Children of Zodiarcs – Preview
Follow Genre: Tactical RPG
Developer: Cardboard Utopia
Publisher: Square Enix Collective
Platform: PC, playstation 4
Tested on: PC

Children of Zodiarcs – Preview

Good: A great mix of a lot of different game mechanics
Bad: A bit slow
User Score
8.0
(2 votes)
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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Children of Zodiarcs is a game which started as a Kickstarter campaign. This game is being developed by indy game developer Cardboard Utopia, and published by Square Enix Collective. The game will be released on the 18th of July for PC, Mac and Playstation 4. The kickstarter for Children of Zodiarcs has 6,683 backers who pledged 259,593 Canadian dollars, more than five times the original goal! This game has already won several awards: the Public’s Favorite and Gameplay Design awards at the Montreal Independent Games Festival 2016. 

Children of Zodiarcs - logo

Children of Zodiarcs is a story-driven game, with several characters with rich backgrounds and an interesting setting. The story revolves around a band of misfits who battle against the oppressive government of the Toran Empire. These young rebels are skilled professional thieves, known and hunted by the city guards. They are trying to collect ancient relics, Zodiarcs. Zodiarcs are powerful items which can manifest human will into physical reality, brought to the planet Lumus by an alien species. These relics played an important role in the history of the planet, and their powers have only recently been re-discovered.

The story is beging told not only by the cinematics, but largely through dialogue during the battles. The characters are fun and full of personality, telling a lot about what is going on, and about their motivation in the dialogues during battles. There’s also some dialogue in-between battles, where one of the characters will tell you a bit about their past and their background. This is a very nice touch, which informs the player about the personality and beliefs of the characters, making them and the game-world a lot more accessible.

Children of Zodiarcs screen 4

The graphics of this game look really good, with detailed models and great animations, full of personality. The levels are beautifully designed, with nice lighting and a lot of variety which you can use for the positioning of your characters. As of now, the introduction cinematic of the game has simple drawings to tell the story, but these will most likely be fancified upon release. The UI and tutorial screens are really helpful, giving plenty of information. You’ll learn the game gradually during play, unlocking more and more options to customize play style. This really works, because it’s a lot of information to take in, and this game has so many aspects.

The music in this game is classical JRPG-style music, very atmospheric. The music changes often, depending on what’s happening. Dialogue is not narrated, only the text is displayed, accompanied by an image of the character speaking and showing their emotional state. The drawing-style of the characters looks really beautiful and colorful. The game’s sound-effects are straightforward and fitting, and characters make appropriate sounds when attacking or being attacked.

Children of Zodiarcs screen 1

Children of Zodiarcs is a tactical turn-based RPG – card game hybrid. Additionally, this game uses dice to modify the results of an action. Basically, this game is a tactical RPG, where the actions you can take in a turn are dependent on your draw of the cards. Each character has their own deck of cards, which you can modify in character management. Each card represents an action, which has a certain area of effect or range, clearly displayed when you select that card during your turn. Keep in mind that your own team members can also be damaged by your attacks, and enemies can also be healed by you.

The addition of dice is very interesting: it makes you feel like you are playing a table-op RPG. The dice are six-sided and don’t have numbers, but have symbols on them. The symbol on which the dice lands can either empower a card, boost a character, or curse a character, and you can re-roll a few dice of your choosing. The pool of dice each character has is also customizable, just like the deck.

Children of Zodiarcs screen 2

Positioning is really important in this game. Attacking from behind means an opponent can not counter-attack. Counter attack is an automatic action when attacked from the front or sides in melee range, and counter-attack damage is always displayed when attacking. You can also block paths and certain attacks by clever positioning. There are a lot of factors to keep in mind when you are positioning your characters and lining up your attack. For instance, armored targets will not take any damage, unless an armor-piercing attack is used. Therefore, you’ll need a character with the appropriate attacks in their hand to defeat these types of enemies.

If it’s your turn, you can choose whichever character can go first. First you’ll move your character, and then you’ll choose one action from the cards you have in your hand. This can be an attack, heal or boost. After you chose an action, you can roll your dice to enhance the action, by making it more powerful, activate a special ability of the card, or healing your character. If you can’t take an action, you can always choose to draw extra cards or to defend. Having more cards in your hand, means a counter-attack will be stronger. At the end of the turn you’ll decide which way your character will be facing.

Children of Zodiarcs screen 5

The enemy’s turn works the same as your turn, where you’ll watch them move, take actions, roll dice, etc. It takes a while to wait for this, and so far there’s not a handy method to skip this. Partly because of this, the fights can take a while, but long fight duration is quite common with tactical turn-based combat games.

This game is very complex, but as a player you’ll learn the game gradually. It’s a lot of fun learning the many different aspects of this game, and perfecting your deck and dice to make an efficient team.

Conclusion 
Children of Zodiarcs is a really good game, which already looks and feels great in the current stage. This game is similar to games like Final Fantasy Tactics, but with the addition of the cards and dice it has a lot of extra interesting factors, varying the options your characters have, and the influence you have as a player. The story is good, and the characters are really fun and interesting. It’s not a fast game, but this game is perfect for people who like to pay attention to the details and perfect their tactics.

Children of Zodiarcs screen 6

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Children of Zodiarcs - Preview, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Anmaja
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

1 Comment

  1. JasuSakura
    JasuSakura
    May 31, 2017, 12:34 pm

    I’m so looking forward to this one. To my opinion one of the most anticipated titles from the Square-Enix Collective…

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