Grotesque Tactics, as the name would imply is a Tactical RPG (Hence the ‘tactics’) with a dark sense of humour (hence the ‘Grotesque’) Just how dark is ‘dark’? Well, the game starts of very bright and happy with the main character and two other knights trying to kill themselves via monster mushroom. It’s rather hilarious to watch the three of them mope over who’s worse off for a while before Hulk Hogan the Paladin appears.
After a short cutscene/tutorial you’re introduced to how the game works, and it’s actually rather interesting. The Game is grid-based like many other Strategy RPGs, but this game allows you to freely move around the map until you trigger a battle, after which your movement is limited and you’re able to attack, obviously. Another interesting thing is that if you stray too far near an enemy that isn’t in the battle, they’ll also join the battle thirsty for your blood.
Monsters will also fight amongst themselves if they are of differing types. As an example, Chocochicks (An obvious poke at ‘Chocobos’) hate Goblins, and will attack them on sight. Mushrooms don’t like Goblins either, so I guess no one really likes the Goblins it seems. Similarly to this, if your party strays too far from the enemies the battle will also end, this is quite annoying to pull off, however. Enemies thirsty for your blood have a habit of following you.
Now is a good time to mention the two heroes of the game. Drake, the black haired, black wearing brooding protagonist of the game and The Holy Avatar, who is ‘Hulk Hogan the Paladin’ I mentioned earlier. Drake is your stereotypical Japanese Protagonist, a Katana using “emo” to quote the game. The Holy Avatar (Or ‘Holy’ for short) is your basic Western Protagonist, with his heavy plate armour, large sword and tenancy to try and get with anything female. Speaking of females, there are also ‘Maidens’ who are basically young, skimpily clad women who all just happen to have ponytails, use bows and all want to marry The Holy Avatar Hulk Hogan. I see a pattern forming, do you?
The game is very Tongue and Cheek, however I can’t help but get the impression that the game just isn’t trying very hard. The Antagonist of the game is a silver haired, black clothing wearing French man. Honestly, they may as well just have taken Sephiroth, given him a curly moustache and called him ‘Zephiroth’ because that’s all they’ve really done, but replace the amusing curly moustache with French-nes.
The only character that comes close to being original in Grotesque Tactics is a Drunkard of a Goblin Rogue that definitely does NOT want to betray you, not at all. He doesn’t laugh maniacally when you ‘convince’ him to join you party and promise not to betray you or anything. Nope, of course not.
I had actually been interested in Grotesque Tactics before I was offered to review it, however after taking a look at the Screenshots I was immediately turned off. The art is simply horrible, it looks like it was drawn by a twelve year old girl who was taking a break from playing with her Barbie dolls. The graphics are also rather bad, even for an indie game they simply just do not look appealing whatsoever, the Maidens are all just shameless palette swaps of each other and even the antagonists are just simple palette swaps of Drake and Holy, right down to the idle stances!
Sadly I can’t really say much about the music, it was boring and repetitive so I just ended up muting it and playing something over it. The Sound effects are also incredibly annoying, one part comes to mind when you reach the first town of the game, there’s a jester in Stocks who was put there for ‘Being too funny’ his idle animation has him free himself from the stocks and jump up and down triumphantly, only to fall back into the stocks. When he’s jumping up and down it sounds like an earthquake, not a happy hop.
Speaking of incredibly annoying, the game is very buggy and has a lot of typos, A LOT of typos. One bug in particular happened when one of my maidens was killed by a goblin, Holy commented ‘A Goblin killed the Maiden!’ to which Drake replied ‘You bastards!’ You get it? It’s a South Park reference. I do hope there’s not a ‘the cake is a lie’ joke hidden somewhere later in the game, because I may have to take my own life. Or just complain about it. Probably the latter. Anyway, the bug happened when I returned to a ‘Healing Fountain’ to well, heal myself. The dialouge repeated it’s self after my HP was filled up, it’s rather minor but there’s more.
At times when I entered combat the interface would bug and only show Drake and Holy as participants, no monsters or other party members. This would rectify it’s self after I had spent my turns, but it gave me a chance to get a pre-emptive strike on the enemies, which is a tad unbalanced.
Speaking of unbalanced, the game is also incredibly broken. The second area of the game is rather challenging if you tackle it with the starting equipment, but after you complete it and rescue the second maiden you can return to town and buy new equipment. At this point you buy Drake the Katana (Strongest weapon available at this point) and then just kill everything in the next area in one hit. Just have Holy tank damage, Drake deal out damage and have your healer heal and you’re done.
The replay value on this game is almost non-existant. The Game is completely linear, the only secrets I saw were simple treasures. Gold, potions and sometimes equipment. The only reason I can see for playing through this game again is to tone up the difficulty, which you can change at any time you want anyway.
To wrap up, Grotesque Tactics: Evil Heroes isn’t necessarily a bad game, it just isn’t a good game either. It falls into the mediocre grey area, the ‘meh’ zone. It’s the kind of game you play for a few hours and enjoy and then just completely forget about within a few days.