Children of Zodiarcs – Review

PC RELEASE: July 18th 2017

From the ashes of a horrendous war, new societies arose and found peace. However, this peace was but just a fleeting moment, as old weapons of the war, Zodiarc Relics, were uncovered and their purpose rediscovered. In the turmoil of a fractured society, step into the shoes of Nahmi, as she battles her way through the struggle for existence.

“I sing for the mountain, I sing for the sky.
I sing for the eagle, flying so high.
I sing for the river, I sing for the sea.
I sing for my people.
Who sings for me?”
– Nahmi

In a fractured society where the Nobles lived in cities, the commoners were left to fight for their own survival outside; in the Shambles. In between the Shambles and the city of Torus, was the Inbetween; a land ruled by cannibals. Step into the shoes of an orphaned child, Nahmi, as she journeys through the Inbetweens time and time again, running errands for the “Daddy” of her Family back in the Shambles.

The game can be played using a controller or keyboard and mouse, and offers a variety of languages (English, Dutch, French, Spanish and Italian). On the surface, Children of Zodiarcs looks just like a turn-based strategic RPG (think Final Fantasy Tactics) packaged together with a storyline that is not stereotypical of your standard RPGs. However, it resembles more of a board game, with cards and dice, which has materialised in the form of a video game.

coz_deck building

Furthermore, it utilises the digital medium to introduce a handful of novel game mechanics that sets it apart from both board games and turn-based RPGs. For example, there is Dice Crafting, whereby you can change up to three faces of a die (one face at a time) that you own by combining it with other dice, allowing you to modify the odds of successful rolls.

Speaking of dice rolls, you actually get to shake the dice around on your screen before letting them loose. You can then select up to two dice to re-roll and take yet another gamble. While that sounds like a great idea, do take note that the two dice can and will collide with the other dice already resting on the board… Changing their final results. So be prepared to wince in agony as the results that you thought were optimal might just become warped with every re-roll you make.

coz_dice roll

There exists a counter attack mechanic within the game as well, which brings about another layer of depth in how you craft your dice and your dice re-roll selection. However, there seems to be a lack of anti-crowd control measures in the game. In some stages, enemies will keep your characters rooted turn after turn as they pummel you to death from a distance. That being said, if you cannot beat them, join them!

As each battle in this game can take from anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour, it is a great relief when we discovered that you could suspend the game and come back to it later. That being said, part of the long duration is due to the attack animations being rather slow. They are also mostly repeated and can get mundane after a while.

The game offers side quests to provide contexts and alternative perspectives to the main storyline, which makes it even more wholesome. Furthermore, the subtle puns injected into the conversations between characters that seemingly break the fourth wall were entertaining, making the reading almost as good as the fighting!

VERDICT
Fans of board games rejoice! For the Children of Zodiarcs is a digital board game that has captured the excitement of rolling the dice in a turn-based strategy game. For the fans of turned-based RPGs, why not add in the element of dice rolls to your regular number crunching? While the game is slightly rough around some of its edges, the beautiful art, witty writing and intriguing storyline is enough to account for its flaws.

RATING: 8 out of 10

Written by: Ivan Liew

Monster Hunter enthusiast. Loves the biological sciences and is also an ecology and evolution geek. Above all else, I am as human as any of you are. Or am I?

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