The announcement of a Netflix Dark Crystal series and an accompanying tactics RPG at E3 earlier this year came out of total left field for me. I like the original film but I’m not a huge fan, and I actually find the heroic Gelflings far more frightening than the villainous Skeksis. But even if I don’t end up watching the new show, I might end up playing The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics, a title made to appeal to both fans of the Dark Crystal franchise and tactics RPG genre.
I played through two levels in my demo. The first was an introductory stage in which I controlled a single character, freeing other Gelflings from the webs of giant spiders and learning how movement and combat worked. The second was a more difficult change from a ways into the game, in which I was given a choice of three units and tasked with driving off the Skeksis Chamberlain in a wooded area.
The presentation of the game has a miniature-like look to it, as if you’re moving around pieces on a beautifully-built board. And the terrain isn’t just for show. For instance, units get advantages on high ground, and the developers told me there will be other interactions with the world throughout the game.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics is much more Final Fantasy Tactics or X-COM than Fire Emblem. In particular, the developers were influenced by Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Battles are fought at a much smaller scale than those in Fire Emblem titles, and units have many more abilities at their disposal. In my demo, I used Silence effects to stop enemy mages from casting spells, Marked targets to set them up for more damage, and suffered turn losses from being Stunned.
I attempted the second scenario twice and lost both times. On the default difficulty, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics is a tough game. However, a loss will always reward experience to the last of your units to fall, meaning any given battle is never a total wash. Additionally, a “Story” mode will allow players who are fans of the franchise but not necessarily into deep tactics to play through the game in a more laid-back way.
And the game isn’t just a playable version of the Netflix series. It goes beyond the events of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance to give players brand new experiences in the world of Thra. Tons of characters, jobs, and lore awaits, and the developers told me that players likely won’t be able to find all of them in a single playthrough.
If you’re a fan of The Dark Crystal or tactics RPGs, keep an eye on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics. The developers have done an admirable job of building a deep, customizable RPG that’s also accessible to new players who might have gotten into the genre through something like Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The game releases later this year on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam.
While you’re here, check out the rest of our PAX West 2019 coverage, including titles like Marvel’s Avengers and new tech like Google Stadia.