Forged of Blood is Critical Forge’s take on the turn-based tactical RPG. Its Kickstarter did not meet its goal, but it has nevertheless managed to see full release 1 August 2019. It has many layers that you can see in its skill trees, weapon rarities and even travelling on the world map. You play as the second son of a murdered king, and you will help him rise to power through your actions.
This is one game I would recommend to start from the options menu. There are no difficulty settings as you might be familiar with (Easy, Normal, Hard presets). Instead, you are presented with sliders to determine the level of challenge you want. Unfortunately, I had spent too much time getting killed on the second or third quests due to my units missing and enemy hits – without using modifiers – to progress very far. I wouldn’t say it’s a strict indicator of steep difficulty, but do keep in mind the default might be tougher than expected.
Tutorials are front-loaded in various text boxes, with the option to get used to the controls in a prologue mission. You are outright told the battle is not meant to be won, so you can play around before you’re ready to move on. You won’t learn much of the king, but you can at least learn of his heroic sacrifice.
I would make a joke about a medieval fantasy X-COM here. After skewing every option in my favour, this Stone sacer still landed a 19% hit. You’ll have to get used to seeing your hits miss, and your enemy’s connect. Units cannot move through another, so exploiting that can be key to victory. You can learn a skill to pass through allied units in the skill tree later on.
The presentation is reminiscent of medieval/Ancient Rome aesthetics. The narration of the sketchy parchment movies feel quite impactful, though I do have one nitpick regarding the lack of subtitles. Nevertheless, story parts are not voiced, instead showing up as dialogue boxes. Speaking of voices, the battle cries and grunts in battle can be hit or miss depending on how you feel about acting quality. Voiced scenarios aren’t a major part in the beginning, to say the least. The music is decent and fits the feel of the game. If there are more impactful pieces, I did not play enough to encounter them.
In the game proper, you’ll be presented with a beautiful world map. Markers indicate various quests, and you’ll be provided with the quest name and time taken to travel. One of the first things to note is that you have a time limit till the Rebellion catches up with you. As you progress, areas on the map will change colour, presumably to indicate the territory holder. I felt that movement on default speed was quite slow, but there are speed up options, thankfully.
Dialogue options can skew your alignment in various ways. By default, you cannot see what they do unless you turn it on in the options menu. Immediate effects are generally dialogue changes, and the system brings promise of more long-term rippling effects. With this in mind, Forged of Blood is not something I would recommend for newbies to tactical RPGs. As mentioned, there are many moving parts even on the surface.
You need to menu and manage your characters before or while they’re moving on the map. Travel will pause as you tinker with your skill points, so fret not on that. Once you reach a quest marker, you will be thrown into battle. Along the way, you can also get encounters with the rebellion soldiers or creatures.
You gain general experience after battle, but you must have a specific weapon equipped to get points for a weapon type. Each character can equip two sets of gear: two-handed weapon or magic/weapon and shield/dual-wielding. You have individual skill trees for each weapon, so if you plan to master a weapon, starting on it as soon as possible would probably be the best. There are also equipment rarities and armour classes.
If you’re a veteran of turn-based tactics, and looking for something meaty and new, Forged of Blood could be the game for you. There’s still much more you can discover in your journey to reclaim your throne. The world of Attiras awaits.