Fae Tactics is an upcoming strategy RPG by Endlessfluff Games. It is set in the same universe as Legend of Fae, a rather obscure match-3 RPG the company released back in 2011. The game has a demo available as part of the Steam Game Festival, so I decided to give it a try for myself.
Fae Tactics is set in a colorful, whimsical fantasy world that humans share with a magical race of creatures call the fae. The two races have never been on good terms, and lately conflicts between humans and fae have become increasingly common.
You play as Peony, a young girl with the ability to use magic. Such individuals are very rare, and many consider them an ill omen. Peony travels the world with two friendly fae companions named Chico and Payachin, and together the trio find themselves drawn into the escalating confrontations between humanity and the fae.
So far, Fae Tactics is mostly just a linear set of battles that you travel to through a menu, interspliced with cutscenes that advance the plot. Since the demo only really consists of tutorial missions and the first true boss fight, its impossible to tell how much the game will open up later on, if at all.
Luckily, the combat mechanics in Fae Tactics are pretty fun, and strike a good balance between accessibility and depth. The game mentions it’s “menuless” combat as one of its main draws. In practical terms, this means that the game’s UI mostly consists of unit cards with icons and tooltips displaying relevant information.
During a unit’s turn, they are given the chance to move and attack. Due to its menuless nature, Fae Tactics has an interesting take on more advanced concepts like skills and spells. Each character and unit has a skill that automatically activates when they are selected to wait.
In the case of Peony, her next attack will bounce to nearby enemies, while her canine companion, Chico, with intercept attacks that target allies within a certain radius around him. There are also counter-skills that have a chance to trigger when a character is attacked.
The core foundation of Fae Tactics‘ combat is elemental strengths and weaknesses. If you want to land critical hits, and thus do more damage, you’ll need to remember them. Most of them are common sense, like how fire is strong against ice and earth, while water is strong against fire.
Another core part of combat is the combo system. If a friendly melee character is in combat with your target, then they will perform a follow-up attack, so you’ll want to try to gang up on enemies without letting them get a chance to surround you.
Peony can also bring three spell cards into battle, which are displayed on the left side of the screen. Each of these cards can be played at any point during your turn, and have rather lengthy cooldowns. You start the game with three.
These include an attack spell that deals three hits of ice damage, a healing spell that restores a small amount of health to all allies, and a targeted heal that also regenerates a small amount of HP at the end of the target’s turn over the course of several rounds.
Besides main characters like Peony, Chico, and Payachin, the rest of your party consists of fae that are bound to Peony via talisman cards. These are automatically summoned at the start of battle, and while they gain experience and level up, there is no real penalty if they fall in battle like with main characters.
Peony has a control rating that determines how many talismans she can bring into battle, with each one taking up one or two of her slots, depending on how powerful they are.
While the menuless combat system helps streamline Fae Tactics to ensure that combat is relatively fast, I do wish that they game gave you a little bit more information. Some things, like enemy wait skills and spells, aren’t displayed to you in tooltips, which would be rather useful information to have.
Fae Tactics has a relatively simple character progression system as well. As characters level up, you can put a trait point into one of three categories. Characters can also have one piece of gear equipped at once.
While the game is fairly simple and straightforward, I do really like the combat in Fae Tactics. It captures the general feel of games like Final Fantasy Tactics or Fell Seal without bogging you down in too many concepts and mechanics. The demo is pretty easy, but that is to be expected from what is essentially just the first hour of the game, with about half of that being tutorial battles.
My biggest complaint so far is the game’s resolution. Some of the art, character portraits, and menus look really blurry, which is a shame because the game’s aesthetic is really nice. The game doesn’t have resolution options in the options menu yet, so I assume that the blurriness is due to the game playing in a lower resolution that it is trying to stretch out to fit my monitor.
Small complaints aside, Fae Tactics is shaping up to be a cheerful and colorful strategy RPG with mechanics that hit a good balance between being fast, streamlined, and accessible, while still offering some tactical depth to each encounter. If you want to try it for yourself, you can find the demo on the game’s Steam page.