With Square Enix preparing to have a busy end to 2022 – the likes of The DioField Chronicle, Crisis Core – Final Fantasy VII – Reunion and Star Ocean: The Divine Force are all due for release on Xbox – it is only fair to give potential suitors a look at one of them. There is a free demo out on the Xbox Store for The DioField Chronicle and, after giving it a play, we are all the more eagerly awaiting the full release.
In The DioField Chronicle, you control a small band of fighters. A tragic event occurred some years ago that is vaguely referred to in the prologue, and since then this band of warriors have been traversing the world. They come across some bandits attacking a carriage and step in to help, and in doing so save a woman who can get them into a wider army. It all seems a bit too easy for this warrior trio, and perhaps their way into something far deeper they have been searching for for a while.
As The DioField Chronicle is a tactical RPG from Square Enix – arguably the forefathers of the genre as it is commonly known – fans are rightly intrigued by what the game offers. In this playable demo, you can play the entire first chapter, and even transfer data over to the main game. It is an interesting offer, and clearly shows that Square Enix have faith in their end product.
It isn’t a traditional tactical RPG however, and that is made blatantly apparent as soon as you gain control of your units. For starters, there is no grid that would traditionally accompany a tactical RPG. The DioField Chronicle fuses turn-based tactical and real-time strategy, presenting an amalgamation of them both. You still control your units on the battlefield and can command them to use their abilities which will also pause the game. Engage in combat though and it will only end when there is a victor, or you run away. It feels like a natural evolution in the same way that turn-based RPGs are almost a thing of the past.
The DioField Chronicle also throws away the pixel art style synonymous with tactical RPGs from those at the very beginning to more modern entries such as Wargroove. It still has an art style that gives it a real identity, but it is much more modern.
Another comparison to make would be with Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. This is first and foremost a story of an impending war happening on the mainland that the island of DioField will have no option but to join in with at some point. The main narrative of Final Fantasy XII was, personally speaking, what let it down from being one of the best Final Fantasy titles, but the war plot in The DioField Chronicle has me excited.
Not only that, but the typeface for The DioField Chronicle really reminds of Final Fantasy XII. It is clean, easy to read and understand, and the UI isn’t too cluttered.
Tactical RPGs have always felt like playing a board game, and The DioField Chronicle wants to replicate that feeling in its appearance too. Character models have an almost sculpture-like aesthetic to them, like they have been painted like a board game piece. This then matches up with the battlefields you will be fighting on. It isn’t immediately apparent on the first couple of missions you are sent on, that are predominantly set in a more rural setting. But the third mission has you defending an urbanised area and you can really get a sense of the diorama inspired environments.
We aren’t talking Wartile here, where the environment was a diorama that you could easily display on a mantelpiece with very little else. In The DioField Chronicle, again it feels like a fusion between these diorama-esque settings and a more lifelike map. But there is still a real beauty to everything.
In between missions you have a hub area where you can relax a bit. Here you will find all your other allies and other NPCs to interact with. There is also a shop, laboratory to improve weapons and level up abilities and more. Certain areas are blocked off initially, but even during the demo you’ll find that new areas open up.
The demo for The DioField Chronicle is the entire first chapter of the game, which is a generous offering which really lets you get a feel. Progress can even be transferred over to the main game when it becomes available on 22nd September 2022. We are assuming that means game progress, items and levels, though this has not been confirmed. Either way, this is a decent length for a trial, and things are looking positive for the full release.
The demo for The DioField Chronicle is on the Xbox Store now if you want to give it a try for yourself. It’s also on the stores of PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and PC. Things are looking very positive for The DioField Chronicle, and this demo is just enough to whet your appetite for a bit more. Thankfully, there isn’t much longer to wait, as the release date is imminent.
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The DioField Chronicle releases come 22nd September on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.