This is how we roll!
Children of Zodiarcs is a beautiful crafted and well presented looking game. It has a unique art style that shows love and care has gone into its world. It is a game that I was keen on trying out with its Strategy role-playing elements that can be seen in other games such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Disgaea.
The charm can be felt as early as the beginning even as you play an over-sized character known as Zirchhoff who menacingly provokes noble guards as you fight your way through a noble tower. At first you feel like a big brute picking on a bunch of weak small guards until it becomes apparent that you are fighting against an upper-class government who make life difficult for the poor and weak who are suffering. The game centres around a group of orphans who are part of a gang run by Zirchhoff who rebel against these nobles. The characters grow really well as you progress and the story becomes quite the charm many points in the game.
What makes Children of Zodiarcs really unique in comparison to other Strategy role-playing games is its dice rolling and deck drawing elements in battle. Veterans to this sort of genre will have no trouble at all fitting into its battle system as the concept is mostly similair if not the same. You take turns in moving characters on a map and choosing which square to occupy and initiate attacks. The difference here is that initiating attacks requires drawing cards and rolling dice; this brings an element of luck to the field.
As you begin battles with a deck of cards you are able to perform actions with the pre-set of cards; after each turn then a new card is drawn from your deck. Initiating actions themselves also require a roll of dice; these dice have symbols on which affect the outcome of attacks and include being able to deal extra damage; heal yourself or being able to draw another card. You are able to re-roll dice but only once which will let you try to get a better result if you didn’t the first time. Counter attack are always a feature in Children of Zodiarcs provided you are in front of the enemy and within range. Enemies cannot counter long-range attacks or magic spells or attacks from behind. Attacking from behind is the best way for getting critical attacks but enemies can also do it to you so facing the best direction when planning attacks is crucial to success.
As there is an element of luck in which cards are drawn success is achieved by playing cards correctly; early on this isn’t too much of an issue but as the game ranks up in difficulty very quickly it becomes apparent. At this point in the game decks and dice builds can actually be pre-built before heading into battle which is a must if you want to succeed. You will be able to fight in skirmishes which will appear on the map and allows you to partake in fights at earlier points of the game to build up your characters level and obtain stronger cards.
What makes the battle system real unique is that elements that players are used to have been stripped away; there is no cost of using the best spell to your advantage or being able to throw a health potion when your health drops low; your resources are what decks and dice you take into each battle and these are key to victory.
The game can feel very unfair at times especially if you go into battle unprepared. Some story fights can last as long as an hour and it is still possible to fall at the last hurdle. It is possible however to finish some fights without fighting every enemy and some require your party to be occupying the exit; this isn’t the case with all fights but it is a welcome addition when it is.
Children of Zodiarcs is a tale told through on screen text; there is no voice acting however that it is a minor issue that players of this genre will not see fault with and if anything it helps to capture the pleasant soundtrack in the game.
There is not much to do outside of the combat aspect in Children of Zodiarcs. The overworld map is as simple as moving forward with your characters icon; you can choose to progress or go back and do skirmishes aswell as get a lot of background information on your characters; the game doesn’t tell this too much primarily so if you want to know everything about your party this is the way in doing so.
Although I mentioned how beautiful the game and its world is I do feel that animations in battle do seem somewhat lacking; this does not deter me in anyway from the game as it is still very fun to play but being its core element it would of been nice to see more variety in battle; the cards are nice to look at however; the dice are always fun to roll and the gameplay is there.
A PlayStation 4 Review Code was provided by Square Enix Collective