Should I be excited about…Telepath Tactics
William Main uses his paranormal previewing skills to look at Telepath Tactics
Telepath Tactics is a title that promises a lot, leaving high expectations. Inspired by tactical role-playing game greats, such as Disgaea and Final Fantasy Tactics, Telepath Tactics has big shoes to fill—especially for a title that is taking advantage of Kickstarter, but does Telepath deliver? Let’s delve into the preview copy and find out.
The game opens up with a wall of text, introducing the intriguing steampunk-fantasy setting of Telepath, before jumping straight into a battle. Similarly to other entries in the genre, Telepath Tactics has players battle against a squad of enemies. Battles take place on a grid, with the player able to move each unit across a specific number of spaces. Positioning is vital to victory, with various advantages resulting from actions such as attacking a foe from behind for a backstab multiplier. The reach of an attack also ranges from one space (horizontally or vertically) from the unit, to three or four spaces ahead. Players are expected to either defeat all enemy units or to defeat the boss character to succeed during the current battle.
Telepath Tactics utilises a class system, splitting each character into one of twenty two pre-defined character archetypes. In the preview copy, at least five notable classes were available. The player could send their warriors to slice their foes up, bowmen to snipe down targets, medics to keep the troops healthy, engineers to modify terrain, and wizard-like units to take advantage of unique effects to rain down on the enemy. Each class has their own role within battle that the player must employ tactically in order to succeed, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. In particular, the engineers introduce an innovative twist to taking advantage of the environment that I have not personally seen in titles of the genre.
Each stage sees varying obstacles and landscapes which the player may calculate into their strategy and make full use of in order to triumph over the opponent. In the preview copy’s final stage, taking over a nearby tower allowed for an increased advantage over the majority of opposing ground units. Similarly, hiding behind a bush is also effective, as players may destroy the scenery at will and clear out new paths to their target. Alternatively, traps may be laid to reinforce the player’s position. I made sure to place barricades in front of the tower to keep my foes from reaching me. Ultimately, Telepath Tactics appears to offer more than the standard tactical RPG — it even offers a map editor for players to craft their own map designs.
The maps themselves are visually simplistic in nature, and very square-ish. Unlike higher budget titles of the genre, the title’s ground textures are designed to fill their entire respective tile in the grid. This may sound like common sense, but it leads to some minor issues such as the flooring extending beyond the walls of the building. However, this largely seems to be a result of the map editor feature, but could still likely be improved upon. Beyond these slight visual flaws, the world is aesthetically pleasing, and very crisp and clean. Contrary to the simple textures, character art is more detailed to some degree.
Regrettably, the preview copy did not show off just how the player may manage their army, obtain recruits, or any other micro-management elements beyond just the standard fare of levelling up—improving unit parameters and effectiveness. There was little breaks in the campaign; the preview simply focused on the story and fighting. The narrative itself feels somewhat underwhelming due to the lack animations or description. Actions that the character may perform during cutscenes are often depicted through very basic and brief descriptions such as, “[Character] shook fist.” It’s understandable, given the alpha status of the title, but it’s worth noting. Hopefully there will be either animations included or more detailed descriptions to improve the flow of the cutscenes. Currently, the pacing feels a little awkward, and the narrative is dialogue-heavy. Despite this and the short taste of the game, there’s still a level of intrigue that I found somewhat compelling. The horseman character that was accessible during the first two battles of the game was riding a mantis rather than a horse. The story also dabbles in political unrest amongst members of the public, and also sets up, presumably, a couple of subplots that would probably be important later into the finished campaign. Should the flow and pacing be improved, this might grow to become a fascinating tale.
Telepath Tactics is rich with potential, and is very promising at this (early) stage of its development cycle. For sure, there’s room for improvement and its execution’s a little rough, but with enough attention and nourishment this title could grow into becoming a memorable tactical RPG experience.