A few months ago at PAX, I had the opportunity to sit down and try Symphony of War: Nephilim Saga The developer got excited from Dancing Dragon Games and quickly. With a healthy dose of Fire Emblem with an injection of extremely low quality Ogre Battle titles, you get a new strategy RPG that illuminates nostalgia and possibilities. We may witness the birth of a brand new SRPG Powerhouse series.
Welcome to the land of Tahanra, a land where political sabotage and power plays are common. After a long and arduous struggle for succession in the Veredia Empire, citizens are still struggling to clear up the pieces of Empress Florina’s career. There is at least peace despite the stress, but unfortunately, it is short-lived.
You play as a graduate of a brand new military academy. Things take a quick turn, and you’ll find yourself dealing more with rebels than just arguing with God, demons, and reborn heroes.
Fans of Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series will find Combat familiar, especially the older 2D entries, though Symphony of War abounds with other strategy game elements. You also have to move your army around the grid, lock cities and other places of interest, and bring together resources and allies that you can afford to improve your army. Each of your ‘units’ is made up of a handful of forces arranged around a three-by-three grid, with each member taking one turn during the encounter. There are 50+ classes available for your army, ranging from fancy staples like magicians and knights to more unique offers ranging from large guns to artillery. Higher level classes require specific values in different statistics and then different resources that can be found in the levels or purchased in stores.
It won’t take long for you to get a variety of attacks, which will prioritize the amount of damage you have given and received. You will also choose the option of less-lethal combat where you will do less damage but with the ability to capture enemy forces instead of killing them. Doing so will give you extra leadership points, allow units to better equip and keep more troops in the unit, as well as bonus gold at the end of the level, as you capture for ransom.
As much as I enjoy the elements adopted from the Symphony of War Ogre Batler series, I wish this game had something more to take on. I like morale and the idea of winning or losing a battle on one side, but the losing side doesn’t run away or try to avoid a fight if they lose their commander, I think the computer will attack their next turn again. There is nothing wrong with that. It only comes down to the second stat to track the morale of the unit and reduces the thing that holds the unit together.
Secondly, I want the deployment of the unit within the army to be more important and to determine what kind of attack the unit will carry out. I think it has an effect on how many attacks the unit makes, but if the units give different attacks depending on where they are placed, I will take less time in an army.
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If you want to succeed in Symphony of War there is a lot to take into account. The height and type of terrain will play a big role, such as giving units in your range greater distances on higher ground or reducing enemy counter-attacks when attacking from the jungle. Climate change can affect things too, so it’s always good to be prepared for many situations.
It’s all quite manageable so far, but things get complicated quickly when you step into camp. From the camp you will divide your time into joining your ranks to buy new units, change the class of your existing troops, build them with new items or unlock new benefits and bonuses in the Military Skills Tree. When all that busy work is done, you can use special coins that allow you to test your abilities in the arena.
I really appreciated how much customization and things there were to do when my troops were building what I wanted. There is a lot to get acquainted with in the early days, like all the different statistics, what different special abilities a unit can have, and how leadership affects forces. Thankfully, there are extensive help guides on the menu to help players overcome many difficulties, and they are great to have.
Made in RPG Maker, it’s amazing how much Symphony of War doesn’t feel like a game built into that software. This genre of SRPG is on par with the gameplay you would expect from a large studio with genealogy. To get to the next level, you really need to stand on your toes and make sure you have your troops properly equipped.
That being said, there is a very strict disconnect in the presentation of this game. The screens of Overworld, Combat, and Camp all look like they could be pulled straight out of the Nintendo title, with “Cinematics” Chibi Sprites and portraits of semi-realistic characters really fighting each other in battle. Realistic portraits seem particularly close, because everything else in the game has so much stylized or anime beauty, that it doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t help to have mirrors depending on which side of the screen the portraits are on, this is not a problem for most characters, but it does not work for some characters. When a portrait has an eye patch on one side of a character’s face and a sprite on the other, it deviates somewhat from impressive moments. Given the opportunity, I would love to see a more integrated art genre in future Symphony of War Games.
Symphony of War: Nephilim Saga is an impressive new IP for SRPG space and one whose creator, Phil Hamilton, has a lot of plans for it. There are already ambitions for its sequel and beyond, and I can’t wait to see how the series grows. Judging by the reception I’ve received so far on Steam and the support it has received, I don’t think I’m alone!