Political intrigue, personal agency, a lust for power—oh my! Welcome to The DioField Chronicle (“DFC”), a real-time strategy-like game developed by LANCARSE and published by Square Enix. The game recounts the story of the DioField island, told through the lens of a ragtag group of mercenaries that soon become the leaders of their own unit. Positioning, abilities, and gear are key to success in the gloomy world of DioField and will carry the game for players more than its other aspects. If you’re a fan of the Final Fantasy Tactics series, this game may be of interest to you.
Now, come forward and let me speak my stories about The DioField Chronicle.
Strategy Explained in Dioramas
Much like its name may suggest, DFC’s gameplay takes place from a top-bottom perspective similar to many a real-time strategy game. But this time, the stages are quite literally designed as dioramas, in which the player will guide teams of four throughout various environments to clear enemies, escort, and defend bases when a stage calls for it. Your units can be staff, axe, dagger, or lance wielders and can have backup units to switch between a limited number of times.
There’s plenty of upgrades you can, and will, need to get to ensure you’re not left behind while advancing story chapters. Positioning is key and thanks to fairly intuitive controls, your units feel good to control and command. Having a character like Andrias, a dagger wielding unit with good mobility, be able to launch behind an enemy and pull attention to himself while my other units do critical damage to their rear is very satisfying. And although the game does become area-of-effect heavy with its attacks later on, the game gives plenty of tools to round up large numbers of enemies for efficient whacking. And if things are going a bit too slow, you can always speed up time.
I have some frustrations with how enemy health scales even if the player gets the best gear available to them. Some enemies take quite a while to kill, bosses especially. Level design is nothing to write home about as well, despite me liking the diorama stage design. But despite that, I feel the multiple mission objectives, unit variety, and multiple attack vectors like
eidolons magilumic orbs make up for these short comings in some capacity.
War Really Doesn’t Change
I’m not a fan of such subtitling, but I think it fits this game’s narrative quite well. DFC’s story is primarily told through mural-esque full-motion videos or in-engine talks at the war table with a rather abhorrent amount of chromatic aberration slathered all over. Many a tide-turning event happens offscreen and combined with a cast that, despite solid English voicework, keep me as interested as the scribbles I’ve seen on a pizza box hundreds of times over. It’s no War of the Lions, but for fans of fictional history and resource, it’ll fit the bill. To tie a bow on all this, Ramin Djawadi and Brandon Campbell’s score accompanies this game perfectly as well as their prior works—it’s there, I guess.
And to speak on visuals a bit, the game doesn’t look all too shabby. Despite the attempts to hide low-resolution textures and reflections, the staunch commitment to the game’s gritty and dark art style is presented nicely throughout the game. I have a fondness for Taiki’s art style, but I wish it was translated better to 3D models. For keen eyes, it’s an Unreal Engine game through and through, but I commend the attempts to polish up the game with what was likely a limited budget.
A Tactical Retreat
The DioField Chronicle is a great real-time strategy game for consoles. It controls well, the stages aren’t too long, and there’s enough mechanical depth to make stage replays interesting. Although I couldn’t be bothered with the game’s story, the scenes themselves don’t last long and all of it can be skipped at any point. I would have liked some more quality-of-life features such as always-on enemy range marking, but what’s missing hardly impacts the gameplay. This is a game I can recommend to tactics and JRPG fans alike.
|Reviewed On||Xbox Series X|
|Available On||Xbox Series, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PC/Steam|
|Release Date||21st of September, 2022|
|ESRB / PEGI Ratings||T for Teen – Blood, Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes / PEGI 16 – Violence|