Live by the Sword: Tactics – Review
Follow Genre: Strategy, Turn based tactics
Developer: Labrador Studios
Publisher: Labrador Studios
Platform: PC, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5
Tested On: PC

Live by the Sword: Tactics – Review

Site Score
Good: Some good character concepts
Bad: Aggressively mediocre
User Score
(1 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Turn based tactics games are rather common nowadays, especially in the indie sphere. Although some try to innovate with unique combo systems or unique mechanics, there is a subset of titles that instead imitate the classics. Live by the Sword: Tactics came out last year and belongs to the latter type with even its Steam page loudly proclaiming its sensibilities. However, is this enough for the game to stand out?


The game’s story follows two brothers and their band of mercenaries as they travel the lands of a kingdom ravaged by war. As the story progresses, the group will discover traces of an imminent invasion by an enemy country alongside a plot by the brigands of the land. Embarking on a quest to thwart the plans of these evildoers, the group will have to fight for the survival of their kingdom.

Overall the story mode for the game is as deep as a puddle and is merely there to serve as a more structured set of maps for players. While not straight-up bad, it is just a setting that doesn’t particularly add much to the experience and can be easily skipped. To add to this, the narrative is rather short and doesn’t have a closed ending, further making it irrelevant.


Live by the Sword’s graphics consist of rather decent pixel art although nothing excessively impressive. The animations tend to be simplistic with the idle loop being the same as the walking animation and the only outliers being some of the attack animations. Adding onto this, the camera is locked in maps and can only be rotated at fixed angles, which becomes somewhat of a nuisance should players want to properly look at things, especially since objects do not become fully see-through.


Similarly to its graphics, the game’s sound design is serviceable but nothing special. Both the soundtrack and SFX do their job without stealing the spotlight, with the lack of voice acting further making this section mostly irrelevant.


Although the game belongs to the turn-based tactics genre, it seems to forgo the RPG mechanics most other titles tend to have. Throughout all of the modes, players will be unable to alter their characters in any significant way, since items, levels, and stats are non-existent. Instead, the core gameplay loop will see players deploying a small squad of around four characters per map in order to beat the enemy, with everything resetting right after.

Each of the characters at the player’s disposal has a set of eight abilities from which four can be selected before the battle begins. These abilities may be both active and passive, with active abilities going on cooldown after use. Alongside these, characters also have a basic attack and a class trait, the first being the main way to deal damage when abilities have been spent. The character classes themselves can be mostly divided into damage dealers, supports, and tanks, with some doubling as several of these archetypes.

Due to how small the squads and maps are, players tend to be better off deploying a handful of characters with high damage and alright health over straight-up supporters. Healers are one of the weakest types of characters since their heals only cover the amount of damage a single hit deals while also going on cooldown. On the other hand, a mage and a brawler will easily be able to burst most characters in a turn or two.

Besides the aforementioned abilities and archetypes, the game also includes miss and critical hit possibilities. These are both unreliable and poorly implemented, with miss chances being fixed for each ability and critical chances only being represented with a “yes” or “no”, without providing a percentage. With the way misses are implemented in the game, a character missing a round of damage may well cost a death through no fault of the player’s own, which feels rather unfair.

Besides the Story mode, the game also has a handful of different modes, including one with combat puzzles, multiplayer, and lastly a roguelike. Out of the three, the roguelike mode is the meatiest and the one that changes up the gameplay the most. Although extremely poorly balanced, it adds permanent items that buff the party and it allows to somewhat upgrade character stats as the adventure progresses. However, this is let down by the mode’s overreliance on gold, which is obtained after battles and it’s extremely necessary at the beginning before quickly becoming irrelevant. Mechanics like injuries and permanent death will sap the player’s wealth quickly until they have enough of a buffer that they’ll spend without care.

Said injuries will permanently set the character’s health maximum to half until the player pays to rest at an inn, further sapping the little gold earned. Adding new characters to the party also requires money and duplicates cannot be selected. Making things worse, the initial selection of three characters is random and so are their abilities. This means certain characters relying on specific abilities to function may be handicapped until an inn can be reached and further gold is spent to swap them around.


Live by the Sword: Tactics is a rather mediocre game that doesn’t offer much that hasn’t been done better in other titles of the genre. While not straight-up bad, it is only worth purchasing as an entry point to the genre if anything. Having been released close to much better titles like Triangle Strategy, the game isn’t particularly worth considering, since it doesn’t innovate, and what little uniqueness it has is poorly implemented. Other than an extremely drab and toothless experience that misuses what little resources it has, there’s nothing to see here.

Personal Opinion

“I love tactics games, they’re one of my favorite genres. However, with Live by the Sword, I was just snoozing. I kept quitting after a map or two out of boredom since battles take pretty long and don’t require much strategizing. Your characters will die if the AI decides to focus on them and there’s nothing you can do unless you want to take twice as long to beat a single map. Although animations can be sped up through an option added in the winter update, everything still takes far too long and drags on. This isn’t helped in the least by the fact that enemies can just ignore your characters and run through them, forcing you to go on a wild goose chase to finish them. It is extremely frustrating having an enemy left on the map and needing 4 turns to kill it just because it keeps running away and you cannot focus damage on it. If you add the chance you might miss your hits on the game’s whim, combat is just a complete drag.”

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Live by the Sword: Tactics - Review, 4.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

No longer writing for the site, pursuing other things.

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