Brad? Do you wanna play a rogue-lite? Sure, why not? What is it? Get your Bingo card ready! Because we have Trials of Fire.
Roguelite – Check
Deck Building – Check
Turn-based Tactics – Check
2D – Check
That’s almost HOUSE! Yeah, colour me interested because despite not being great at deck-builders, I cannot help but play them time and time again. So what does Trials of Fire offer to stand out from the pack?
Well, the truth is, nothing. But that isn’t a bad thing. Developers Whatboy Games have taken what has come before and crafted an overall experience that feels a joy to play. Actually, saying it does nothing to stand out is doing the game a disservice. Each element may have been seen before but never worked this well into a single package.
The RPG trappings are well realised for one. It gives enough exposition to make you want to play repeatedly, despite the rogue-lite nature of the game. Not Hades level of story-telling, but certainly doing a good job. Quests have a bit of meat to them, and new characters feel different to your starting heroes.
There is a lot of game around just the main turn-based battles, but it is fleeting enough that you are never once kept out of the main action for too long. Whilst at the same time, there is an encouragement to tempt you into exploring the map. It is a jam-packed game, yet never feeling like a chore.
The visual style, by the way, is magical. I’ve seen games that use a book that comes to life style aesthetic before, but this still feels fresh. The turning pages really invoke a feeling of being told a magical, mythical story. This really is a looker of a game.
The main pull of Trails of Fire comes from the turn-based combat. Here we are treated to a mixture of traditional deck-building mechanics and ‘light’ versions of games such as Final Fantasy Tactics or Banner Saga, where your positioning on the battlefield is important.
A fear I had early was that this would all become too much for me to cope with, and I would bounce off after my first failed run. But despite numerous layers to the game, it feels like it has been playtested to death to make sure it is as accessible as it is deep and complex.
As it is a rogue-lite and not a roguelike, there is a good amount of permanent progression after every run, whether it is successful or not, which really helps with my desire to push forward. This becomes vital as new squad members only get unlocked as you complete more and more criteria required to get the unlock. But also, being an RPG, the progression needs to feel substantial enough to drive the over-arching story.
I love these types of games, but I am not an expert; I am not that good. But if a game like this can still be enjoyable and have me think I am doing well. Then it nails it for me, and Trials of Fire absolutely nails it.
Trials of Fire is available now on Steam for around £15 from Whatboy Games