Imagine a world where cats and dogs fight. Now give ’em weapons. That’s how you get Cross Tails, a turn-based strategy role-playing game (“SRPG”) developed by Rideon Inc. and published by KEMCO. Cross Tails marks another entry in Rideon’s line of SRPGs, improving on mechanics from previous games and also utilising 3D models and environments for the first time. What comes of it is a fun, remarkable adventure featuring two campaigns, lots of choice for equipment and classes, and solid level design mixed with strong strategy mechanics.
Here, walk with me to the war room—there’s quite a bit to talk about.
It’s Tail Time
Just like all SRPGs, Cross Tails primarily has players focusing their time between two main tasks: managing their units (gear, jobs, and whatnot) and strategically placing them across varied map types to accomplish whatever objective has been set (usually bonking baddies). Cross Tails isn’t all that different from the many games in this genre but it does a great job of making its mechanics matter. For example, the game has a ‘hate’ meter (aggro/enmity for us MMOers) that affects what units the enemy will prioritise on the battlefield. This meter can be a life saver and also can be used as the basis of a lot of your strategies.
Preparing your units ahead of time is a good idea, and there’s a lot of options you can work with. There are classes and subclasses that determine your skills (mage, warrior, that good stuff), a skill tree that you build out, weapons and armour along with rune properties, strategies, beliefs. Honestly I was blown away by how much choice you have in customising your units. Though even if you build out a chunky character with a good skill list you’ll still need to wait out for your mana points to charge up during battle. But gear can help offset this.
Once you’re out on the field, all that matters is clearing out the bad guys. Positioning matters a lot, because having your back turned to the baddies can spell big trouble for you (and likewise for the muppets). Status effects can also do a big number on your units and can be life or death depending on the circumstances. Still, even if you fail a chapter you can simply retire to the map screen and try again. Or do ‘free battles’, which are essential to grinding.
But grinding can get boring, especially when you’re trying to rank up classes. That’s why you can use the auto-battle function to repeatedly clear out those free battle maps. And well, now’s a good time as ever to talk about the game’s artificial intelligence (“AI”). It’s good, a bit too good perhaps. Enemies will approach and back off when appropriate, baddies heal and buff one another, and subsequently lay the smackdown on you if you’re not spreading out your company proper. This does come to a downside however, as I often found myself being heavily zoned at the map’s starting point playing defense rather than offense.
Sure, the maps themselves are tiny and can accomadate for this kind of gameplay. But it can get a little boring having to be on your guard all the time, especially on higher difficulties where enemy units can easily wipe you. Of course this aggressiveness also applies when you use the auto-battle function for your team. Equipped and set with the right AI setting, you’ll watch as your little troops decimate the enemy team. Potentially making you doubt you’re skills as a commander.
You can’t use this function on all maps with gauranteed success. There are still times you’ll get wrecked by terrain advantage or map objective, forcing you to take over. But I felt that the game does a good job of balancing auto play alongside fun core gameplay mechanics.
Playing through the campaign you’ll choose to side with either the cats or the dogs. Or wolves, I think. There’s not really much to say about the story that isn’t already in the game’s store description much less what one thinks of when the acronym ‘SRPG’ comes to mind. War, parents dead, round table talks, etcetera. To be fair to Cross Tails, its narrative is at least paced fairly well and the characters are likeable. Though part of that likeability stems from the game’s art direction. Alongside Cross Tails’ colourful art direction is the lovely character design and portrait art. I am a simple man: I see soft, fluffy art, I quickly fall in love. Another plus is that, like all KEMCO titles, Cross Tails’ saves transfer seamlessly between your PC and console. Always love that part.
Cross Tails is a solid strategy title with strong mechanics and plenty of user choice when it comes to unit customisation along with pleasant visuals and music. Despite the small map sizes, the enemy units provide a good challenge that even some lifelong SRPG developers struggle to accomplish. It’s a ‘thumbs up’ from me.
Xbox Series X, PC
- Solid selection of class and weapon types.
- Strategy mechanics are varied and implemented well. It's fun to execute plans.
- Intelligent enemy AI keeps you on your toes and can easily wipe you if you're not paying attention.
- Nice visual style and lovely character art.
- Map designs are solid but too small. Compounded with vicious AI, often leaves you with little choice but to play defense.
- Speaking of AI, it's really aggressive—and that includes the auto-battle function.