. Fans of the Ogre Battle franchise will instantly recognize the familiar army composition. Instead of a force of single characters roaming the battlefield, you instead field squadrons of units full of up to nine units on a 3x3 grid. Each squadron is comprised of a leader in charge and filled with units from among the game's 50+ classes, ranging from your standard soldier to siege cannoneers, all of which are done in gorgeous sprite work.
The depth doesn't stop there though! You can further customize and equip your squads with powerful artifacts, weapons, and balance special leader traits to focus and specialize each squad's repertoire. It borderlines on too much, but seeing it just made me salivate thinking of all the options it could present to players.
With your squads set up, battle shifts to something far more akin to Nintendo's Fire Emblem series, where you navigate your army around a top-down grid-based field. In the level I was shown, a kingdom was being attacked and your goal was to defend it with your forces, closing off choke points and holding the line, taking advantage of map effects such as high ground which would improve an archer's range or the forest tiles that allowed for ambush attacks on the enemy.
Once a fight breaks out, we shift back into Ogre mode, as the two sides will fight one another with zero input from the player. Each side will perform a single turn (if able) and that skirmish will end with whichever side dealt the most damage (minus the damage) healed will be deemed the winner, increasing their morale. Keeping your morale high and your enemies low will not only allow you to deal more damage, but when an enemy squad's morale is low, it gives you the ability to cause their units to surrender, which can help boost the leadership of that squad.
I was only able to spend about 30 minutes with Phil and Bryan, but even in that short window, I knew that this will be a game that will steal a lot of my time. Phil revealed that he is already deep in planning and brainstorming additions and things to come in Symphony of War 2, but right now he is full-steam ahead on finishing this first entry and getting it into fans' hands - hopefully this summer! In the meantime, a demo is currently available on the game's Steam page.