2022 was a year of many strategy RPGs; from Triangle Strategy, Sparks of Hope, Tactics Ogre: Reborn, to several that haven’t come out yet, The DioField Chronicle won’t be among them that is remembered fondly. This is a shame too, because there is a lot to like about it.
The DioField Chronicle is a new take on the strategy RPG formula and it could have been great. There is a solid foundation in its concept, but for many reasons it falls short. Where does it all go wrong? The DioField Chronicle is a blur of mistakes and sloppy design choices, but not all of it is obvious at first.
At first glance, you think this would have a lot of potential. It has a serious looking art style with cool character designs. The voice acting is decent. Each character is defined and has clear motivations. The performance and image quality also manages to be consistent. Where does it all go wrong? Find out in The DioField Chronicle review!
The DioField Chronicle
Developer: Square Enix, LANCARSE Ltd.
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Release Date: September 22, 2022
Price: $59.99 USD
The opening hours as The DioField Chronicle drip-feeds its gameplay features start out reasonably enough. Battles play out in a semi real-time combat system with four units that are individually controlled and directed by the player.
Cycling through each character or selecting them with the cursor is reliable and functional as one would hope. Commanding all units or individual ones to specific points on the field is tight and accurate. This is consistent throughout the entire game.
When characters are moving along their directed route, path-finding never fails and is only understandably interrupted by enemy encounters. At any time, players can pause the action to immediately issue special attacks which all have their bespoke properties and range. The DioField Chronicle proves to have solid mechanics and a foundation ripe with possibilities.
The DioField Chronicle‘s cracks begin to show several hours in with the horrible realization that the battle system is extremely limited. A lot of the reason is due to the game’s balance leaning too far in the player’s favor. In my playtime, the first four hours were played on normal.
After several crucial battles that I violently dominated, I bumped up to hard and it made very little difference. Every party member that can be used in battle gets an unusually high EP pool- the points used for their special abilities. Most of these techniques have a low cost, have devastating damage, and have very short cool-downs.
On top of each party member being overpowered (even the healers), players also have awe-inspiring summons that annihilate entire armies. These don’t cost EP- summoning cost is from building up a gauge that can have multiple charges and each summon requires one or more to cast. Its all too easy to fill up the meter and unload a bunch of summons to make short work of boss enemies.
To make matters worse; not only is The DioField Chronicle not challenging, it’s also terribly boring. The terrain is never a factor in any battle- every encounter is done on flat surfaces with no varying height or winding paths. There are also not many of them and terrain gets recycled throughout the scenario.
Enemy units are almost all the same and don’t require any strategizing at all. The most effective formula is to overwhelm foes with special attacks. There is no planning involved at all- just rush everything you see, like a bull.
EP and HP reserves won’t run dry easily either because enemies drop restorative pick-ups. Sometimes the battlefield has these power-ups lying around for nothing.
The four character party limit is also too restrictive considering how many characters are in the game. There are 16 total recruitable characters all split between four classes. Only four can be used in battle and another four can be “support”. This amounts to the supporting character becoming an equipped item where the host character gets access to the support character’s abilities. In the end, only four are used in battle.
As if the party wasn’t overpowered enough, the player gets to further strengthen the heroes with gear that comes with unique abilities. It gets to a point where the stats stop mattering and only the most powerful attacks become priority. The skill-tree is also redundant- offering mostly perks that are too specific or minor to ever be useful.
The DioField Chronicle needs a complete overhaul and rebalancing of its systems to work as intended. It comes off like the developers were not confident and were desperately trying to make something to appeal to mobile gamers. Enemies needed to be more of a threat and players should be able to have a larger party, because four is too small.
After sleepwalking through most of the war in DioField, maybe the story is compelling to carry the boring gameplay? Regretfully, The DioField Chronicle‘s scenario is very dull and not exciting. Most of the story’s scenes are set in the HQ and involve characters sitting around and talking dryly about the war.
There is hardly anyone likable in this story as it unfurls and the if there is a character that is not a total scumbag, it is because they are barely developed. The only exception to this is Iscarion, the ranger; a man who showed a considerable amount of growth, though he isn’t even one of the main characters.
Andrias, the protagonist, ends up being one of the more detestable characters in the story. It has nothing to do with his performance or design, but his actions. He comes off as a bad guy and characters who are close to him don’t react much at all. The DioField Chronicle comes off as rushed or large chunks of the story is missing. A lot of crucial events are only told and never shown.
For all its shortcomings, The DioField Chronicle is still an interesting experience that is worth playing. It might make for a wonderful experience for gamers who are new to strategy RPGs and just want a slick looking game with some pretty characters in it.
The DioField Chronicle is also fairly light on its run-time; clocking in under 25 hours. For a strategy RPG, that is very brief. Most games in this genre are very deep with complex character building systems or have elaborate battles that can take a while to negotiate. The DioField Chronicle keeps things brisk; even the battles won’t take long.
For some gamers, The DioField Chronicle‘s brevity will be positive feature. The reality is that The DioField Chronicle lacks enough substance to be any longer than it already is and even then- it still ends up recycling content and lacks variety.
The DioField Chronicle was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by Square Enix. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. The DioField Chronicle is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch.