Announced in the March 2022 State of Play, The Diofield Chronicle is a bold bet. Born from the collaboration between Square-Enix and the Lancarse studio (Etrian Odyssey), this work combines strategy, real-time combat and Game of Thrones atmosphere for an unexpected experience. A UFO in the catalog of current releases, but does it have enough qualities to transcend a niche audience?
The story begins on an island with the sweet name of DioField, known since the dawn of time as the “land of the Gods”. After a long period of peace, the chaos is about to die down and the building work of this new war is taking root in Leicestershire. During the attack on his person, the fourth prince, Levantia Shaytham, managed to flee with his two loyal right-hand men, Andrias and Fredret. Unfortunately, he fell into an ambush and an assassin took his life. While walking around the area, Andrias and Fredret witnessed a stagecoach attack and save a government agent. After this exploit, they were invited to join Lord Hende’s private militia. But many obstacles stand in their way…
A tactical game with a modern approach
Taking its writing very seriously, The DioField Chronicle deliberately obscures its plot and characters. The player knows nothing – or almost – about these individuals and he is literally thrown into the arena by participating in his first fights. For newcomers, everything seems hermetic, in the dialogues and in the stakes, but the Square-Enix title spreads an attractive atmosphere and we are slowly caught up in drama. Diofield Chronicle is divided into two phases: free exploration (allowing you to chat, shop, improve your skills or even interact with your inventory) and sequences completely dedicated to combat. In absolute terms, the minutes spent in the camp will not leave you with a marble memory, the fault of the protagonists who lack life, who do not bring much and where everything boils down to trips and menu for setting up their inventory and their skills. Admittedly, the individuals did not speak much (a good point for others), but we quickly went around the place and we had only one thing in mind: to go on a crusade.
In combat, The Diofield Chronicle tries a method that is as surprising as it is brilliant. In fact, although it is a tactical game, the action is not based on a checkerboard and turn-based battles, where each side attacks. Unlike a Fire Emblem, the player can freely move their units – through a slider – and interact with the battlefield at any time without waiting for the enemy to complete their attack or move . The dev team calls it “RTTB” (Real-Time Tactical Battle) and it provides an interesting rhythm to the various battles. You can choose to move one or more units, opt for a ranged or melee attack, create a diversion or recover all orbs that are on the ground before launching the offensive or during this. Orbs allow you to regenerate health or squad abilities and play a key role, especially against more aggressive bosses. Thus, the possibilities are huge and we are surprised to want to try all the special attacks because they can be amazing when they are effective. It’s like being in front of a Valkyria Chronicles for three quarters with real-time combat. It is easily addictive, and we want more!
Calling and breaking
If the concept is so good, it is partly thanks to his great generosity. In addition to different characters, weapons and abilities, the game includes overpowered summons that can literally turn around a bad embarked situation. In fact, the objectives are classic (eliminating enemies, preventing them from reaching a position, recovering an artifact, defeating a leader, controlling a turret, etc.), but fun we are in control of our units. Four in number (leaders), they can be accompanied by supports (adjuvants) that provide more possibilities in the battle. Concretely, the leader determines the attributes and skills while the adjuvants provide additional skills (healing, defense, offensive spells, etc.). At first, especially in the easiest ways, the characters make short work of their vis-à-vis, but the difficulty is exponential and it is necessary to develop a real strategy to get out of it . True, it sometimes lacks precision and the access to orders freezes the screen, which gives a rather fast speed in some fights. Also, as we progress, The Diofield Chronicle certainly shows its qualities, but it also shows its weaknesses.
In addition to the slowness of the units (movements are quite soft, but you can speed up the battles), the title suffers from an obvious problem: its repetition. The objectives are not varied enough, the game is too flat (despite the choice of English and Japanese voices) and we feel, despite the ambition of the developers, that this game deserves consideration. We repeat more or less the same pattern every time. The battles, returning to camp, using currency (Gulds) to increase inventory and skills, returning to combat… everything is very repetitive and the cutscenes never break this common thread. And since the portfolio is not easily filled, we repeat it over and over again, whether through priority missions or secondary objectives, and exhaustion eventually sets in. This is annoying because the game is interesting and full of ideas. But most of all, it is very well done!
Final Fantasy and Game of Thrones collide
It’s an unlikely mix The Diofield Chronicle offers, but it works! The characters and the universe were designed by Isamu Kamikokuryo, a Japanese artist who worked on Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIII. In his approach, he was supported by Taiki, the character designer of the Lord of Vermilion series. Finally, to crown it all (the word is not chosen randomly), the soundtrack – absolutely amazing – is the work of Ramin Djawadi and Brandon Campbell, a duo of composers at the origin of many themes in the series Game of Thrones. Suffice it to say that there are many wonderful people behind the software from Square-Enix and Lancarse! Unfortunately, that’s not all, and we can’t help regretting the slightly dated graphics (despite some nice effects), although accessing the logbook produces a frozen image with the most beautiful effect, board game. That’s a little like The Diofield Chronicle, a fairly hermetic board game for beginners, but behind the slightly old envelope and a lack of innovation hides an intense generosity and a what a fascinating concept. And it has the advantage, compared to others, of being translated into French.
- The mix between tactics and real-time combat
- The masterful soundtrack!
- Choice of Japanese and English dubbing
- Texts translated into French
- A game of great generosity
- A solid, serious, no frills adventure
- The overall pace – despite the relatively slow units
- Opening menus breaks the rhythm of fights
- Some inaccuracies (collision, camera…)
- Excessive redundancy (objectives, sequence of battles, etc.)
- All in all the relative interest in the transition periods
- A very slow game
From the beginning, we cannot accept the bet launched by The Diofield Chronicle. Brought to you by divine music and a drama as clever as it is interesting, Square-Enix’s game is undeniably generous. Regulars of the genre and lovers of tactical role-playing games are in danger of being won over by its “retro” charm and its various incantations. Rhythmic, pleasing and more shocking than it seems, The Diofield Chronicle struggles to keep up with the times. The goals are repetitive, the free rounds are not very productive and the game lacks the energy to expand its audience. However, for those who want to discover something other than the usual blockbusters and who are not hermetic in the genre, here is a work that will become a cult in a few years or, at least, find letters of greatness to enthusiasts. Games like that, you don’t find them every four mornings…
Readers’ opinions (4)
Read reader reviewsGive your opinion on the game!