Lost Eidolons is a difficult but deep tactical RPG that will appeal to Fire Emblem fans - hands-on
In a year swollen with a glut of tactical RPGs, it can take a lot for the good ones to get eyes on them, so I consider myself lucky that I had the pleasure of trying out Lost Eidolons from Ocean Drive Studio during my time at PAX West.
Combat in Lost Eidolons adopts a similar grid-based style that fans of Nintendo’s Fire Emblem franchise will feel at home with. During the course of battles, you will navigate your units around the terrain, trying to position them to get an advantage over your enemies while they do the same. Various tiles will grant the units on them different bonuses, such as increased defense or making them harder to hit when in shrubs or trees. It felt comfortable to play as a Fire Emblem vet.
That said, Lost Eidolons has added features that arguably make tactical decisions and placement more important and impactful to your overall success in the game. Enemies in the game will have two weaknesses generated each turn, placed in the spaces to the sides, behind or in front of them, based on the weapons you use, such as bows, magic, and swords. When one of these weaknesses is exploited by one of your characters, the damage dealt is increased, but the placement of the weaknesses will rotate and change. The damage will increase dramatically by continuing to hit these weaknesses with other characters. Taking down enemies fast seems to be crucially important as from what I played, and this game seems pretty difficult even on the normal difficulty.
To help exploit these weaknesses, each character can equip both a primary and secondary weapon that they can switch between, for free, at any time on their turn. In addition to their weapons, characters will also have spots available to equip various armor pieces and special skills learned as they level up any of the game's 10 classes. Speaking with one of the developers, they made clear that while the game had been balanced and anyone could use most of the classes, though characters had been balanced to work better at some classes than others. I appreciate this freedom of choice provided, and I’m excited to try an “Oops all archers” playthrough one day.
When you are busy fighting monsters and enemy armies, you will be spending a lot of time in your camp. This camp isn’t simply a menu though; instead, you will be able to run around the whole camp, speaking with your companions, increasing your relationship with them, gaining side quests, buying gear, and more. I wasn’t expecting Lost Eidolons to suddenly give me control of Eden, the game’s main character, and allow me to run around at my leisure, but it was a pleasant surprise. For players that are less enthused by running around, there is a quick travel system too that will let you jump to anyone or any point of interest in your camp. It works very well and is pretty fast too, just a fade to black, and you arrive in front of where you want to go.
Graphically, Lost Eidolons will leave less of an impression on players. Playing through the battles, I got strong Dragons Dogma / Dragon Age: Origin vibes, with models and creatures looking like they were pulled from about 2010. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they look bland; the monster designs I thought were quite well done and had a scary demon look to them. The human cast looked like they could have been swapped in or out of any medieval fantasy game of that era, and you’d be hard-pressed to pick them out.
Fire Emblem on the Gameboy Advance was the first strategy RPG that pulled me in and made me fall in love with the genre, and it’s for this reason that I am often overly critical of games that intend to imitate or pull heavily from these games. It is from this position of being critical that I can say, Lost Eidolons was a lovely surprise and has me excited. The best way I have found to describe it is if Dragon Age and Fire Emblem had a child, you would have Lost Eidolons. There may be something left to be desired from the visuals, but the gameplay and depth of its strategy elements I found far outweigh any shortcomings I had about it. Fans of strategy RPGs should check out Lost Eidolons when it launches on Steam on October 13 and on Xbox next year!