Arcadian Atlas looks to be a faithful homage to Final Fantasy Tactics - hands-on
It doesn’t seem all that long ago that fans of strategy RPGs were thirsty and craving the genre, missing the classics like Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre. Then, seemingly in the blink of an eye, fans now almost have more of these types of games than they know what to do with, and it appears that this deluge of SRPGs will continue into 2023. At PAX West 2022, had a chance to check out the upcoming Arcadian Atlas, and this is a game that Final Fantasy Tactics fans should take note of.
Originally successfully Kickstarted back in 2016, the first time you check out Arcadian Atlas, you will instantly notice the clear Final Fantasy Tactics inspiration that developer Twin Otter Studios has embraced when developing the title. The available demo showcased two battles and some cutscenes to flesh out the story, closing out with an option to either execute or spare an enemy. The producer explained that other events will present themselves over the course of the 20-30ish hour-long adventure when it releases, and choices like this will impact the story you experience and perhaps even what side quests are available to take part in.
Battles take place on an isometric grid with your forces facing off against enemies in standard strategy RPG fare. The demo contained a handful of the eventual 12 classes that will be available in the final release, including staples such as the bow-wielding Rangers and magic-slinger Warmancers. Each class will have access to its own skill trees and promotion paths that will further develop and evolve the classes, allowing special skills to be learned. This style of combat has proven time and time again to work wonderfully in this style of RPGs, and this time is no different.
Visually, Arcadian Atlas has some great-looking pixel art that is very reminiscent of the other classic tactical isometric RPGs that it pays homage to. Characters are detailed with all the classes that were featured in the demo, having very distinct looks along with equally unique drawn portraits to accompany them. The demo featured encounters in a lush-looking forest and a small city square that highlighted the verticality aspect of Arcadian Atlas. It does appear, though that you won’t be able to rotate the camera around to view the maps from different angles, instead, has it locked to one perspective and varying levels of transparency to help you see the troops on the map.
While you may expect this game to have a grand orchestral soundtrack with sweeping and bombastic melodies full of string instruments and the like, you may be surprised by the choice in direction that developers Twin Otter Studios have gone in. Jazz fans will be in for a treat, as gone are orchestral violins, and you get jazz horns in their place. It is a unique choice, and I experienced a bit of a shock at first. Overall, the tracks seemed fine; I thought the combat track came off a bit too close to elevator music, but music is highly subjective, and I’m intrigued to hear more.
The only real gripe and issue I have with Arcadian Atlas, and from the sounds of it along with other attendees who tried the demo, is a lack of some important information that isn’t presented to the player. In combat, much like in other strategy games of the sort, attacks have certain ranges, and like in Final Fantasy Tactics specifically, some attacks require a charge time in order to use. The issue arises in the fact that neither the hit range, whether or not an attack requires a charge, and even simply what an attack does, is not clearly presented to the player during battle. This meant that much of the time I spent in the two skirmishes featured in the demo was spent experimenting to find out what did what. Luckily though, I was told that this would be addressed by the developers and not be an issue in the final release.
Arcadian Atlas should be on the radar of anyone who holds a warm place in their hearts for Final Fantasy Tactics. I can’t think of another game that seems to have captured the look and feel of the Square classic quite like this game has. There is also a pretty sweet raccoon hero you get named Poncho, so that is a big plus in Arcadian Atlas’ book too. While there may be some rough spots right now, Twin Otter Studios has plenty of time to smooth them out before the game releases next summer.