Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi and Mistwalker have turned their eyes to the smartphones for their latest RPG. With the popularity of games like Clash of Clans, Puzzle & Dragons, and Monster Strike, it’s not a strange decision, but how does a gachapon system and energy-gating play out when it comes to a character-based tactical RPG? Surprisingly well, if you’re willing to limit yourself to playing a bit each day.
Your party is formed by recruiting companions at the tavern. These characters can be purchased for coins (in-game currency acquired through battles) or energy (the cash shop currency, also doled out for login bonuses, holidays, special events, and the like). Characters acquired with energy are guaranteed to be named heroes that come with powerful abilities and three different jobs, with skills that can transfer from profession to profession to create a customized powerhouse. These characters are graded from rank B to rank SS; while SS characters are the most rare and often come with specialized abilities, they take significantly longer to level up and may require scarce special materials to unlock their jobs.
The core of combat is sandwiching enemies between your characters to execute basic attacks that play to the paper-rock-scissors core system of spears, bows, and swords. You can move one character per turn, and you only have four seconds to move the unit where you’d like – a process made more complex by the fact you can “bump” other units with your active unit to move them into position as well. All the action takes place on various grid stages that may contain environmental hazards or boons that add depth to each fight.
This system may seem ridiculously simple, but when you bring abilities into play (each character can equip up to eight), things get substantially more interesting. Job classes and skills keep the game going strong day-to-day, and offer players tons of choices. All the classic RPG archetypes are available – tanks, healers, mages – but specialists provide abilities that may work best for certain stages, like characters with confusion, levitation, paralysis, or sleep.
Currently, Terra Battle has 30 chapters, most with 10 stages. This functions as the single-player “story,” but we’ve already seen a few side dungeons like Bahamut, which gave all players a chance to recruit the powerful S-rank monster and locate appropriate job acquisition materials. Missions cost more stamina to attempt as you continue, but your maximum stamina pool also grows as you complete chapters.
While you can try and power through the story content, each day of the week has associated hunting dungeons that are designed to get you gold, level up your characters, or collect job materials. Getting all three jobs unlocked for each character is a priority for me, so I spend a considerable amount of time on these collection events instead of pushing through chapters. It’s satisfying to keep checking in on your crew and adding new skills as they unlock, forming massive ability chains during combat.
Terra Battle offers compelling character and combat systems, as long as you’re okay not pushing through the game in a short time. The time-gating energy system is less intrusive than other popular mobile games. While energy needs to be spent to acquire the best characters, it’s available for free if you’re patient. Terra Battle also doesn’t feature any annoying card battle staples like sacrificing other characters to level up or spending energy to increase the size of your monster box. Even so, I would love to see a full-featured game without the mobile model in the future. If you can handle playing a few minutes here and there (or longer on sessions involving multi-stage content where every turn needs to be carefully considered), you’ll have a great time. I’d recommend Terra Battle to anyone who plays smartphone games, and would absolutely suggest giving it a go for any tactical RPG enthusiast.
Disclosure: 5 energy (one character from the tavern) was provided for the purposes of this review.
Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi and Mistwalker have turned their eyes to the smartphones for their latest RPG.