The DioField Chronicle
For the past two years, Square Enix has been experiencing a bit of a creative flex with several releases both developed and published by the JRPG giant. Sequels, spin-offs, remasters, and brand new IPs have all been staples in the Square Enix catalog, the latest being The DioField Chronicle. Perhaps its announcement was as sudden as its released, letting players know of its existence during the same State Of Play as Valkyrie Elysium, set to release later this week.
Unfortunately, they can't all be winners. Last week it was announced that Babylon's Fall, a game often considered the worst of the year, was cut offline mere months after its release. Following this, it's understandable for fans of Square to be hesitant about a new IP. Fortunately, The DioField Chronicle plays it safe although sometimes a bit too safe at times. It's a Tactical RPG heavily inspired by a high fantasy franchise including Game Of Thrones. Some of the actors from the show as well as two of its composers had worked on the title, so the feeling was intentional.
DioField was co-developed with Lancarse, a developer that had worked on various Shin Megami Tensei titles as well as Monark, the Gothic-style RPG from earlier this year. The gameplay, as mentioned earlier, is in line with Tactical RPGs similar to Final Fantasy Tactics. The caveat is that all fighting is done in real-time. You command a unit as you clear your objective, whether it's defeating an enemy or siege a chokehold point. As it is in real time, there are certain things to take note of from the beginning of the game.
Initially, you control three units, a rogue, a soldier, and a knight. The knight is the only unit on a horse so he has the benefit of mobility on his side. Likewise, the soldier can withstand damage as her best role is in the front. Lastly, the rogue's job is to sneak towards the enemy's flank and show up unsuspectingly. Attacks towards a unit's rear will deal critical damage, meaning that it's beneficial for a tank to capture the enemy aggro while the other units attack the enemy's rear, doing bonus damage.
If this system sounds remotely familiar, then it would seem I'm not the only one to think of Final Fantasy 14. It's not just because the protagonist, Rias, is voiced by an important character in Endwalker either. The way the combat flows is similar to a dungeon in 14, where there's someone meant to keep the enemy's attention while everyone else eliminates the threat as quickly as possible. Thinking about the gameplay for DioField Chronicle this way rather than "An RTS with moveable units" made this game intriguing from a gameplay perspective.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on if you favor gameplay above all else, there are things lacking with this title. There's something about the character models, their animations, the way they lip sync, and dialogue that screams "low budget title." As such, you could move around the stronghold but this is merely to talk to your allies, gather side quests, and other necessities. The majority of the missions are held in the war room where tasks such as "infiltrate this bandit group" are given.
Players are rewarded for completing each mission as well as other bonus objectives including time and lack of casualties. There are places with treasure should the player go off the beaten path, but generally it's best to stick to the mission. The player can always see where there's a line of sight from the enemy so ambushes are left to the care of the player. Honestly, the fact that the gameplay is in real-time is what makes this enjoyable.
With that being said, the story is the typical "must save world from evil with a band of unlikely heroes." There is an intro that tells the current state of the world and the first battle is protecting a high-ranking officer from a bandit attack, but none of this drew me in quite as the fighting did. If you're a fan of the Game of Thrones-type of lore and aesthetic, The DioField Chronicle may be something of enjoyment for you. Otherwise, despite its rather unique and fun gameplay, I wasn't engaged as much as I'd like to be in an RPG story. Perhaps catch this one on sale.
The DioFiend Chronicle is available on the Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S.