I feel like I’ve been playing a lot of turn-based tactics and strategy games lately. There’s a new, excellent X-COM out, and I’m working my way through another title under embargo that utilizes turn-based combat. This isn’t a bad thing—tactics and strategy games can be extremely rewarding, and I’m gracious to be able to review some good ones. That includes Fort Triumph, a fantasy turn-based tactics game with an exploration mechanic that is reminiscent to Heroes of Might and Magic. It turns out that X-COM sensibilities and fantasy are a pretty great combination.
The first thing you’ll notice is that Fort Triumph doesn’t take itself seriously. Its world is inhabited by whimsical bloodthirsty characters, and a mixture of dark and silly humor. Its story is told this way throughout the campaign mode. But what Fort Triumph is serious about is its gameplay, which is what you would expect from turn-based tactics game—with a few interesting physics-based twists. Add in world exploration and base-building, and Fort Triumph manages to pull away from the turn-based tactics genre, even before you add on its fantasy and role-playing elements.
The turn-based combat in Fort Triumph is what you’ll be spending most of your time doing, and it’s pretty great. I keep saying it, but if you’ve played X-COM, you’ll feel right at home with Fort Triumph. There are several different types of cover—low cover, high cover, and even different fortifications of cover. You have a hit percentage when taking aim, and there is a decent mixture of ranged and melee abilities, though Fort Triumph seems to favor ranged attacks over melee in a lot of encounters. Where Fort Triumph is really interesting, is its implementation of physics-based reactions to certain abilities and attacks.
Many abilities in Fort Triumph allows your character to push other characters, or even objects, over. This can make interesting situations in which enemies can be crushed by trees, or pushed into several other enemies, creating a domino effect of damage and stunning. Adding on magical debuffs can create some nasty synergy that can make some fights end very quickly in your favor. Sometimes, these physics attacks can make things chaotic, and even detrimental to your own squad. A tree may fall in the wrong direction, or a rock may be kicked off from another enemy that was set into motion, causing a chain reaction that harms a hapless teammate. And dead means dead—permadeath is very possible, and a poorly run encounter may find you recruiting a new hero back at your fort.
Fort management is important in Fort Triumph. You can build certain structures, and upgrade them, to bestow abilities to your characters, or enhance the rate in which you earn one of the three currencies—money, magic, and renown. With a properly upgraded fort, you can eventually have multiple roaming bands doing your bidding, and fighting your enemies.
Exploring the overworld is another huge part of Fort Triumph. This is done in a Heroes of Might and Magic style. Your party is able to travel a certain distance per day, and when your day (turn) is over, your enemies will have a go at it. There are lots of encounters, such as bands of rogue enemies who are sometimes guarding powerful treasures, or bits of magic or coin.
The fantasy theme and role-playing elements mean that character can get new abilities, and even upgrade their existing abilities after they hit a certain experience of level threshold. That also means that these characters you’ve been building for hours can be lost, so managing your teams to have the experience spread out tends to be important—or was for me towards the middle to end of the campaign.
Fort Triumph has a good art style, but its graphics, especially in the turn-based combat, aren’t that exciting. The overworld looks great, but the character models and their animations leave a lot to be desired. Not only that, but the action camera is mostly useless, often zooming in on a coup-de-grace only to show me a close-up of a barrel, or other obstruction. The graphics are reminiscent of Warcraft III or even World Of Warcraft—bright and colorful—but unfortunately, just not very appealing.
If you’ve finished a playthrough of Chimera Squad, or just want something to change-up your usual turn-based tactics games, Fort Triumph is a great option. It has a silly story you can leave or take, and the graphics in battles aren’t that great, but it’s held together by a good art style and solid gameplay mechanics. The overworld exploration is fun, and the role-playing elements add a sense of progression to your characters—though permadeath is always a threat. Overall, Fort Triumph manages to be a great turn-based tactics game.
Fort Triumph is available now on Steam.
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