Your story begins with 3 of the king’s loyal vassals: the legendary Knight, the kindly Priestess, and the jerkly Marksman. They’re travelling through Stonewynn Forest on their way to Stonewynn Castle to report to the king.
Naturally, ♥♥♥♥ hits the fan.
All manner of monsters start appearing, attacking the unlucky denizens of a sleepy little town located in the forest and then your party, forcing you, the mysterious, all-seeing force that guides our heroes to learn the art of combat in a tutorial that is fantastically organic to the game.
I won’t spoil anything, but you do end up going on a quest to save, the world as you know if from some otherworldly villain who seeks to destroy human existence.
Tactics, tactics, tactics.
Battles are not random and you can see an enemy running swiftly towards you from a mile away. There are 8 total unit types, each with 20 unique skills that are a mixture of active and passive.
You control four of these units at once, each an archetypal RPG class by selecting them (either with your mouse or a corresponding hot key) and then right-clicking an enemy or area on the battlefield. Like lambs, they’ll follow your directions to the letter, auto attacking until the target meets its demise.
There’s a lot of micromanagement in combat, however: units will attack the next target only if it’s on top of them. Otherwise, they’ll stand idly by until you tell them to carry on. Your forces will almost always be outnumbered, so you’ll need to march your knight about, drawing the aggro of the enemy and hoping Priestess’s heals will be enough to keep him alive because your other units who are oh-so squishy and tender, won’t withstand a focused assault for very long.
Finally, we’ve got dodgeable attacks that do a lot of damage, but can be avoided if you move your unit out of the way in time.
I love this level of micromanagement as it’s engaging without being annoying.
After defeating a foe, you’re rewarded with experience and gold. At the end of the battle, foes drop little satchels and sometimes chests—both of which contain a random assortment of up to 3 goodies.
Once you’ve earned enough experience to level up, you get a talent point which can be used to strengthen the active skills you use in combat or the passive skills that add helpful benefits to each class.
You’re also able to change equipment, which can be found, bought, and later upgraded in any shop. Old equipment and junk items can be salvaged for scrap, which not only frees up inventory space but also allows you to upgrade your weapons and armor. Accessories cannot be upgraded.
As of Version 126.96.36.199, the game offers companions, non-combative pets that float behind you and offer additional effects.
Outside of combat, there’s a world to explore. The world map has treasure chests to open and locations to visit that may or may not spell certain danger for your heroes it’s worth exploring these areas, however, because you can find equipment and consumables to strengthen your party.
In towns, you can buy and sell things, and upgrade your equipment using gold and scraps. Scraps come from breaking down equipment and junk items. Both your armor and weapons can be upgraded from common–>uncommon–>rare–>legendary
The music in Sentry Knight Tactics is great. From the title screen melody, which sound like the melodious offspring of a Harvest Moon and Final Fantasy track to the upbeat, rallying music that plays during combat, there’s a lot of hum-worthy tunes.
Despite its adorable outer shell at its core, Sentry Knight Tactics is a tactical experience that will challenge even strategy veterans. It’s brutal, its monsters crushing you at any given chance and forcing you to rethink your approach, but not unfair; you’re able to come back from the dead at the nearest cemetery and resume from the point you left off in a series of battles.
There are 3 difficulty settings, so there’s something for those who think themselves master tacticians and those who simply want to enjoy the whimsical story, and also those who fall somewhere in between.
- The game sounds and looks great. Tons of polish.
- The writing is amusing. I especially love how there are no names; only archetypes.
- Varied skills and classes allow for maximum tactics.
- The game is difficult, but not punishing. I’m not particularly fond of games that knock you over and then kick you when you’re down.
- Exploration is rewarded—with loot and Easter eggs.
- Guest appearances by characters from other game worlds, all drawn in the adorable Sentry Knight Tactics’s art style.
- It can get a little grindy. Sometimes it felt like my tactics would never be good enough, so I fought a ton of battles until my units were strong enough to defeat a boss.
- A small inventory, which means a lot of stopping to clear it out. This is likely a personal problem because I always seem to have this issue.
- Upgrade system is shallow. I had maxed everything to legendary within a couple of hours and it didn’t seem to make all that much of a difference.
Sentry Knight Tactics is a great addition to any strategist’s library and the price is right. It’s loads of fun, the talent tree holds a variety of tactical options, and combat is fast and furious, forcing you to think on your feet.
You won’t regret picking it up if you’re looking for a challenging tactical experience with a ton of heart.